The story behind the sale of the third long-time Austin hospitality business
In the mid-Eighties, British couple Sue Carter and Leonard Joseph decided to move to America and live in Austin. In order to get entrepreneurship visas, they had to create their own business venture. The clever team applied their career skills, his in accounting and business management and hers in graphic arts and marketing, to their recreational passion, fine wines, and the Cellar was born. They originally opened for business in the Arboretum in November of 1986 and moved to the current location (3520-A-B Bee Caves Rd., 328-6464) in April of 1989. Over a period of 15 years, the Cellar became known for Leonard and Sue's excellent personal customer service, their wit and charm, and their unflagging support of the local restaurant community. They cultivated many good friends rather than just customers. The Cellar's informal Saturday afternoon wine tastings have always offered a great opportunity to learn about new wines, and the monthly newsletters are filled with interesting tidbits of news and restaurant suggestions. For the past three years, the Cellar had been on the market but, until recently, Leonard and Sue were unable to find buyers who shared both their particular passion for wine and their vision for the business.
Luckily for everyone, the right buyers appeared late last year, and the Cellar officially changed hands on January 2, 2002. "It worked out well for everyone," Leonard Joseph told me last week. "We were ready to retire, and we finally found a deal that's a good fit." The new owners are Rob Moshein, formerly of Rueben's and Twin Liquors, and Todd Mathis, a 1997 graduate of the California Culinary Academy. The talented young team will draw on Moshein's extensive wine retailing background and chef Mathis' knowledge of food and wine pairing to maintain the Cellar's established quality of service. Look for them to expand the popular Saturday wine tastings and offer monthly wine appreciation classes in private homes. A new Web site, www.thecellaraustin.com should be up and running by the end of the month. Moshein and Mathis are looking forward to cultivating good friends at the Cellar just as their predecessors did so well over the years.
Leonard Joseph and Sue Carter's many friends will be pleased to know they won't be leaving Austin now that they've sold their business. While enjoying their retirement, Sue plans to update her graphic arts skills with some computer classes and Leonard has happily returned to his sporadic 40-year international cab driving career. The Cellar is the third long-time Austin hospitality business to accomplish a successful sale in 2001. The other two were Jean-Luc's French Bistro, purchased by chef Shawn Cirkiel and his family, and Word of Mouth Catering, which was bought by the Littlefield Hospitality Group.