A quick scroll through the Company History tab of Martin Wine Cellar's newly designed website (500 Magazine St., 504-894-7420; 714 Elmeer Ave., Metairie, 504-896-7300; 2895 Highway 190, Mandeville, 985-951-8081; 3827 Baronne St., 504-899-7411; www.martinwine.com) reveals what many in this city already know — the deep roots the Martin family and their business have in New Orleans.
Since 1946, the Martin family has offered the Gulf South diverse wines from all over the globe. The business expanded to Metairie, Mandeville and Baton Rouge.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures, the original Baronne Street location suffered flooding and looting. However, the flagship location reopened this month in a new building that solves many of the original shotgun building's issues and erases the scars that resulted from its gradual expansion.
"It's coming back home," says Cedric Martin. "This is where I grew up, where I learned the trade. ... My father started this business when people were just learning about wine; back in the '60s and early '70s people were just picking up something from the few bottles they stocked at the liquor store. My father brought wines from Europe and California and starting teaching classes and having wine tastings and educating."
The new 14,000-square-foot building seats 120, a significant increase from what was a 10,000-square-foot-structure, which seated 72 people. (Originally, the Martin family's deli and catering business had 16 counter stools.)
Thanks to FH Myers Construction and Waggonner & Ball Architects, the new structure on Baronne Street maximizes its space with a beautiful kitchen equipped for both in-house menu items and catering. The pale wood and large windows make the space feel cozy.
"The heat of the day falls to the back," Martin says. "The structure is designed so that it is both pretty and functional. The sunlight does not hit the wine directly during peak hours, and that is important for storage."
Martin Wine Cellar is open seven days a week, with a lunch and dinner menu as well as catering and grab-and-go options. There are $3 mimosas during Sunday brunch, as well as $4 happy hours from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Pre-wrapped gift baskets and wines are popular choices for holiday gifts, and the well-educated and diverse staff loves to help customers choose bottles.
"We're passionate about what we do, we love what we do, and it's different," Cedric says. "We survive."