Kris Kelnero talks with customers at Vinbero, a wine bar and restaurant in Edmonds, during the venue’s soft opening last Friday. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Kris Kelnero talks with customers at Vinbero, a wine bar and restaurant in Edmonds, during the venue’s soft opening last Friday. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Vinbero, a new wine bar, opens in downtown Edmonds

Priced out of the home real estate market, the Kelneros invested their down payment in a second business.

EDMONDS — What do you do when you’ve been priced out of the real estate market, and now you’ve got a hefty down payment just sitting in the bank?

Record low mortgage rates, a shortage of homes for sale and frenzied bidding wars have driven median home prices in Snohomish County up 24% year-over-year in April, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Kris and Kali Kelnero, the owners of Kelnero, an Edmonds cocktail lounge, were in just such a pickle. They recently decided to suspend their search for a three-bedroom home because “it’s insane out there,” Kris Kelnero said of the housing market.

“Now, what do you do with your down payment?” Kelnero said. “If it just sits in the bank, you’re losing money.”

When an opportunity to put those dollars to work cropped up, the couple had their answer: Put it toward a second business.

“By rolling that capital into this place, we can open it for very little debt,” Kelnero said.

By “this place,” Kelnero is referring to Vinbero, a new wine bar the Edmonds couple opened this month at 203 Fifth Ave. S in downtown Edmonds.

If the address sounds familiar, it’s because it is the former location of The Cheesemonger’s Table, a casual cafe and gourmet food shop that closed in April after a nine years.

Last year, the cafe’s owners, Strom Peterson and Maria Montalvo, began searching for the right person or people to take over the business.

The Kelneros, who opened nearby Kelnero at 545 Main St. 18 months ago, came to mind.

The pretzel reuben at Vinbero, a wine bar and restaurant in Edmonds, is served with a side of salt-and-pepper popcorn. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The pretzel reuben at Vinbero, a wine bar and restaurant in Edmonds, is served with a side of salt-and-pepper popcorn. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

“Maria and I know that they care about Edmonds, and we are so impressed with their attention to detail and commitment to offering every customer something special,” Peterson said.

Turning the former cafe into a wine bar — the Kelneros’ plan — was an appealing concept, Montalvo said. “We are so looking forward to their fantastic interpretation of a wine bar in the beautiful, welcoming space they are creating,” Montalvo said.

Former Cheesemonger customers will find similar menu items at Vinbero, Kelnero said.

“To start, we’ll have 10 sandwiches and five salads and 20 wines by the glass, and then build it up from there,” Kelnero said.

Vinbero will also carry a take-out selection of cheeses, chocolates and wines.

“We intend to preserve the legacy of great cheese and food built by Strom and Maria, and expand on that with a wine program,” Kali Kelnero said. “Cheese and wine are a natural pair.”

Vinbero is expected to employ about a dozen people, including four former Cheesemonger employees, and will seat about 30.

In deciding what to name the new establishment, the Kelneros turned to Esperanto, a language created in the 1880s that was intended to unite the world linguistically.

Vinbero, a wine bar and restaurant in Edmonds, is the new business venture of Kris and Cali Kelnero.

Vinbero, a wine bar and restaurant in Edmonds, is the new business venture of Kris and Cali Kelnero.

When the Kelneros married, they both jettisoned their existing surnames, said to heck with a hyphenated name and chose a brand new last name, Kelnero, which means “bartender” in Esperanto.

In search of a name for their new wine bar, they again consulted the Esperanto dictionary and found Vinbero, which means grape.

Kris, who grew up in Mountlake Terrace, is handy in the kitchen and the bar, but he’s also handy with a saw. The restaurant’s wine racks and cabinetry are his handiwork, along with an abstract wooden art installation that hangs on the south wall.

The kitchen and serving area were already in place, saving time and money, Kelnero said. It was more a matter of freshening up the look with paint and bar stools, he said. “It wasn’t like building a whole new restaurant or tearing out the drywall and putting in electrical.”

Vinbero is yet another business opening during the pandemic, part of a larger, national trend that’s seen the number of new ventures surge.

Last year, 4.3 million new businesses were founded, according to an Internal Revenue Service measure, up 18% compared to 3.5 million in 2019. The upward trend continues this year. In March, more than 440,000 new businesses were founded, according to the IRS, which processes applications for Employer Identification Numbers.

