by Joshua Maloni
The village's newest wine bar is opening its doors to the community.
After a string of successful walk-throughs for small groups of people, the Lewiston Stone House is now ready to welcome the general public. The rustic rathskeller, at 755 Center St. North, is open from 5 p.m. until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
"This is just going to be a nice casual place," said manager Paul Aswad, a Niagara Falls native who previously worked at Freedom Run Winery.
"We want to have a fun place to come to, and a fun time down here," he added. "It's pretty intimate. It's just a small little place. (We'll have) a casual, somewhat professional atmosphere. We're not going to have raging parties with all the 21-year-olds coming out of college. We're going to have a nice atmosphere down here."
The Lewiston Stone House, which overlooks the Rite-Aid Plaza, consists of two floors and a spacious outdoor patio. The main bar is located downstairs (guests will enter from Center Street), while regular spillover space upstairs will be used for wine classes and special events.
Once inside, patrons can sit around the bar or at small wood barrel-bottomed tables as they have wine or scotch and snack on tapas.
"I just want to have this be a really relaxed place - a really relaxed atmosphere where anyone can come and just have a nice time," Aswad said.
The Lewiston Stone House was formerly an office building. Emery Simon of Simon Construction Co. purchased the property and meticulously converted it into a wine bar. Last March, when meeting with the Village of Lewiston Planning Board, Simon said his intention was to "overbuild," or to bolster the structure, to make it safer because "I want to make the building right."
"To me, this doesn't look like anything that I've ever seen in Lewiston," said Christina Crane, manager of new business development for Simon Construction.
"I love it down here," Aswad said. "They've done a great job renovating inside here. Upstairs looks fabulous. Downstairs has a really nice, unique look to it."
Of course, Simon Construction's rebuild represented the second major renovation at 755 Center St. North. Bates Cooke reconstructed the tavern in 1820. Back then, it was known as "The First and Last Chance Saloon."