Lake Wine & Liquor
342 Lake Avenue #350
Square footage: 2,385
Years in operation: 1.5 years
By Sara Capozzi
From the big-name brands to homegrown Connecticut-based craft products, a well-rounded selection awaits customers at Bristol’s Lake Wine & Liquor. According to Owner Mahesh Patel, that selection has been curated carefully since opening the store in May 2018 and according to the requests of his customer base.
“I started this store from scratch,” Patel said. “When we started, we had a basic selection … The first six months were tough, but as we continued to get customers and buy what the customers require, I filled out my store by ordering what they needed.”
Patel prides himself on giving the best service to customers, “treating them like family.” He will often bring items out to his customer’s car just to add a special touch. As Patel has continued to develop relationships with his clientele, he knows which products his regular customers are looking for and makes sure to keep those items in stock – never hesitating to do special orders – all resulting in more customer retention and his business’s continued growth.
Another solution to attract and keep customers has been to increase the store’s operating hours. “I heard from the customers when I opened that the previous owner opened around 2 o’clock and closed around 6 or 7,” Patel said. “So they wouldn’t stop by because the store wasn’t open regular hours.”
Located not far from Lake Compounce Amusement Park and the heavily traveled Route 229, where ESPN is located, Lake Wine & Liquor’s central location allows plenty of potential for new business. According to Patel, many of his regular customers hail from the surrounding neighborhood on the eastern side of Bristol or the Southington area. Patel estimates that about 60% to 65% of his customer base are workers from the nearby oil companies, Mystique Oil LLC and Berkshire Oil Inc.
According to Patel, wine of all types and varietals are popular at Lake Wine & Liquor. Customers will find a wide array: from Barefoot Wines to imported selections such as Chateau Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon and Moët & Chandon Champagnes. Domestic beers such as Miller, Budweiser and Coors are top sellers along with craft beer selections. Customers seeking spirits will find well-recognized brands such as Captain Morgan and Tito’s along with top-shelf bourbons, Scotches and vodkas.
Patel splits his time between Lake Wine & Liquor and Captain Jack’s Spirits in Dayville, which he has co-owned with his brother-in-law, Vimal Patel, since 2004. Day to day the duo runs and works at both locations. With a background in hospitality that has spanned over 20 years, Patel also currently owns and runs two hotels in the area. He said he enjoys the chance to get to know his customers. “The more you interact with people, the more you learn. We know the product; we know our stuff.”
“I like meeting new people,” Patel continued. “At the motel, I spend most of the day behind a desk. Here there are more opportunities to interact with the customers and I like that.”