Wine Dive co-owner Brad Steven wasn’t sure what to think when OpenTable, which provides online restaurant reservations worldwide, contacted him last week.
Steven was told that the business at Douglas and Oliver, which he owns with his brother, Brent, was one of OpenTable’s choices for the Top 100 Wine Lists in America.
OpenTable compiled the list “after analyzing more than five million reviews of more than 20,000 restaurants across the country.”
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Steven says he was told he needed to supply a photo of the business by the next day.
“I ran up to the Wine Dive and snapped a few pictures and e-mailed it off, and sure enough, it wasn’t BS.”
He says the restaurant, along with Chester’s Chophouse and a few other Kansas restaurants, regularly is recognized in Wine Spectator lists but that this list is “kind of unprecedented for Wichita.”
It’s something that Steven, who recently became a certified sommelier and a certified specialist in wine, says he’s worked hard for.
“It’s just something we’ve been working on for a long time, and it’s always developing.”
He’s had some fun with it, too.
“The research is fun, yes. I do get to travel quite a bit and meet … with winemakers.”
He often meets with wine reps to “kind of do the Pepsi challenge, so to speak, which is kind of fun.”
There are more than 350 wines on the Wine Dive’s menu.
“It’s tough keeping track of 350 wines and know a little about each one in order to sell them,” Steven says.
“I spend more time at the Wine Dive than I do at the Hill for that reason,” he says of the other restaurant he and his brother own at that intersection.
Steven says he likes reading about wine regions and their histories.
“Kind of the story of each individual wine.”
Is it possible Steven has the best job in Wichita?
“I’m doing exactly what I love, and I feel like a lot of people can’t really say that.”
The restaurant opened in 2010 as Mike’s Wine Dive, but “Mike’s” is now gone from the sign and eventually it will be from everything else in the restaurant, too.
Steven says originally the idea was to find a name that was something everyone could pronounce and wasn’t anything pretentious.
“Everyone’s like, ‘Hey, I want to talk to Mike.’ ‘Where’s Mike?’
“We were over it,” Steven says. “Let’s be real: Who the hell is Mike anyways?”