Jana Emmons has plans for Ciao Vino to open next to Artspace and the Strauss Gallery in about five months.
Emmons signed the lease with Artspace about two weeks ago and will be at 218 High St., next to Rotary Park and the community chalkboard.
While there are a few motivations for opening Ciao Vino, the primary factor in fulfilling her long-held dream is her cousin Elisha, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
“She sadly passed away this February at the extremely young age of 38,” Emmons said. “We were very, very close. Always together. Vacationing together, weekends together with all our kids. It was an incredibly difficult, horrible time for everyone close to her. I am still in disbelief most days.”
But she started her business plan while Elisha was going through multiple rounds of chemotherapy, and it was because of her cousin’s fight with cancer that made Emmons realize, “There is no time to waste. Quit saying, ‘One day I’d like to…' and just go after it. Time is not infinite.”
While Elisha pushed her to follow through with her plan, the dream has been in her for a long time. She wanted to own her own place, but not just a ‘bar’ bar.”
“Wine’s always been a huge part of my life,” she said, including growing up at her grandfather’s restaurant and bar called the Venice Pavilion that was once located in Ross Twp. “We’d sit at the bar and order a Shirley Temple and we thought we were cool.”
While Emmons said her heritage will lean towards French and Italian wines being served, several kinds of wine options will be available. While wine will be the primary focus, there will be some limited liquor and canned beer options.
Making everyone feel welcome is something she achieves, including several of her family members and friends who don’t drink, “so I want really nice drinks for them as well,” said Emmons, who lives in Lindenwald with her husband, Clint, and two children, Lincoln, 13, and Mila, 10. “One of my big goals is to have some really nice mocktails and non-alcoholic options.”
There will be some light food options ― think charcuterie board options, breads, and desserts ― and hopes some of those limited menu items will be provided through partnerships with some local establishments.
This would be Emmons’ second business in Hamilton. She is part-owner of The Main Retreat Salon and Spa, 526 Main St., and is the salon’s esthetician.
The space is leased through Artspace Projects Inc., which owns the Artspace Hamilton Lofts. David Stark, the community manager at Artspace Hamilton Lofts said they’re excited for Emmons and Ciao Vino to open.
“Interesting wine and interesting art have historically paired well together,” said Stark. “And Jana’s personalized approach to this concept is quite creative — which is something we really value at Artspace, too.”