A wine tasting and tour at Crossing Vineyards in Washington Crossing is a vibe.
Sipping wine in an old pants factory boiler room is a whole mood.
The Boiler Room by Crossing Vineyards at The Square in Dublin is the new wine bar that the Carroll family, who started its popular vineyard in 2003 in Upper Makefield, hopes will welcome patrons with its “come in, sit down, listen to music” style.
It’s the family’s second wine bar where they highlight wines produced on their 20-acre Crossing Vineyards and offer specialty drinks and small bites. The first opened in Scranton in 2018.
The Carroll family eventually hopes to open similar spaces in Doylestown and Quakertown, but for now, they are focused on their new venture in Dublin, which opened this summer.
The wine bar sits in The Square, an old pants factory turned into a community hub. The bar is one of many local vendors, makers and small businesses to set up shop in the square-shaped building on Main Street.
Tom Carroll was introduced to The Square on the site of the former Dublin TEC Center and pants factory — previously serving as a factory and small business incubator — by Rob Loughery, former Bucks County commissioner chairmen and partner with Steve Gilmore on the Dublin Town Center project, which is a large development plan for the town.
During the initial tour of the building, Loughery took Carroll to the old boiler room of the factory. As they surveyed the pipes, gauges and valves, Loughery suggested the space could be a wine bar called the boiler room.
Carroll agreed and decided to go for it.
“It’s got so many different meanings because The Boiler Room was a real boiler room but it’s kind of like the whole connotation with alcohol in the boiler,” Carroll said. “We chose that, to call it The Boiler Room by Crossing Vineyards, of course.”
Carroll knows a good idea when he hears one. That’s how he and his wife, Christine, got into the wine business.
When their son Tom Jr., then just 10, got a look at the family’s new farm, he told his parents the property could be a vineyard and winery.
“I laughed and looked at him and said, ‘Eat your Cheerios, I gotta go to work,’” Carroll said. “I ignored him — like any good parent would, right?”
Years went by and Tom Jr. went on to become a professional actor and eventually relocated to California. After a few years, he was ready to come home and called his parents at 3 a.m., saying he wanted to “’plant these vines – I want to establish these roots and at the same time establish my roots.’”
“Well, I started bawling,” Carroll said. “My wife — she’s crying. He’s (his son) bawling. I said, ‘Move back and let’s figure out how to do this.’ He moved back, we hired a consultant, and that was almost 20 years ago. Then in 2003, we opened the winery.”
Now they are ready to give their wine bar concept roots.
A modern look with a bit of history
Retaining elements of the old factory, the Boiler Room has a chic, contemporary restored look. The ceiling has the old pipes, and the floor has the original concrete to give “the sense and feel that you are kind of in that space of the boiler room,” said Carroll Sr.
Walking in, guests are greeted by a row of stylish booths and tables. Then taking two steps up through the sliding barn door, the main bar and dining area welcome guests to sit at the high-top tables in plush, leather chairs.
Mid-century modern chairs line the bar where manager Ben Krauss mixes drinks and serves them on a marble countertop. There’s a designed tile backsplash behind Krauss and vintage-looking exposed blub lights that hang from the ceiling.
And for those Instagramers looking for a cute mirror selfie, a large arched gold-rimmed floor mirror leans on one wall.
The back door leads to a comfortable patio with picnic Adirondack chairs and firepits.
“You can’t just create character — either a building has character, or it doesn’t,” Carroll said. “I think that The Boiler Room has an awful lot of character.”
What’s on the menu?
In the clean, vibrant space, guests can sip on specialty cocktails, wine and beer flights, wine slushies complete with vodka and munch on small bites.
The drink menu is a staff collaboration with employees and Krauss brainstorming cocktail ideas and names.
Cocktails include the Kirsche Royale (a Crossing Vineyards Blanc de Blancs and sour cherry liqueur), Lavender Lemonade (blended whiskey, fresh lemon juice, lavender simple syrup from Peace Valley Lavender Farm in Doylestown), Cucumber Gimlet (vodka from Faber Distilling Co. in Trumbauersville, muddled cucumbers, fresh lime juice), Crossing75 (Faber Distilling Co. gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, Crossing Vineyards Blanc de Blancs), Pennsylvania Paloma (Keystone tequila, fresh grapefruit juice, lime, club soda) and Black Coffee (Faber Distilling Co. vanilla vodka, espresso, simple syrup).
Carroll said they are still developing their small bites menu and currently offer charcuterie boards and pretzel bites. The food is made by Alexis DeLuca, who owns and runs The Novel Baker at The Square.
“We’re just trying to do all the key stuff and all the charcuterie,” Carroll said. “We’re basically trying to start slow and crawl before we walk, and jog before we run and so forth. We’re in an evolutionary stage right now — what are we going to do food-wise, how we’re going to do it.”
They plan to expand with a full kitchen in the space behind The Boiler Room, hire a chef and add menu items like flatbreads and salads.
The goal is to do light bites, says Carroll. Not to have a restaurant but a menu that offers “meaningful foods, especially food for wine and wine pairing.”
Expanding the Crossing Vineyards brand
The decision to open in Dublin was due to the growing Crossing Vineyards customer base in the town and neighboring areas of Central Bucks. They also wanted to be a part of the development of the town with new establishments like The Square.
The Carrolls have sold their wines at retail outlets in New Hope, Wrightstown and Scranton for six years. Now, they are trying to convert these outlets into wine bars like The Boiler Room because they like the concept of offering their products to guests on a personal level.
“The thing that’s really cool about it is that when we first had these outlets, they were just retail stores where all you can really do is go in and buy our wine, and then take our wine home,” Carroll said. “Now, with the law change, which allows us to create this wine bar type thing, that’s why we’re trying to convert all these over to wine bars and make it more of a destination where you go and hang out and have a good time.”
The family business plans to recreate the experience in Doylestown and then later in Quakertown.
Carroll, who’s lived in Washington Crossing for 38 years, has seen a “tremendous population expansion” and development in Dublin over the years — citing the traffic on Routes 313 and 413, the flow of people going further north due to expensive properties in places like Upper Makefield and changing demographics in what he calls the “Doylestown, Dublin, Quakertown corridor.”
A clear example of the town’s progress is The Square, says Carroll. What appealed to him was The Square’s restoration into a “community center” where people can shop, eat, drink and hang out.
The Square houses cake boutique The Novel Baker, home goods market Makers: Vintage + Handmade, home and children store Pineapple on Main, apparel and lifestyle store Wildflower Valley, toast eatery Farm to Toast, food items store Wheat & Vine Provisions Co. and salon and spa Manes on Main.
Plus, with the development of new houses and apartments, eateries and brewpubs nearby, he said, “It’s kind of this oasis in the middle of what once was this old named street of a town that’s now coming to life and really, it’s exciting.”
And there’s more to come.
Loughery and Gilmore are reconstructing the old Dublin service station that dates back to the 1920s as a part of their town development project.
The Station, as it will be called, will house Neshaminy Creek Brewing Co., Itri Wood Fired Pizza and Nina’s Waffles and Ice Cream. Goldie’s Grill and Juicy Burrito are two other prospects that will be open.
The food venue is under construction. Loughery said they are aiming to open Labor Day but believes it will be fully open later in September.
“You can see it’s coming to life; it’s revitalization,” Carroll said.
Hira Qureshi covers food and drink for the Courier Post, Burlington County Times, Daily Journal, Bucks County Times andIntelligencer. She can be reached at HQureshi@gannettnj.com or 856-287-8106. Help support local journalism with a digital subscription.