Bars

Here’s Your First Look at Gray’s Hall, a Laid-Back Southie Wine Bar Opening in December

This sibling to award-winning wine-and-cheese shop American Provisions wants to break down "pretentious" barriers.

Photos courtesy of Gray’s Hall

Thanks in no small part to bottle shops like American Provisions pushing the conversation on natural wines, Boston is in the midst of a big moment for juice lovers—and now that wine-and-more store is getting a sister wine bar. Gray’s Hall is on track to open in early December, next door to the award-winning, original location of American Provisions in South Boston.

Former Row 34 wine director, Waypoint bartender, and Dorchester native Mira Stella is on board as general manager and wine director. Marcos Sanchez, most recently the chef de cuisine at the Boston area’s first all-natural wine bar, Tasting Counter, is developing a small menu of cheese and charcuterie boards, veggie-focused small plates, and sweets for Gray’s Hall. But despite the illustrious leadership team, the new spot aims to make small-batch wines and world-renown cheeses accessible to everyone, says cofounder Matthew Thayer.

The wine and cheese industries “can be pretty frickin’ pretentious, both with their pricing, and with the way we talk about it,” Thayer acknowledges. “With the vibe that we create, we’re trying to knock that down and make people feel comfortable while they’re in here. If you come into American Provisions, we might have a retail bottle of a Grand Cru champagne or something that is expensive, but we also really strive to be an everyday spot where somebody can come in and get a $13 bottle of red to drink with their pizza.”

Gray’s Hall will offer a similar selection, ranging from approachable wines by-the-glass to special-occasion bottles. Stella’s small list will evolve daily—and sometimes, even more often. “The beauty of having a small wine bar is that, even if you only get an allocation of three bottles of something, you can still put it on your list and have a lot of people try it. So that’s exciting to us, to [offer] wine that is grown by farmers and made by real people, just like we do at American Provisions.”

Sanchez, who was also the opening chef at Jamaica Plain tapas house Tres Gatos, is also inspired by farmers. “Marcos’s passion for cooking seasonally will drive the menu,” Thayer says. “He brings a ton of experience that is super relevant to anybody opening a restaurant, but especially us, doing seasonally focused food to pair with wine.”

Thayer and his business partner, Andy Fadous, opened a second location of American Provisions at Ashmont earlier this year. They’ve been planning this full-service expansion of their mission for a long time, Thayer says. When a former nail salon became available next door to the original shop, they jumped on the opportunity.

“I love food and I love wine, but that’s not what drives me in this business. I’m driven by community aspect of it,” Thayer says. “We don’t look at it as that different of a concept. We’re bringing people together around food and wine, only you’re sitting down at Gray’s, and taking out at American Provisions.”

Thayer’s wife, Meredith, owns Southie’s Thayer Design Studio, which created the intimate, 30-seat bistro. There’s a 16-seat bar, plus a standing-height communal table, a window-facing drink rail, and tables along the wall opposite the bar. An abstract collection of signage adds a pop of color to the black, white, and brick-red room, and greenery adds some cheerful life to the space. At this point, though, there’s no plan for any exterior signage, but there is a small plaque on the building that notes the corner of I Street and East Broadway was once the original Gray’s Hall. In 1880, it was the home of the country’s oldest civic organization, the South Boston Citizens Association.

“That idea of an early meeting place spoke to us about community and what we want this place to be,” Thayer says.

Gray’s Hall awaits a couple final inspections before opening. When it debuts, it will be open nightly from 4 p.m.-midnight.

Coming December 2019, 615 East Broadway, South Boston, grayshall.com.

Photos courtesy of Gray’s Hall