by Joey Phoenix
Need a bottle of wine tonight and don’t know where to go or which kind to choose? Wondering where to host your next intimate dinner party or event experience? There’s a wine shop and tasting room in Lynn that’s got the answers for you.
With certified Sommelier Sarah Marshall at the helm, Lucille Wine Shop and Tasting Room, a proudly woman-owned business in downtown Lynn boasts dining-calibre hospitality, expert-level wine knowledge, and a comprehensive collection of carefully sourced fine wines from around the world and craft beers from across the country and from right here in New England.
This unique shop also boasts a beautiful event space for seated events up to 16 guests and as large as standing cocktail receptions for up to 65 guests.
But Lucille is more than just a wine shop, tasting room, and event experience, it’s also Sarah’s Marshall’s passion project and the culmination of a seed planted by her grandmother, mother, and the vibrance of Boston’s dining scene.
Empowered by Two Generations of Strong Women, Inspired by Wine
Marshall first became exposed to the world of high-end food and wine with her first restaurant job at L’Escalier in Boston. While the establishment is now closed, it was a respected five star French restaurant in its time.
“[Working at] L’Espaliar really lit my passion for wine as a medium, like art, history, and cuisine, for learning about culture. It’s both interesting, delicious, and a way to gather people together,” said Marshall.
From there, the passion only grew. Marshall started to expand her knowledge while also seeking out travel opportunities through famous wine regions such as Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rioja, Priorat, Douro, Piedmont, and Tuscany to name a few. She also worked in and consulted many Boston restaurants – including her notable stint as wine director for both Oleana and Sarma.
Food as a means of connection
But it wasn’t just L’Espalier and the Boston foodie scene that helped fuel her desire to learn about food and wine. Marshall was also heavily influenced by her grandmother, Lucille Hicks: a Quebec-born military wife without a formal education or formal food training who still was exceptional in many ways.
“Food for her was always a way of connecting around the table, connecting and making new friends,” Marshall said. “My grandfather and my father were both in the military, and since my grandparents and my parents never lived close to their extended family while based overseas, there was this mentality of your friends are your family because that’s who would show up at your table.”
Lucille would eventually turn her 8th-grade education into a lifelong career as a chef, and the wine shop named for her is a love letter to her lifelong resilience, compassion and taste.
“Lucille’s Wine Shop really came to be because of my Mom.”
Not only was Marshall the recipient of Lucille’s exquisite taste and sense of community, she also had access to her entrepreneur Mom’s shrewd business sense.
“My mom became a single mom starting about the time I turned 10, and even though she had been out of the workforce for a long time, she was determined to get back in it,” she explained. “When I was in high school she started her own business.”
While Marshall was working in and around Boston, there came a point where she started yearning for something more, which was something that her Mom picked up on immediately.
“She came to me and said: ‘You don’t seem happy in this job. You have so many more skill sets than what you’re utilizing,’” Marshall said, describing the conversation. “She told me: ‘I’ve always wanted to start another business, and I think you’re ready. I want to invest in you.’”
Once Marshall overcame the initial surprise and thought it through, the path forward really opened up for her. She knew it was going to be a wine shop, and she knew it was going to be in Lynn. The idea for the tasting room and event space came later.
“I saw a need here. There’s no place to really buy small production, family owned wine or without going into the city or going farther north,” she said, mentioning the difficulty of finding shops with someone could talk to you and make recommendations so you wouldn’t have to ‘shop in the dark’ with labels.
“I have a design background as well and wanted to create a beautiful and affordable space to be able to host events in. Sometimes it isn’t feasible to host an event in a restaurant, and we all know halls are not that interesting to look at. This store is really a combination of my favorite interests: wine, hospitality, and design,” she added.
Lucille, One Year Later
Lucille’s Wine Shop and Tasting Room officially opened its doors on February 8, 2020, only a month before the start of the pandemic. With such a quick economic downturn and social distancing restrictions on all sides, it was bad timing for a new small business. Yet, despite these seemingly insurmountable challenges, Marshall was able to take it in stride.
“It was insanely stressful to have six weeks of ‘normalcy,’ and then have to completely switch gears. But since it was so early on, I was still in the building stage where I didn’t really have true stability, in many ways I felt it was better that I had to change sooner rather than later, because I hadn’t become comfortable doing something else,” she explained.
One of the biggest infrastructure changes to the shop that she wouldn’t have immediately prioritized was online ordering, giving her business the ability to offer curbside pickup and delivery while the state was in lockdown. And as things began to ease slightly, she was also able to introduce wine tastings by appointment – giving guests an opportunity to learn about and enjoy wine and its pairings in a safe environment.
“We were able to ease into things instead of being forced to jump into ten things at once. I was able to really focus on retail early on,” she explained.
Now in 2021, Marshall is hopeful for the future, and as COVID-19 restrictions in the state continue to lessen, opportunities for expanding into the shop’s full potential are on the immediate horizon.
“I’m hopeful for people to gather and connect, and there’s an outdoor event that I’m planning that I’m really looking forward to. I’m an outgoing person, I like entertaining. I like throwing parties. So the fact that I couldn’t do that for a year and a half plus has been extremely tough,” she said.
“But I’m grateful those days are coming to an end and we can begin to host parties for our guests in our space,” she added.
Lucille Wine Shop in Lynn is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12-6 for in-store shopping and tastings by appointment. You can make an appointment for a tasting reservation or other days at https://lucillewineshop.com/tastings-classes.
Should you be interested in learning more about hosting a private event at Lucille, head to https://lucillewineshop.com/events. You can also learn more about Lucille Wine Shop from their website https://lucillewineshop.com or by following them on Facebook and Instagram.
Joey Phoenix (they/them) is the Director of Brand Strategy and Innovation at Creative Collective. As the resident storyteller and town crier, they encourage you to send story ideas, inspiration, or pictures of adorable critters to email@example.com.
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