CLIENT: happinez wine bar

The collaboration involved not only the interior design, but also the branding of the wine bar.  Logo, tagline, website, business cards, marketing collateral was all done by PUNCH.


Winner:   (happinez) Best Wine Bar (to have a quiet drink) in Atlantic Canada Progress Magazine Reader’s survey

Winner:   (happinez) Best Bar in N.B. – here Newspaper Reader’s “best of” survey

Winner:   (happinez) Best Wine List in N.B. – here Newspaper Reader’s “best of” survey

Winner:   (happinez) Excellence in Heritage Conservation: lower level /Brodie Building

Winner:   (Smitkin Inc.) Heritage Award – Excellence in Renovation/ New Construction


happinez wine bar was a collaborative project between Punch and Peter Smit.  The four-storey historic building on Princess Street in downtown Saint John was purchased, jointly, for the sole purpose of making use of the hitherto-undeveloped basement of the building.  Sounds crazy, I know, but 100% true.  The lower level of the building had originally been used for previous restaurant storage areas and was nothing short of downright ugly.  One wall in the basement had stunning original stone walls visible and, based primarily on that wall, we believed an aggressive renovation could transform the space into what it ultimately became:  an award-winning wine bar.


The renovation involved tearing walls down, removing the existing drywall and structure to expose the stone and brick walls.  We also exposed the original 14″ thick wood beams and moved the sprinkler system above the newly-built ceiling.  We brought in Ludwig, our mason, to do extensive mortar restoration, along with sundry other craftsmen (including Al and Curtis Fanjoy) to build the custom designed wine bar.


New floors included spruce and mexican tiles (some of the tiles had actual chicken feet footprints in them!)



(all photography below, Hemmings House Pictures)















This was the first ‘clean’ version of the ‘upper bowl’ of the wine bar.  Interior design considerations involved ensuring that each precious inch of space was used in a functional and yet, esthetically pleasing way.  The design included communal benches around the outside edges of the bar and movable stools arranged around the custom-built tables. What came later, but is missing from the picture, are three small tables with corks arranged under the glass, which serve as small wine tables.  The upper shelves are now used for wine storage.  The painting on the right was purchased in SoHo after I met “Nozco”, Espartaco Albornoz on the streets of New York.  The clock is from a clock shoppe in Old Montreal, a visual complement to the painting and the bar in general.












Behind the model (to the right) is a glass entrance chosen for two reasons: first to ensure that in winter the cold air didn’t blast directly into the bar, and two, glass ensured that the space remained open and inviting, not only from inside the bar, but also for patrons peeking in the front door.  The glass allows the latter to see directly into the bar’s warm and inviting environs.  Also visible is artwork by Chris Lloyd, who, incidentally, also worked behind happinez’s bar for several years.















A central feature of the wine bar is the Stainless Steel feature bar.  The stone walls and historic building needed a very strong modern element to offset the bar’s strong historical features.  Stainless steel and the large slab of mahogany work nicely from both a visual and practical standpoint.  The stools were custom built as an extension of the fabricated communal seating installed in the back of the bar.














Delish – a simple yet effective sign highlighting the wine of the month made from a scrap of leftover rubble from the demolition.












Patrons enjoy the bar on one of its first ‘dry run’ openings.















As you can see from the above picture, a well thought out pricing system had to be put in place because the wines change so often.  The stainless steel clamps on a simple rod allow the staff to change the signage at anytime without extra cost(s).














A creative feature of the wine bar involved turning a derelict old vault into a usable and charming wine cellar.  With simple wood elements and small frames from the dollar store for signage, a classy wine cellar is born!
















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