NORTH ADAMS -- A city man is hoping to make a new high-end delicatessen and package store a destination for tourists and locals alike.
Steeple City Spirits, which will open in the former Staples storefront in Steeple City Plaza, will offer over 1,400 varieties of wine and 500 types of beer, much of which will be craft or microbrews, according to Lou Matney Jr., of North Adams
"We're hoping to open the week before Memorial Day," he said Monday, following the store's approval by the city Redevelopment Authority. "We're really hoping to make it a destination. We want to bring in people who are on their way to ski or to bring in the people who are visiting Mass MoCA."
He added, "About 85 percent of our wines will be under $20. We also plan to have weekly tastings and eventually have food and wine classes."
Matney originally approached First Hartford Realty, which owns Steeple City Plaza, last year with the idea for a restaurant in the former Sears Hometown Store location, adjacent to the North Adams Movieplex.
"I wanted to serve food, beer and wine to the movie theater, as well as have a sit-down restaurant in the old Sears with a gaming center," he said.
While the plan was met with some hesitation and eventually dropped, Matney said he began speaking with First Hartford about the idea of opening the delicatessen and package store -- an idea inspired by Table & Vine in the Pioneer Valley. The idea grew into a partnership between First Hartford and Matney -- Steeple City Liquors Inc.
"They are fronting the money, which will be repaid, but it was my brainchild," Matney said. "I'm lucky to have them behind me."
According to documents filed with state Secretary William Galvin's office, Matney is president of Steeple City Liquors Inc., while First Hartford Vice President Peter Higgins is listed as vice president, treasurer and secretary. First Hartford CEO Neil Ellis is listed among its directors.
Michele Butler, of Cain Hibbard & Myers, who represented Steeple City Spirits during Monday night's meeting, said the front of the store would have a "high-end deli in one portion of the space, while selling beer and wine in another part of the space." The two will be divided by a partition, allowing the deli to operate at times when alcohol sales will not be permitted by local and state statute.
"The deli plans to sell Boar's Head products, custom sandwiches to eat-in or take out and to sell other pre-packaged gourmet foods -- meats, cheeses, salads, olives and desserts," she said. "There will be seating for about 28 in the deli. The sale of alcohol is only for off-premise consumption."
In addition, the store has hired Matthew McConnell as its resident sommelier.
Butler said the city's Licensing Board approved a retail package store license in November. The state Alcohol Beverage Control Commission approved the store's license at the end of March.
Redevelopment Authority member Michael Leary questioned how the store would host wine tastings if alcohol could not be consumed on-site.
"We have a package store license, which allows for wine tastings and samples," Butler said. "It allows a 2 ounce pour that is done by TIPS-trained individuals."
Matney said the store will be equipped with age-verification scanners at all of its point-of-sale registers and that a long-term plan includes the addition of a bakery.
In other business Monday night, the city's Planning Board approved the application of Northeast Wireless Solutions Inc., for the Verizon Wireless store at 43 Main St.
New owners Nate Bastarache and Keith Parzych, who own four other Verizon Wireless stores in Western Massachusetts, said they didn't plan any major changes to the store, except for extending its hours.
The board unanimously approved the application, with an extension of hours, Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the option of staying open until 8 p.m. It also approved the option of operating on Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email