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Dana Frank is opening her dream space: a natural wine bar with a casual, come-as-you are vibe, really great music, and plenty to drink.
Dana Frank is opening her dream space: a natural wine bar with a casual, come-as-you are vibe, really great music, and plenty to drink.
194 backers pledged $36,267 to help bring this project to life.

About

Bar Norman: a natural wine bar in southeast Portland, Oregon project video thumbnail
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$36,267

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Me, and Champagne. Image: Eva Kolenko
Me, and Champagne. Image: Eva Kolenko

Hi, I'm Dana. 

I fell in love with wine a long time ago (it's been about 15 years, to be exact), and I've spent most of my career working in restaurants. I've been a cook, a pastry chef, a busser, a server, a general manager, a wine director and sommelier. I've also washed a lot of dishes and scrubbed some toilets, opened four restaurants from the ground up, birthed a child, and co-authored a book. I like to do many things, often at once, for fear that life might be otherwise boring.

Home bar. Image: Chris Corbin
Home bar. Image: Chris Corbin

My path to wine came in an unconventional way, as it does for many people in this business. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Romania, cooking my way through almost 4 years of root-vegetable winters and picnic-filled summers. I learned to make cabbage rolls with my neighbor, to drink plum brandy with my friends, and to feast like it was my job. The experience of shopping and cooking with the seasons changed how I felt about food and upon returning to the States, I did the most sensible thing I could: I went to work at a restaurant. A couple of years in a professional kitchen gave me the skills of discipline and stamina, but left me wanting the guest interaction that only comes from beyond the kitchen doors. I hopped to the front-of-house and never looked back.

Fast forward to today, and I've had the good fortune of working with some incredible mentors around Oregon, predominantly in Portland where I live. I'm honored to have been featured in Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Wine Enthusiast, Imbibe, and on Sprudge WinePUNCH, and Eater. Most recently I've been running Natty by Nature, my super-fun, not-so-serious pop-up bar dedicated to natural wine and golden era hip-hop. And now, after years of helping manage teams of employees, writing wine lists, and running restaurants, I'm ready to open my own little place, and it's called Bar Norman. 

Impossibly big barrel, Chianti Classico.
Impossibly big barrel, Chianti Classico.

While Portland has been one of the epicenters of great food, and a mere 30 minutes drive from the Willamette Valley wine country, our love affair has long been with craft beer and cocktails. Paris, London, New York, LA: all amazing places to hang out in a wine bar. But our beloved Portland has been slow on the uptake until recently. For many, 'wine bar' has conjured up visions of over-stuffed furniture, soft jazz, and clinking glasses of pinot grigio. But times have changed. Bar Norman will be a casual affair. It'll be fun and loud and upbeat, like a bar, but with wine. It'll be a place to stop in for a glass on your way to dinner, or on your way home from dinner. You'll be able to drink and eat, drink and talk, drink and party, stay for an hour, or stay all night. 

We'll serve natural wine, the slightly controversial beverage made from grapes, and not much else. We won't adhere to any dogma, but we'll support growers who don't spray chemicals in their vineyards and farm organically and/or biodynamically. We'll celebrate winemakers who allow their juice to ferment naturally, without the use of commercial yeasts, and who don't add anything to their wine except a little sulfur. Bar Norman will sit at the crossroads of the cool young guns in the natural wine world, and the old guys who have been making natural wine since before anyone talked about what natural was. Most importantly, you'll be able to drink real wine that tastes good.

Bar Norman, mid-construction.
Bar Norman, mid-construction.

Bar Norman will be a bar, with lots of other things, too. While showing up and drinking wine is great, you'll also be able to take bottles to go, sit in on a class, and attend community events with visiting winemakers, authors, and other wine personalities. We'll be establishing a mentorship program for people who are interested in the hospitality business, creating avenues for new jobs in wine. We're committed to building a positive, happy work place, where people will be paid fairly and will have the opportunity to learn and grow within the business. 

Funds from this Kickstarter campaign will go towards necessary equipment for the bar, such as a proper heating and air conditioning system, wine coolers, and a hot water heater.

Norman, June 1948, San Francisco.
Norman, June 1948, San Francisco.

What's in a name? Norman Rogers was my grandfather, one of the greatest influences in my life, and the namesake of the bar. He didn't get me into wine. We never had long discussions about the merits of old Bordeaux. In fact, he drank rather unexciting wine, a glass or two every night with dinner. But, he taught me a whole lot about perseverance, generosity, kindness, and how to play Monopoly (I was a terrible student). Bar Norman is the most personal project I've worked on, and it only seemed fitting to name it for him.

It has always been my goal to create Bar Norman with the help of the Kickstarter community, so that it feels like a place that belongs to many people. I believe in doing the work it takes to make lofty visions a reality, and in this instance, part of the work is reaching out to you, asking for your support. I would be overjoyed and beyond grateful for your contribution to this bar, this dream of mine for more years than I can count. Won't you help me bring delicious natural wine and unique community programming to southeast Portland?

