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Wednesday, July 18 Business

Old Greenwich venture debuts with new wine shop

A former Fairway manager will run a new wine shop a few blocks east of Greenwich Avenue, with its founding team envisioning possible additional locations in time.

The new shop, which is as yet unnamed, is the debut project of 16 Forty Ventures, an investment group created last year by a quartet of town residents seeking investment opportunities to improve the Greenwich community “and have fun along the way” as stated on the firm’s website.

Founders of 16 Forty Ventures include Khaled El-Marsafy of restaurant investment firm Legendary Brands Advisors in New York City; attorney Matt Murphy of Murphy Bova, which has an office in Stamford; Scott Rodgers, an independent creative advertising director; and Merrill Squires, who runs a business accelerator consultancy.

Robert Petz will lead the shop at 102 Bruce Park Ave., with Petz formerly a manager at Fairway Wines & Spirits in Stamford. The storefront represents Greenwich’s last remaining liquor permit, having formerly been the home of Bruce Park Liquors which relocated to Mason Street. Most recently, the space was home to J Papers, which moved to the Village Square center on Mason Street.

With the shop’s Bruce Park Avenue building also home to Bon Ton Fish Market and Greenwich Prime Meats, Petz likened the corner to Cos Cob’s business center on East Putnam Avenue where Fjord Fisheries and Fleishers Craft Butchery have created a magnet benefiting other businesses.

“Our idea was to take that and make it even a bigger symbiotic relationship — you have the best of prime meats and fresh fish and all the wine and spirits that you could shake a stick at,” Petz said. “We want to ... breathe a bit of new life into that area.”

Murphy said the shop will open in September or October and could serve as a springboard for additional locations, depending on how it performs.

That is Petz’s job, who came to know Murphy through their children. Petz was drawn to the wine business a decade ago after working as a Chicago-area information technology specialist for TransUnion, eventually tiring of the grind of managing IT teams in distant time zones like India. With a long-standing interest in wine, he coupled a move to Old Greenwich where his wife grew up with a career change, taking a job with AOC Fine Wines on North Street in Greenwich, and then joining Fairway.

Among the many things not lacking in Greenwich are wine and liquor stores, with the town one of about 125 in Connecticut to have maxed out its available allotment of liquor permits at two dozen. Under state law, the Connecticut Liquor Commission authorizes towns to issue one permit for every 2,500 residents.

The closest specialty wine store to Bruce Park Avenue is Putnam & Vine at the corner of East Elm and Mason streets. Petz believes the new shop will carve out its own name in Old Greenwich — when that name is decided.

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“I want to work with those products that show us something new or have a story to tell or that come from a sense of place,” Petz said. “It’s about discovery and pushing oneself to find that new family brewery, or artisanal distiller. I am constantly seeking out the best farmers, who care for their fruit and work in unison with winemakers who pass that care into the winemaking process.”

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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