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'I decided': College Station wine bar survives pandemic through perseverance

Posted at 11:14 AM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-12 12:15:06-04

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — It’s a sound that ran dry at the Downtown Uncorked wine bar; the sound of a glass of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay filling up a wine glass.

“There were times that I just didn’t know if I had it in me to keep going,” Melba Tucker, the owner of the small business said.

She had a dream of opening up a wine bar in the Brazos Valley after visiting the Heights and seeing the options folks there had.

In 2009, that dream became a reality.

“The more I visited these wine bars, the more I felt that our area needed something like that,” she said.

“I decided I would be the one to open it.”

Tucker has had a storefront in downtown Bryan for 11 years, but when COVID-19 hit, what some call the invisible disease, became very visible in her life.

She was forced to close her doors for the time being.

“There was a feeling of just not knowing what was happening next,” she said.

“How you're going to take care of your people, how we're gonna keep your business going.”

Now, without a home for her wine, and a staff she was struggling to support, she did all she could to keep the business afloat.

“We would not be here if it wasn’t for people,” she said.

Tucker began doing deliveries to people’s doorsteps as a way to keep income flowing in.

“I would have so many deliveries in a day that I would start in the morning and not stop until 7 or 8 at night,” she said as she smiled.

While some small businesses opened their doors more quickly than others, Tucker finally found a new home in south College Station, selling wine and small eats.

She is having a soft opening on September 20, but wanted to make sure the space was just right beforehand, so she invited friends and family to come and visit who then invited friends of their own.

Just by word of mouth, she started selling out food.

“Reviews can do huge things for a small business,” said Amy Rasor with the Better Business Bureau.

“It can really encourage other consumers to buy. And so having positive reviews can be a big deal for a small business.”

The support has made this nearly impossible dream feel possible again just a few uncertain years later.

“They wanted to help Uncorked stay open and that to me is worth…. when people complain about nothing to do, but you know they’re there when you need the help,” she said, smiling.