Building community with a bottle of wine
Insights from Kim Bosse and Sharon Provins, Birch Road Cellar (Lincoln Park, Roscoe Village)
“It really all started in my kitchen, and I was drinking wine. Like all great ideas.” — Kim
Kim Bosse (yes, that’s pronounced “bossy”) and Sharon Provins are not only childhood friends, but also co-founders of Birch Road Cellar, a BYOB neighborhood members club with locations in Lincoln Park & Roscoe Village. If the description leaves you with questions, it’s because Birch Road is the first of its kind — a completely new type of social gathering spot.
“We’ve essentially started a new category … I don’t think people really get it until they come here and see the space and experience it.” — Sharon
After years in the bar business, Kim kept finding herself wishing she had a different kind of place to go out and meet up with friends: “Some place where you could just sit and talk, and still get a really good drink.”
Meanwhile, Sharon spent time working in Seoul and traveling around the globe, discovering countless different cultures’ social scenes in the process.
“We’d be in a small town in Slovenia, and there’s the local beer hall, and everyone seemed to know each other. … It just seemed like such a nice community that I’d never experienced before in the cities I’ve lived in in the U.S.”— Sharon
When the two got together to catch up after Sharon’s travels, they couldn’t find a nice, kid-free space where they could sit and chat without having to order food or shout over music. They got to talking about the value of great conversation, and how the famous Harvard “happiness study” shows high quality relationships are a powerful factor in overall happiness and even physical health.
“Being able to have genuine conversation and not just small talk, and being able to spend time with the people in your life, and you’re not distracted by TVs or bartenders or staff, actually increases your happiness.” — Kim
Kim and Sharon had always considered the idea of starting a business together, and this felt meant to be.
“It was never a question of ‘could we work together’ or ‘could we do a business together.’ It was more like, what would that be and when.” --Sharon
Once you hear the story of their lifelong friendship, it’s obvious why it was only a question of when. It all started when Sharon was in fourth grade and her family moved to Northbrook. On the first day of school, Kim raised her hand and volunteered to show the new girl around. They quickly discovered that they lived a few houses down from each other on the same street, Birch Road. After years in middle school and high school together, they both went off to college on the east coast. They were roommates in New York City, and saw each other through highs and lows, from their wedding days to losing their fathers.
“We’ve been through life together, and we’re the best business partners together.” — Kim
And starting a business has been in the works almost as long as their friendship:
“Our locations in Chicago is just the beginning. We are working on building a network of BYOB clubs, so that when one of our members lands in Austin for a weekend trip, their first stop is at the local Birch Road Cellar.” --Kim
For about four years now, Birch Road Cellar has been the happiness-creating, community-building, private-yet-social spot of their dreams.
“Everything we do is to distill your night down to what matters most, which is good conversation, and a good drink. I like to say, if you’ve ever spent a great night with friends at a lake house or on a back patio and just talked all night, and you’re like, ‘That was the best night!’ That’s what Birch Road Cellar’s like. You’re out, you’re with people, you’re not at home, but there’s not bill at the end of the night.” — Kim
If Birch Road might be up your alley, visit birchroadcellar.com to learn more.