We’ve always been fans of Alex Porsche here at Scene. In fact, former contributor/editor Steve Cavendish and I have written about his wine-tasting skills in separate sections at 2018 And the 2020 Where the talented young bartender studied for the main bartender’s exam. Achieved an advanced position in somm in 2019, outperforming an exam with a pass rate of nearly 25%.
Burch’s journey through the world of wine began when he was a rookie butler at Kayne Prime, discovering he was more interested in what was in the cup than he was. Burch has held positions managing wine lists and contributing to beverage programs at Strategic Hospitality Properties stronghold And the Henrietta ReedAnd the The first part of the pandemic was spent conducting online wine-tasting courses and lessons from home.
Now he’s ready to take off on his own with his first restaurant venture, called Bad Idea. With a planned opening in the spring of 2023, Burch has been working on this very idea since leaving Bastion late last year after five years there. “I decided to make a leap of faith,” he explains in a phone interview. “It’s a different path we’re going. We’re really leaning towards something societal.”
That means he hopes his new space—located in the restored precinct of the church at 1021 Russell Street, across from Boombozz Craft Pizza and Taphouse—will be a neighborhood gathering place, and he’s counting on the community to support his fledgling wine restaurant. To this end, he established Crowdsourcing option with what He hopes to raise funds along with capital from major investors who have already pledged hundreds of thousands of dollars to the project.
(Hopefully it goes without saying that you shouldn’t take investment advice from a food writer who thought putting money into Greek bonds in the 2000s was a good idea – you’re on your own if you decide to get involved in this particular “bad idea.”)
Whether you choose to join the funding effort or just support Bad Idea with eating and drinking money, it’s certainly an exciting proposition to imagine Burch at the helm of a lively wine bar.
“We plan it to be more of a wine-focused restaurant/bar with an enjoyable menu,” promises Borsch. “We aim to have accessible price points with a solid wine list. Most of all, we want it to be a comfortable place to hang out. We’ll serve more traditional in the evening, but later in the night, we want it to be a place with Counter service where you can just pull up a chair to hang out with friends..we will have good food, but fun!”
Bad Idea will share a Russell Street building with a mix of retail and office space, with a small car park and more emphasis on ample street parking. In keeping with the neighborhood focus, Burch works with local graphic and interior designers to help shape the restaurant’s ambiance as he works on food and wine concepts. “It’s fun to do something very local,” Burch says.
You know a wine list is the cornerstone of any Burch venture, and he’ll encourage exploration in Bad Idea with three separate lists he describes in this way:
Fly Blind – Home-picked wine tours that encourage guests to explore new flavors and savor some hidden gems in the world of wine
Shortlist – A condensed list that covers a wide range of styles and price points, and includes wines by the glass
The Long List – An extensive bottle list filled with anecdotes that delve deeper into the different regions, producers and ways of making wine
Burch also plans to encourage discovery through frequent wine education classes that he and his staff teach, tastings with food and wine focused on specific world regions, and pop-up dinners featuring guest chefs. There will also be a private dining space at Bad Idea that patrons can rent for special events and dinners.
If you’ve ever taken Burch’s advice when choosing pairings for your meal, you know he’s a thoughtful sommelier with an encyclopedic knowledge of world wines. He has not only improved the wine lists at every restaurant he works in, but he has raised the bar among other restaurants and local alcohol distributors by bringing great new wines to market.
Putting him in charge of his own restaurant definitely seems to be a good idea to me! [But again, invest at your own risk.]