After 18 years in the restaurant catering and food contracting industry—most recently as director of catering and sales for Bon Appetit Management Company for the Cleveland Museum of Art—Lindsay Smith decided it was time to debunk some of the myths surrounding fine wines.
5712 Detroit Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44102
Namely, Smith wants to correct the perceptions that wine is expensive, intimidating, and highbrow. “There’s a stigma that wine is expensive,” she says. “Wine doesn’t have to be scary or stuffy. It’s just wine.”
On Friday, December 14, Smith opened Flight Cleveland in the Gordon Square Arts District. The wine bar specializes in wine flights—offering two-ounce tastes of three different wine selections—as well as wine by the glass or bottle, in an open and inviting environment with knowledgeable staff.
“We’re really focused on providing good service to our customers and talking to them about their wine choices,” says Smith. “We talk to people about what they’re hoping to drink, and we guide them to the right place. We have an amazing staff who are super-engaged and super-smart about wine.”
Smith’s mission is to present wines in a way that invites her customers to try different varieties and discover their preferences. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a wine bar or shop feeling stupid and not knowing what I’m doing,” she says.
At Flight Cleveland, the staff of eight has tried everything on the menu, and bottle prices run between $12 and $35 a bottle on average. “We spent a lot of time putting these wines together,” explains Smith. “Lucky for us, we have some good people who have gone down the rabbit hole of wine nerds.”
The menu is easy to navigate, says Smith, with the first page listing the 12 available flights (one of them is a beer flight), and the second and third pages listing 36 wines on tap available by the glass or a two-ounce pour. All 400 bottles are available for purchase at retail prices, either to take home or in-house (with a $12 corkage fee).
Additionally, Smith offers local beers on draft that rotate among three taps. She has worked with Brick and Barrel, Forest City Brewery, Fat Head’s, and Hansa Brewery to ensure a good Northeast Ohio variety.
While Smith says Flight Cleveland does not offer craft cocktails—and plans to keep it that way—she does stock some small-batch producers of hard liquor and mixers for basic cocktails. Eventually, she would like to add wine cocktails to the menu.
“We’ll stay focused on wine and let those who craft cocktails do their thing,” she says.
Another myth Smith wants to dispel is that of wine bars always being dark, mysterious spaces. Flight Cleveland is bright and open, with tables and a bar scattered throughout rooms with exposed brick and light-colored wood. “People keep telling me they feel like they’re in someone’s living room,” she boasts. “I’m excited to finally be close to wine. That’s what I want."
Opening right before the holidays and choosing Gordon Square proved to be good moves. “It’s been super-busy, it’s been great,” Smith says of the holiday traffic. “I’m overwhelmed by the support we’ve gotten. The Gordon Square Arts District is an awesome neighborhood. I love being a part of it—there are a lot of cool and creative people doing interesting stuff. It’s a good sense of community.”
Flight Cleveland is open Tuesday through Thursday, 3 to 10 p.m.; Fridays, 3 to 11 p.m.; Saturdays, 12 to 11 p.m.; and Sundays 12 to 6 p.m. Flight Cleveland is closed on Mondays.