About Slope Cellars
On June 24, 1981, a 20 year old Patty Glynn took a People's Express flight from LAX to JFK. She spent $25 of the $50 in her pocket on a cab to her best friend's sublet on the upper west side, bought a six-pack of beer and a pack of cigarettes and 4 days later had a job at the College Inn restaurant. Many other restaurant jobs, cigarettes and beers followed. One day she ran out of genuine smiles, developed the dreaded "bad attitude" that afflicts many veteran servers and had to leave the restaurant business. A couple of years of PR for AmFAR was followed by a Master's in education and 5 years teaching in the public schools of Brooklyn. A screenplay written during a summer break got optioned which prompted an end to teaching before she ended up on the cover of the Post.
In November of 1999 Patty sent her husband Bob Lenartz out to get some cooking wine at the plexiglass enclosed "bullet proof" liquor store around the corner from their newly purchased home. He returned with a bottle and an idea that the store was going under and they should try to buy it. Sitting at their kitchen table they mulled over the experience they would need to undertake such a project and decided to forge ahead. They had 20 years combined in the restaurant industry. Bob had run the supply store on his Navy ship. They had long fantasized about doing something in the neighborhood. They liked alcohol. It was the right idea at the right time.
The store opened on March 27th, 2000. This was back in the day when liquor stores couldn't be open on Sunday for which they were grateful- a mandatory day off. Patty ran the store (sans paycheck) with a handful of employees while Bob continued to work his day job as a proxy solicitor and his new night job as a booze purveyor. The wine selections came from people that seemed passionate and trustworthy, trumping the old school hard sell liquor guys who aggressively beat down the door. There was a natural tendency to eschew the big, national brands in favor of smaller, more mom and pop wineries. Things slowly evolved, employees learned more. Laws changed and stores could be open 7 days a week. The sweat equity paid off and the extra day of income was the tipping point that allowed Bob to leave Wall Street and work full time at Slope Cellars. When Ben came on board in 2004 he began to be included in the wine buying process, eventually becoming a buyer, then a partner. His influence on the selections was profound, the curation was thoughtful, eclectic and something the staff took pride in. In 2009 Chris Hiatt became the curator of the spirit selections expanding further the geekery of the Slopey inventory. With a solid staff in place, Patty had time to devote to extracurricular activities like being on the Celebrate Brooklyn Friends Council and the Park Slope Chamber of Commerce. Donating to the public schools and sponsoring teams has always been part of the Slopey plan. It's a good life.
Upon graduating from theater school in London, Ben made his way back to the states and, instead of returning to his native California, landed in New York City. Fueled by work in the NYC restaurant scene, his dreams of a thespian life quickly gave way to a path in food and wine. One day, while walking along 7th Avenue, he stumbled upon Slope Cellars and asked Patty for a part-time job. She felt good vibes and took him on. Wine school was attended, bottles upon bottles were opened and pondered, and it dawned on him that wine was his calling. He gradually picked up more shifts, and ultimately became co-captain of the wine buying team. He is now partner and just as fascinated by the vast world of wine.
Stephen grew up on Long Island in a family of musicians (brass players) with a trombone in one hand and a hockey stick/golf club in the other. After banging on pots 'n pans for a while, he got his first drum set at age 14. He played trombone in all the school bands growing up, and attended Berklee School of Music for 3 semesters - trombone/performance (drumsticks in back pocket). Finally, he moved to Manhattan in '76 and played in a zillion bands (still to this day playing with some of the same folks).
Fast forward to 1987, Stephen was the founding member of Alice Donut, playing over 1500 live performances and recording 10+ albums. He started playing with Loser's Lounge and became friends with the stage manager, Patty Lenartz. One day Patty mentioned she and Bob (Lenartz) were opening a wine shop..."Would you like to work there?" "YES," said Stephen, without hesitation. The rest is history. While not as wine-geeky as some, he completed the IWC Intermediate Wine course (WSET).
Stephen is still quite active in the local music scene.
Alejandra hails from Venezuela via the Bay Area. She's honed her wine skills through a 15-year career in restaurants both in San Francisco and in NYC, where's she's worn lots of hats -from busser to maître 'd, and from dishwasher to assistant general manager. She is a UC Berkeley graduate and holds a Masters degree in Food Studies from NYU, where she focused on the intersection of food, nationalism and immigration, but she just likes to eat, drink and theorize, really. In her off time, Alejandra can be found cooking up a storm in her tiny Brooklyn kitchen or instagramming every bottle of wine she drinks.