Musician hooks customers on wine, records

Musician hooks customers on wine, records

February 25, 2016

Sugar Land resident Paul Killingsworth had always wanted to start his own business – but it took a while to figure out the type of venture that interested him most.

“I was a want-repreneur,” he recalled. “I had about a million ideas – and I was going down the list all the time.”

Eventually, Killingworth, 39, found a way to combine his two passions – music and wine – into a unique retail concept.

In April, he and his wife Nichole opened a carefully curated retail shop called Vino & Vinyl at 3340 Murphy Road in Missouri City – pairing fine wines with new and used records on the shelves. Shoppers are invited to peruse the vinyl, sample a bottle and check out works by local artists hanging on the walls.

Word spread quickly about the shop over the spring and summer and by fall, customers were requesting that Killingsworth consider making a change to his business model. “They like the experience and they don’t want to leave,” Killingsworth said. And so he has started a new project – turning the retail space into a wine bar.

The shop is remaining open while he completes a few remodeling projects – and he plans to finalize the transformation into a bar in February.

There will be about 30 seats in the space, including banquette seating and a wine tasting table, as well as a record nook. Craft beer will also be featured on the menu.

“We’re really trying to give people a great experience,” Killingsworth said.

Opening the shop

Killingsworth has been a professional musician since majoring in music performance at Southwest Missouri State University – and also worked in the restaurant business. After moving to Houston from his native Springfield, Missouri, he took a position as a manager at Perry’s Steakhouse and Grille.

“I really got the wine bug,” he said. “When I would sell wine to a table, I would get really excited. They started to trust me and they knew what I would recommend would be a home run.”

Killingsworth decided to make a move and started working for a fine wine distributor. While selling bottles to various shops and venues around Houston, he noticed that there was a gap close to where he lived.

“I was on my route through Fort Bend and Sugar Land, and there was nothing out here,” he said. “Even the restaurants were primarily pouring grocery store wines by the glass. There was just a void that needed to be filled.”

He also noticed a market trend of more people buying records. “Vinyl is having a renaissance,” he said. “It’s just that experience of listening through a record from beginning to end.”

Now he said that customers come to the shop equally for the music and the wine. “Folks come in, do a wine tasting and shop,” he said. “Every day we have a different wine open to let people taste something new. They take a sample – and then they’re flipping through records.”

Vino & Vinyl carries mainly indie rock, pop and soul albums. “On the music side, we’re doing the same thing as with the wine – exposing people to new things,” he said. “There are a million different bands and a million different wineries. We just want to have the best.”

A place to explore

By carrying unique, domestic wines, as well as a diverse album selection, Killingsworth hopes to create a space for customers to explore their palates and their musical tastes.

“It’s just a place where people can explore – and try new music and try new wine,” he said. “We’re trying to bring some soul to the suburbs.”

He is building the type of wine bar where he would want to hang out – and hoping it will appeal to kindred spirits living in the area.

“There are a lot of families out here who lived in Montrose or the Heights and at some point moved to the suburbs,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean they don’t want good food and good wine. To have that neighborhood spot is what we’re going for.”

His customers are eagerly anticipating the reopening as a wine bar. Chris Rowzee has been a regular at the shop since it opened.

“I have a passion for wine and a passion for music,” he said. “It was a perfect marriage for me.”

Rowzee said that Killingsworth has introduced him to a lot of top-notch wine and new bands for his stereo system.

“Every one of his customers wanted him to turn this into a wine bar,” Rowzee said. “He carries wines that you can’t find at the grocery store. He gets to know his customers by first name. He knows what you like ­- and that makes it an intimate experience.”

Elda Filjon said Killingsworth’s extensive knowledge of wine is what keeps her coming back.

“He took the time to pinpoint my palates – and I’ve never had anyone do that before,” she said. “I fell in love with Vino & Vinyl, because he listened and is knowledgeable – and now I’m completely addicted.”

Filjon hopes that Killingsworth will open more locations in the future. “I’m such a big fan of his vision and his passion,” she said. “It’s edgy, it’s arty and I think it’s incredible.”