Model of Perfection
A toast to an exciting wine concept that works
- An easygoing approach to wine has made it a fixture at Earls
- he marquee sign welcomes you to the Toronto flagship location
- CThe stylish interior elevates the scene
When Leroy ‘Bus’ Earl Fuller and his son, Stanley Earl Fuller opened their restaurant in 1982, it was a West Coast casual, burger and beer joint. When Bus was on hand for the opening of Earls’ stylish flagship restaurant in downtown Toronto in February though, it was all about wine.
Fuller and Spit Decisions founder and wine finder for Earls, George Piper, crafted their wine program by embracing an established business model— namely the long-term supplier concept they’d employed for years. “But for whatever reason we never applied that philosophy to our wine program,” says Piper. That changed four years ago as they decided to go with the same long-term strategic partnership program that had made for better pricing, quality and selection for Earls customers. In essence, Earls guaranteed producers 10 years’ worth of buying in exchange for 10 years of good wine.
The board of selectors sat around and came up with a dream list, sent out a letter to that handpicked group of producers and had over 300 wines come back to taste through for their program.
“I think we had no idea how big it was going to get,” says Piper. “We just wanted to encourage people to drink better wines.”
Earls has three levels to their wine list. The Exclusive to Earls section sees premium juice that has been bought and made into a wine just for the restaurant through long-term contract. In addition, the One Price List is full of delicious offerings divided up in a very approachable way. All of the wines on it are priced the same, with two different tiers to decide from. A gas preservation system allows the restaurant to keep open bottles fresh, which means the selections from that list are available by the glass. The Reserve List is a small percentage of sales and available upon request.
“We don’t have any wine on our list that scares our customer,” says Fuller. earls.com.