Video: Chris Corbin, @corbinbrands
Find us here: www.barnorman.com and @barnormanpdx on Instagram

Risks and challenges

Opening a bar has its inherent risks: namely, we're building it, will they come?

But we've tried to be very smart about how we're taking on Bar Norman. We looked high and low for an old space full of character, in a residential neighborhood surrounded by shops, restaurants, and cafés, and ended up in what can only be described as the perfect spot for a wine bar. It's small so we can manage our overhead, and doesn't require a massive build-out. We've passed our build-out inspections and are on schedule to open by mid-July 2018.

Luckily, there's a whole lot of wine in the world, so we don't need to worry about supply running short.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    A Good Mail Day

    For $10 we'll have a Bar Norman postcard with a hand-written love note delivered right to your mailbox.

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    Open Up

    Your $20 will get you the first in a limited series of custom Bar Norman corkscrews.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Music to Your Ears

    A $30 pledge gets you a flash drive loaded up with 3 hours of some of our favorite music, hand-picked by Scott Frank (who loves music as much as he loves wine).

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    Glasses for Two

    $40 gets you and a pal one beverage each and our immense gratitude.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Permanent Place in Our Hearts

    We'd love to add your name to our 'We Couldn't Have Done it Without You' artwork! For $50, your name will be a permanent fixture at Bar Norman, prominently displayed for everyone to see. Reward includes a limited edition Bar Norman corkscrew.

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    Your Name in a Book

    Get ready to be one of the first people to read Dana Frank's upcoming book, Wine Food, due out in mid-September. Co-authored with cookbook vet and food stylist Andrea Slonecker, Wine Food has 75 delicious recipes paired with some of Dana's favorite wines from around the world. Yours will be signed with a personal message to you, or someone of your choice.

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    Break in the Bar

    Be the first to enjoy Bar Norman! We'll be thrilled to welcome you to our pre-opening thank-you party in early July. Food and beverages, as well as great tunes included.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Taste with Us

    Your $200 pledge will get you a ticket to join us in early July, pre-opening, as we choose glass pours (we'll need you to weigh in on some serious decisions!). Get an inside peek into the mind of a sommelier! Snacks and good times provided.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Wine Wednesdays

    Enjoy a month of wine Wednesdays! Come by Bar Norman on 4 different Wednesdays to enjoy a bottle to stay or take away, hand-chosen to match your mood/preference/adventurous spirit.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Wine Country for a Day

    Your $250 will get you a curated day in Oregon's beautiful Willamette Valley wine country. Bar Norman's own Dana Frank will arrange visits at 4 of her favorite wineries and send you on your way with a picnic lunch for 2 to enjoy at one of your stops. Reward includes set appointments and a map with driving directions.

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    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    Class in Session

    Grab 5 pals and gather 'round the table for a customized private class led by Dana Frank. Snacks, notes, and surprise goodies included. Theme and date to be mutually agreed upon. Available between August-December 2018.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Division Street Wine Crawl

    Get to know the incredible wine bar scene on Portland's southeast Division Street with a personalized wine crawl. Start at Bar Norman and hop on one of Portland's Biketown city bikes (parked right out front), then head to Bar Avignon, Division Wines, and the Southeast Wine Collective for a beverage and complimentary bite at each stop.

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    Bar Norman at Home

    Plan your next birthday party, backyard BBQ, or holiday shindig knowing that Bar Norman will come to you. Reward includes curated selection of beverages for up to 20 guests, glassware, ice tub, ice, a limited edition Bar Norman corkscrew, and delivery, set up, and pick up in Portland, Oregon. Date to be mutually agreed upon. Available between August-December 2018.

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    Bar Norman at Home (Bartender included)

    Plan your next birthday party, backyard BBQ, or holiday shindig knowing that Bar Norman, and one of our knowledgeable staff, will come to you. Reward includes curated selection of beverages for up to 30 guests, a bartender for your party, glassware, ice tub, ice, a limited edition Bar Norman corkscrew, and delivery, set up, and pick up in Portland, Oregon. Date to be mutually agreed upon. Available between September 2018-February 2019.

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    Pledge $3,000 or more About $3,000

    Stock your Cellar

    Wish you had a stash of wine at home all the time? Tuesday night dinner in and nothing to drink? Dinner party on Saturday and you have to stop at the store to grab a bottle on the way? Your generous contribution of $3000 will reward you with a 'stock your cellar' consultation with sommelier Dana Frank. You'll taste wines, talk about what you like and don't like, find wines for drinking now and wines for putting away for later, and end up with a selection of bottles to get your cellar started.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Yours for the Night

    Call up 30 friends and invite them to Bar Norman for an evening. We'll help you curate a great list of food and drinks, Scott Frank will be on hand to make sure the music is perfect, and the space will be yours for the night. Date to be mutually agreed upon.

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Funding period

- (30 days)