The Kelneros’ new venture coincides with the arrival of their first baby, due in July. “The timing is a little crazy,” Kris Kelnero said. “But, why not take on a new baby and a business at the same time?”

As for the three-bedroom home they hoped to buy? For now, that search has been shelved.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Funko warehouse in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Funko to close Everett warehouses, shift work to Arizona

The company headquarters are currently in downtown Everett, but distribution will move to a Phoenix suburb.

FILE - In this Monday, March 1, 2021 file photo, The first Alaska Airlines passenger flight on a Boeing 737-9 Max airplane takes off on a flight to San Diego from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. A Boeing pilot involved in testing the 737 Max jetliner was indicted Thursday, Oct. 14,2021 by a federal grand jury on charges of deceiving safety regulators who were evaluating the plane, which was later involved in two deadly crashes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Alaska Airlines to add Boeing 737s to the Paine Field fleet

It’s a sign of the growing popularity of flying from Everett. So far, much smaller Embraer E175s have been the rule.

FILE - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson talks to reporters, Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, during a news conference in Seattle. In a 5-4 decision Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, the Washington Supreme Court upheld an $18 million campaign finance penalty against the Consumer Brands Association, formerly known as the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Ferguson sued the group in 2013, alleging that it spent $11 million to oppose a ballot initiative without registering as a political committee or disclosing the source of the money. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington justices uphold $18M fine in GMO-labeling case

Big grocers funneled dark money into a campaign against genetically modified labels on food packaging.

Mara Wiltshire, left, celebrates her first place finish in Mario Cart against her son Miles Jenkins, 7, as Calvin Jenkins, 5, looking on Friday evening at their home in Everett, Washington on January 7, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Child care’s heightened burden takes parents out of workforce

One Snohomish County mom said she couldn’t return to work “because I didn’t have child care and I wouldn’t be able to afford it.”

In this photo taken May 17, 2017, wine barrels are shown at a vineyard adjacent to the Walla Walla Vintners winery in Walla Walla, Wash. The remote southeastern Washington town of Walla Walla - which used to be best known for sweet onions and as home of the state penitentiary - has now reinvented itself into a center of premium wines and wine tourism. (AP Photo/Nicholas K. Geranios)
More sustainable Washington wines are on the way

Labels will indicate grape growers met guidelines in 9 areas, including water, pest and labor practices.

A sign bearing the corporate logo hangs in the window of a Starbucks open only to take-away customers in this photograph taken Monday, April 26, 2021, in southeast Denver.  Starbucks is no longer requiring its U.S. workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, reversing a policy it announced earlier this month. The Seattle coffee giant says, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022,  it's responding to last week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Starbucks nixes vaccine mandate after Supreme Court ruling

The move reverses a policy the coffee company announced earlier this month.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Regulators OK doubling of composting operation in Stanwood

Lenz Enterprises can now handle 150,000 tons a year. Residents worry odors will be a problem.

Christian Sayre
Everett bar owner arrested again on new sexual assault charges

Christian Sayre, longtime owner of The Anchor Pub, was charged Friday with 10 counts of felony sex offenses.

FILE - Bill Gates speaks during the Global Investment Summit at the Science Museum, London, Tuesday, Oct, 19, 2021. A small city in the top U.S. coal-mining state of Wyoming will be home to a Bill Gates-backed experimental nuclear power project near a coal-fired power plant that will soon close, officials announced Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. (Leon Neal/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Microsoft to review workplace harassment, including Bill Gates allegations

One engineer wrote in a letter that she had a sexual relationship with Gates over several years.

Snohomish roofing company fined another $425K for safety violations

Allways Roofing has had at least seven serious injuries on its job sites, according to the state.

ZeroAvia will collaborate with Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines, to produce a hydrogen-electric powertrain capable of flying 76-seat regional De Havilland Q400 aircraft in excess of 500 nautical miles. (Alaska Airlines)
Hydrogen-powered aircraft company ZeroAvia coming to Everett

It adds to Snohomish County’s growing repertoire of firms focused on flight without petroleum.

Jack Ng, owner of China City, at his restaurant in Mill Creek on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Businesses and nonprofits plan to push through COVID in 2022

“You can’t just wait until the fog clears,” says one business owner. Here’s what he and others are planning.