Tyler Florence is closing his shop temporarily to coincide with his planned installation of a test kitchen, with a 50% off sale this weekend to make room; Vintage Wine & Spirits is moving across the street.

PictureRichard Leland, owner of Vintage Wine & Spirits. Photo by Jim Welte.

For the first time in nearly 80 years, 67 Throckmorton Ave. will no longer be the home of a wine and spirits shop.

Richard Leland, the owner of Vintage Wine & Spirits, is moving his shop across the street, ending the space’s liquor link that dates back to shortly after Prohibition ended. Leland is making the move to 82 Throckmorton, formerly the home of the Blue Jeans Bar – and Strawbridge’s Stationers & Gifts, an institution in downtown Mill Valley from 1947 to 2009, before that – to accommodate the construction of the four already-approved “Aloha Lofts” residential units on the second floor of the building, as well as the significant and time-consuming retrofit of his space that will be a precursor to the residential construction upstairs.

Leland said the scope of the work’s impact on his business “just ended up being too long” for him, and he was lucky to find the just-vacated, relatively comparable space nearby. “This new space is just wonderful,” he said.

With Leland in the midst of a move that will have him re-open in his new space by Feb. 1 at the latest, his neighbor in the same building, the Tyler Florence Shop, is timing the retrofit work and upstairs construction for some remodeling of its own.

“Ever since we opened in 2008, we have wanted to host cooking classes, demonstrations and private events in our shop,” Tyler and Tolan Florence wrote in an email to customers. The building’s construction provided a long-sought opportunity to build a test kitchen at a time when the customer experience might be disrupted anyway by the dust and noise coming from the second floor.

To make room for the construction, the shop is having a 50 percent off sale this weekend – Jan. 25 and 26 – before they close the store temporarily. Store officials said they don’t yet have an exact timeline for when the store will re-open.

The Planning Commission approved the Aloha Lofts – four rental units between 750 and 940 square feet in size – in October 2012. Christine Lum of Lee Lum L.P., which has owned the building and the large parking lot behind it for 20 years, said they hope to begin construction in the project in late February.

Earthquake retrofit work in Leland’s former space will be up first and should take up to three months, and the space at 67 Throckmorton should be available for lease in May, she said. The second floor work will begin after that, she said.

The eventual residents of the Aloha Lofts will be the first people since 1956 to live on the second floor of one of downtown Mill Valley’s most prominent buildings.

It was built by Michael O’Shaughnessy, who owned it until he died in 1934, according to Barbara Ford of the Mill Valley Historical Society. It is widely known as the O’Shaughnessy Building, she said.

The upstairs space was condemned in 1956 after serving as a lodging house of sorts during World War II for employees of the Sausalito Shipyards and the Red Cross, operating under the name the Aloha Lido Hotel. Incredibly, the 4,000-square-foot space at Throckmorton and Corte Madera avenues has been empty ever since, through multiple building owners and many popular tenants in the storefronts below.

Lee Lum actually garnered approval for the same project in 2004, but the plans stalled for economic reasons, according to Evan Cross, the project’s architect and a tenant in the building.

Leland said he’s thrilled to be staying in downtown Mill Valley, where his longtime customers – “terrific, well-educated, bright people doing well in the world and accomplishing things but also finding ways to give back” – know where to find him. 

Leland bought the business in 1996, changing its moniker from Don Pozo’s, whose owner bought it in 1977. It had been called Red Hill Liquors prior to that, Leland said. Leland, who has spent most of his career on the business side of the wine and spirits business, save for a brief stab at leasing and running a 25-acre winery in the Napa Valley in the 1970s he describes as “man versus nature and nature won in the third round on a TKO.”

Mill Valley was the first place Leland lived when he moved to Northern California in 1972, and when he learned that Pozo was selling his shop in 1996, he jumped at the chance.

The main change in his business after the move will be that he will no longer sell beer, Leland said, to account for the decrease in square footage. He said beer represented a very small portion of his business, and that because the Mill Valley Market’s beer selection is so strong, he often sent beer customers over there anyway.

“They do a way better job than we ever did,” he said. “But everything else for us stays the same. It’s exciting.”

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