The Tasting Room

Nov 8th, 2016 | By | Category: Uncategorized

By Josh Friesen

Jim Hickey, left, and his wife, Kim, have opened The Tasting Room at 328 W. Clark St. in Old Town Pocatello.

Jim Hickey, left, and his wife, Kim, have opened The Tasting Room at 328 W. Clark St. in Old Town Pocatello.

POCATELLO — When Jim and Kim Hickey had the opportunity to buy three high quality wine-dispensing machines from the closed-down Marigolds Wine & Delicacies, they knew they had the makings of something exciting.

Six months later, they figured out exactly what to do with them. Now, those dispensing machines sit in The Tasting Room at 328 W. Clark St. in Old Town Pocatello.

The Tasting Room opened in mid-June. Today, nearly five months later, the hip, industrial-chic inspired wine-and-beer spot caters to a rapidly rising clientele.

“It’s been very well-received,” Kim said. “We’ve gotten a lot of return customers and a lot of word-of-mouth recommendations, which we feel is really positive.”

The Tasting Room started off being open Friday through Sunday. But as word spread, the Hickeys realized they needed to expand their hours. Now, The Tasting Room is open Monday through Thursday from 4-9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 4-10 p.m., and Sunday from noon-5 p.m.

“We’re six days a week now,” Jim said. “And that’s because we feel like the demand is there — the appetite is there.”

The Tasting Room works off gift-card like transactions. Customers buy a card and load it with money. Those cards are inserted into the wine dispensing machines. Patrons select the amount and the kind of wine they’d like to try, and the funds are automatically deducted from the card.

And the machines themselves? They’re top-notch. They run on an argon gas system in which the gas sits on top of the opened bottle of wine, which preserves the wine for up to a month.

“So we can open a $200 bottle of wine and have it completely preserved,” Jim said. “People come in and taste it for a fraction of that cost and decide whether they like it or whether they don’t.”

New wines are always cycling in and out of the selection, as is the assortment of beers, which customers are also able to taste and purchase. While The Tasting Room doesn’t have a kitchen and can’t cook meals, folks are able to buy cheese and breadsticks to accompany the vast array of beverages. The Tasting Room has started a special wine-tasting on Wednesdays, and it has also implemented a wine and beer buyers club.

Jim works in real estate in both Wyoming and Idaho. Kim works for a pair of wineries out of California and manages their distribution in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Both have experience tasting wine and beer, and traveling through wine country. The Tasting Room blends all of Jim and Kim’s experiences. From the wine selection to the chairs to the lighting, The Tasting Room is a snapshot of the Hickey couple’s personality.

“We play the music we like to play, and we have the wines and beers that we like and think the public will enjoy,” Jim said. “The space — Kim picked out all the furniture. We looked at the lighting together. It is a reflection of what we have and what we’re about in a lot of ways.”

The Hickeys have dreams of someday expanding The Tasting Room, turning it into a bigger space and adding a food component. But that’s a potential discussion for further down the road.

For now, Jim and Kim are perfectly content sipping wine in their quaint space in Old Town, basking in downtown Pocatello’s charismatic charm, talking about which bottles to open next week and about how to make their current business dynamic, fresh and interesting.

“It really does reflect a lot of great experiences we’ve had tasting wine and tasting beer and being in wine country,” Kim said. “We like bringing a little bit of that to Pocatello.”

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