In a Philadelphia neighborhood that has experienced tremendous expansion and development, Vanessa Wong founded Fishtown Social in 2016, a natural wine shop and bar that has enjoyed considerable success. She is currently building on this accomplishment and planning her next two endeavors at the Jersey Shore.
Wong will launch the Wahine Wine Company and Fish & Whistle Market on Friday, July 1. In a recently built structure at 101 N. Dorset Avenue, close to the base of the Dorset Avenue Bridge in Ventnor, NJ, the two new enterprises will be situated next to one another. Due to New Jersey's liquor restrictions, Wahine Wine Company will be similar to Fishtown Social in that it will fill its shelves with natural wines as well as craft spirits and beers.
With a focus on bringing local and Philadelphia-made items to the coast, Fish & Whistle Market will be a gourmet market offering everything from cheese and charcuterie to freshly cooked dishes, fruit, and supplies. The market will also partner with several local and Philadelphia-based small businesses to host pop-ups and tasting events throughout the year.
“Anybody who knows me knows that I love the beach. The ocean is and has always been my happy place, my respite,” said Wong. “It’s also no secret that operating under the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board makes it incredibly difficult to accomplish what I originally set out to do in Fishtown, which is to make good wine approachable and accessible for everyone. Thus, a location at the Jersey Shore where there is no state-run retail liquor system is a total no-brainer. There is so much more wine available at a significantly lower cost. I just need to find time to taste it all.”
Wong, a business owner and expert in natural wines, stated that she wants her clients to feel good about the drinks they enjoy while relaxing by the water. Natural, organic, and biodynamic wines that are exclusive to her new store will be sold in bottles, cans, boxes, and bags (besides Fishtown Social, of course). Wong will provide wines that are expertly crafted with minimal intervention and no additives.
The decision to build a market in addition to the wine shop was not simple, according to Wong, but ultimately it came down to what made the most sense from a commercial perspective.
"There is only one of me, and the day is too short. I questioned myself about what the neighborhood lacked and what would be most advantageous to the commercial corridor, just as I did when I came up with the Fishtown Social concept. Something special that doesn't exist on the island," Wong stated.
The store and the market will both be open six days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the exception of Tuesdays.