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Westport Toasts Opening of Downtown Wine Bar

WESTPORT, Conn. – Portugal, France, Spain, New Zealand and Argentina — these are some of the countries represented by the bottles at LUXE Modern Wine & Cocktails, the newest addition to the downtown Westport scene.

The chic wine bar, located at 190 Main St., officially opened Saturday. And despite the snowy weather, owner Robert Reilly said the business received a warm welcome from the community.

"Every seat was filled, nonstop, until about 11 p.m.," said Reilly, a Redding resident and Norwalk native. "We got a lot of positive feedback, too. People were saying this is just what Westport needs and that there aren't a lot of places to hang out late."

LUXE carries about 45 different red, white and sparkling wines from the United States and around the world that aren't normally found in this region, Reilly said. Though he said the selection is "slightly California heavy," enthusiasts will find the world's major wine countries are well represented, including Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and Australia — just to name a few.

Visitors won't find only wine on the menu. The bar also offers a variety of "old-school" and signature cocktails, such as Reilly's own Saugatuck Smash, which consists of Willett Bourbon, fresh lemon juice, ginger syrup, framboise and muddled cilantro.

For those looking for a light bite to eat with their wine or cocktail, LUXE also offers imported and domestic cheeses and cured meats, served with bread. Reilly said he plans to offer salads in the future and maybe even panini sandwiches.

Reilly, who owns the bar with his wife, said the inspiration for LUXE came a few years ago when he worked in New York City.

"There was a version of this that I used to hang out at all the time. I loved the idea and said to myself that I'd really like to do something similar at some point," he said. "And the time was right."

Originally, Reilly said he was looking to open the bar in Redding but ran into a few complications with the building and the town's Planning and Zoning Department.

When Reilly came across the storefront at 190 Main St., he said the decision to open in Westport became easy. Not only did the Westport Planning and Zoning Department welcome the idea, he said recent changes to the town's zoning regulations—such as abolishing the 1,500-foot rule that prohibited patron bars being within 1,500 feet of each other—helped seal the deal for him.

Another reason Reilly settled on Westport, he said, was the fact that the town embraces outdoor dining. In the summer, he hopes to have an outdoor patio.

Based on the grand opening, Reilly said he's optimistic about LUXE's future. "All I want is for this to become a place where people hang out and have great wine and food to go with it," he said. "And I think it will be."

LUXE is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Sundays from 4 to 11 p.m. The bar doesn't take reservations, and there's no dress code, Reilly said.

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