One more key to the rebirth of downtown is turning today as Philippe Simon opens the doors to his wine shop at noon. Lafayette’s French wine expert was sorting bottles yesterday, readying the new shop in the old Tribune Printing Press building right across from Parc Sans Souci. The bottles are arranged by price on the two long walls, a $10-$20 run on the right, $20 up to some pretty recherché bottles along the left wall. They are organized as well by what Philippe describes as “drinking weight,” from the lightest wines to the big bodied ones, which to a large degree correspond to price.
Philippe’s Downtown sells cheese and charcuterie as well. But maybe the best idea of all is the cluster of red and white checkered tables, where you can taste a flight of wines, nibble some of Philippe’s imported goodies, and bask in the glow of sunset over the park.
The opening is not only about downtown as an entertainment center. Having a small shop offering some of the necessities of life facilitates the ability to live downtown. Residents of the three neighborhoods that comprise the heart of old Vermilionville; Downtown, Mills Subdivision and Freetown, enjoy the benefits of beautiful, 150-year-old housing stock, mature trees and walkable communities. What has disappeared over the years from the urban center are the stores that allow folks to do their shopping on foot. Downtown sorely needs a grocery store to help bring the residential population back. Philippe’s wine shop is a great amenity to the area, and we can only hope that more businesses that support quality of life will follow.