By Craig Smith
Colleen Fleming and Aubrey Bailey, co-owners of Cadet Beer and Wine Bar, are very happy with how well their business has been received in the year and a half they’ve been open. Theirs was a concept that didn’t exist, and people love it.
“We envisioned a place to drink funky wine and beer past 9 p.m. in a fun environment with cool music,” said Fleming, who first conceived of the idea of Cadet. Bailey added, “It also has to be whole heartedly for the community.” Cadet has indeed been embraced by locals, including the wine community. “We get lots of industry people here, from
cellar rats to wine makers,” added Fleming. “There is a lot of sharing, mingling and meeting other people.”
Fleming said she is like many people, in that she wants to be her own boss. She spent years cooking in Napa restaurants such as Roux and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, then worked for her family’s winery, Kelly Fleming Wines, selling their cult estate-Cabernets. Bailey, her roommate at the time, had an equally impressive resume, having cooked in Napa
restaurants including Redd and Julia’s Kitchen. She was a sommelier at The French Laundry, and listened as Fleming fleshed out the idea for Cadet. “When Colleen said she
needed a partner, it was serendipitous, and I thought ‘Why not?” Fleming laughs, “I lured Aubrey away from the best restaurant in the country to open a bar in an alley.”
The name Cadet implies a trainee, beginner, someone excited to learn. “That’s how it should be for our guests and for us,” said Fleming. The two women initially thought they’d be a California wine bar, but tweaked the concept based on customer feedback. “Originally, we offered mostly California beers and wines,” said Bailey, “but a lot of guests wanted an international selection. It’s probably fifty-fifty now.” Bailey said that helps industry folks. “If somebody is working on a new Syrah project, they can come here to drink wines from Rhone.” Beer has been a bigger hit than they expected. “It’s crazy,” said Fleming. “People like to experiment and try something new. We constantly change the menu so that it’s never stale.” Cadet always has six beers on tap and fifty different bottled beers, as well as sixteen wines by the glass. The wine and beer list is developed with the help of the customers and what they want to discover. “We’re lucky; they have good taste,” said Bailey, with a grin.
Wednesday nights feature a wine or beer maker as guest bartender. Hardly stuffy or pedantic affairs, the evenings are fun and casual. “We let them be bartenders for a night and pour and talk,” said Fleming. “Some even bring their own music.” Matthiasson Wines was recently featured. “They got to talk to a new generation of wine drinkers in a casual, fun atmosphere,” said Bailey.
The bar bites are a big part of Cadet. “We buy salumi from Oenotri and slice it here,” said Fleming. “We also have a proscuitto plate and grilled cheese, all served as bar bites.” The outdoor patio with its marketplace lights, tucked away as Cadet is in an alleyway, offers a cozy, neighborhood feel.
Cadet is open Monday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to Midnight, Fridays and Saturdays until 1:30 a.m. Stop in and enjoy a completely unpretentious evening.
930 Franklin Street, Napa | (707) 927-3623 | cadetbeerandwinebar.com
Open Monday – Thursday 5PM – Midnight | Friday & Saturday 5PM – 1:30AM