We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Black and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Laura, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I began my career in the restaurant industry in my teens as a server. While pursuing a Bachelor’s in Marketing I continued to work in restaurants serving, bartending and even back in the kitchen. I always knew I had a passion for people, for food and that I liked being of service to people. So I think I always knew I was best suited for roles that allowed me to help and be of service to people.

In my dreams and discussions with family and friends, I wanted to create a wine bar that felt welcoming, comfortable and elegant. Not a place where people feel un-welcome or feel talked down to by some wine person. My wine bar should make all feel welcome and reinforce the idea that you should drink what you like. As a sommelier our first job is to be hospitable and treat people with kindness. Too often during my wine journey I ran across wine professionals who treated people who knew less than them about wine like they were stupid or inferior. We did not have anything like what I was aiming to create in Flower Mound, so I hoped we would be able to fill a big gap in the market.

Finally life had taken some big twists and turns and my mind kept coming back to this idea of the wine bar. I kept discussing it with my family and friends and they could see I was really serious about it. Bolstered by my family and friends support I began researching, drafting a business plan, and finding the perfect location. For me to decide to take the leap into business ownership was easy once I had done the hard part: writing the business plan, finding the space, researching, talking to mentors etc. I knew the road would not be easy, that I was in for some very tough and exhausting days. But one thing I kept coming back to when I got scared I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, strong enough to pull this off was: “Why not me?” and “Will I regret this when I am older, that I wasn’t brave enough to chase my dream?” Both of those questions drove me to keep moving forward with my plans, take one day and roadblock at a time and just keep moving forward.

During construction we hit several snags and we were delayed several weeks past our initial timeline. I was so anxious to get into the space that every setback felt like a giant punch in the gut. Looking back, I now realize that everything happens for a reason and happens in God and the Universe’ timing. I had to learn to let go and trust it would all work out.

To me one of the best feelings is looking back on this process to open CLINK Wine Bar + Bites to see how far I have come and thinking about how excited I am for the future!

What should our readers know about your business?
Growing up, my mother was a big fan of wine and inspired me to learn more about wine. During a trip to Napa and Sonoma I fell in love with wine and the stories it tells of where it comes from and how it was crafted. A few years after graduation a unique opportunity came my way to work representing Brown-Forman’s iconic spirits and wine brands. I jumped at the opportunity and spent 11 years representing brands like Jack Daniel’s, Korbel and Sonoma-Cutrer Wines.

Along the way my passion for wine increased leading me to take several spirits and wine classes and get certifications from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and the Court of Master Sommeliers. During those years friends and family heard often about my love of wine and dream of opening a wine bar. It was something that would come up pretty regularly for more than 10 years before I decided to take the first step and act on the desire to open a wine bar.

So once I was ready to jump in, I knew I wanted to create this fun, elegant and comfortable wine bar. A place where people can gather with family and friends, enjoy some wine and tapas style food. That idea was the basis on which we built when planning for CLINK Wine Bar + Bites. We created this bright, airy and elegant space with nice finishes, but a comfortable lived in feel. For our wines, we decided to offer 16 on tap. Tap wines allow us to not only do our part to cut down on garbage/packaging but to serve great wines at fantastic prices. Also, wines on tap help to eliminate spoilage since they keep for at least 2 months and the last glass tastes just as good as the first glass poured from the keg. Additionally, I knew I wanted to offer a range of other wines poured by the glass and some bottle only selections. Conceptually, the selections should be fun and interesting for all ranges of wine drinkers; we should have a little of something for everyone and the list should evolve regularly so it is fun and interesting each time you visit. Also, really important to me was to highlight some wines each month from interesting producers, unknown grape varieties, or highlight wines/winemakers that are female and minority owned. As a female in a very male dominated business helping others is a huge part of what I want to do. Good wine is good wine and we start there always. The bonus is when it is a good wine made by a female/minority and I get the chance to showcase it!

For our food, I knew it could not be an afterthought. I wanted to carefully create a menu that not only complimented our wines, but was how I typically like to eat: smaller portions, so I can get a few different items when I am dining out. To me, tapas style is such a great way to eat. You get smaller portions, but can try a few items at a time. I also enjoy eating lots of unique flavors and ingredients so the chef and I worked on our opening menu for months to get it right! Just like our wines, the menu will be evolving and allow us to change it up so each time you come it is interesting and different. The chef is also running some features to allow us to showcase some great in-season ingredients and items from local farmers.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My family and I love to visit Klyde Warren Park in Dallas. It is such a cool park and something I feel like you should see when you visit Dallas. Visit Deep Ellum and check out the interesting shops and restaurants.

We also love all of the local Farmer’s markets from the one in Dallas, to the markets in Coppell, Flower Mound and Highland Village. Visit those on the weekend and then check out brunch at The Rustic.

In Flower Mound specifically where we are located, I love Sunset Pointe. This is a short paved trail you can walk/bike that takes you to a large deck overlooking Lake Grapevine. Sunsets and sunrises are gorgeous here! After you visit, walk over to the Lakeside shops and check out the clothing store, family grocery, florist, coffee shop and restaurants. CLINK Wine Bar + Bites is in the Lakeside area too!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to dedicate my shoutout to my amazing husband, Greg Black. He never once doubted I could do this! His support has be constant and unwavering from day 1. Without his love, encouragement and gentle nudging to keep moving, I don’t think I would be the owner of CLINK Wine Bar + Bites.

Website: www.clinkwinebarandbites.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/clinkwinebar/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/clinkwinebarandbites

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