On June 24, 1981, a 20 year old Patty Glynn took a People's Express flight from LAX to JFK. She spent $25 of the $50 in her pocket on a cab to her best friend's sublet on the upper west side, bought a six-pack of beer and a pack of cigarettes and 4 days later had a job at the College Inn restaurant. Many other restaurant jobs, cigarettes and beers followed. One day she ran out of genuine smiles, developed the dreaded "bad attitude" that afflicts many veteran servers and had to leave the restaurant business. A couple of years of PR for AmFAR was followed by a Master's in education and 5 years teaching in the public schools of Brooklyn. A screenplay written during a summer break got optioned which prompted an end to teaching before she ended up on the cover of the Post.
In November of 1999 Patty sent her husband Bob Lenartz out to get some cooking wine at the plexiglass enclosed "bullet proof" liquor store around the corner from their newly purchased home. He returned with a bottle and an idea that the store was going under and they should try to buy it. Sitting at their kitchen table they mulled over the experience they would need to undertake such a project and decided to forge ahead. They had 20 years combined in the restaurant industry. Bob had run the supply store on his Navy ship. They had long fantasized about doing something in the neighborhood. They liked alcohol. It was the right idea at the right time.
The store opened on March 27th, 2000. This was back in the day when liquor stores couldn't be open on Sunday for which they were grateful- a mandatory day off. Patty ran the store (sans paycheck) with a handful of employees while Bob continued to work his day job as a proxy solicitor and his new night job as a booze purveyor. The wine selections came from people that seemed passionate and trustworthy, trumping the old school hard sell liquor guys who aggressively beat down the door. There was a natural tendency to eschew the big, national brands in favor of smaller, more mom and pop wineries. Things slowly evolved, employees learned more. Laws changed and stores could be open 7 days a week. The sweat equity paid off and the extra day of income was the tipping point that allowed Bob to leave Wall Street and work full time at Slope Cellars. When Ben came on board in 2004 he began to be included in the wine buying process, eventually becoming a buyer, then a partner. His influence on the selections was profound, the curation was thoughtful, eclectic and something the staff took pride in. In 2009 Chris Hiatt became the curator of the spirit selections expanding further the geekery of the Slopey inventory. With a solid staff in place, Patty had time to devote to extracurricular activities like being on the Celebrate Brooklyn Friends Council and the Park Slope Chamber of Commerce. Donating to the public schools and sponsoring teams has always been part of the Slopey plan. It's a good life.
Ben Hagen is a Bay Area native who landed in NYC 2002 after receiving a B.A in Theater in London. He stumbled upon Slope Cellars on a walk in his neighborhood, peeked in and met Patty (♥️) and ended up with a part time job to learn more about wine. Fast forward years later: wine school was attended, bottles upon bottles were opened and that part time job became a full fledged career, first as wine buyer and then as partner at Slope Cellars. As a wine drinker, Ben is what we call an acid fiend—having an unwavering love for wines with tart, mouthwatering acidity—which is why there’s a good chance a De Moor Aligoté or a good old-school Alto Piemonte Nebbiolo are in his glass often. For an after dinner sipper, Ben has a hard time looking past a Cappellano Barolo Chinato. He’s a grateful guy who loves his job.
General Manager, Wine & Spirits Buyer
Alejandra Guanipa hails from Venezuela via the Bay Area, where she graduated from UC Berkeley. She holds a Master’s degree from NYU in Food Studies, where she explored the intersection of food, immigration, and ethnic representation in restaurants. She has twenty years of restaurant experience across every position imaginable in some of the best restaurants in the East and West coasts, including NOPA and Range in San Francisco, and the beloved but now closed Franny’s in Brooklyn. She’s been working almost solely with Italian wine for over a decade, and until recently, served as Wine Director at Roman’s in Fort Greene, where she focused on natural wines from Italy and New York State. When she is not on the clock, Alejandra is likely cooking up a storm in her tiny Brooklyn kitchen, where there are several experimental batches of her own amaro. Lately, she’s been having a love affair with gin and finds a perfect martini exquisite.
A Brooklyn native through and through, Marco is Slopey’s spirited spirits encyclopedia—aka the "tall one, with the hair." When he was in high school, Marco would bring books on the stylistic differences of beer to school—but hey, it wasn't actual beer, so the teachers didn't care. He had a stint in culinary school because of both a lifelong love of cooking and reading too much Anthony Bourdain (RIP) but left because he didn't listen to Bourdain's words that the restaurant world is for a very certain type of person. Sooner than later, Marco came to love cocktails and mixing drinks. Not just the act of drinking them but specifically the history of spirits and cocktails. He is endlessly fascinated by how spirits can demonstrate the ways in which nature is controlled, morphed and concentrated into a potable liquid; chaos is grasped, made into something resembling order. The resulting product, a merriment that holds sway in human cultures worldwide. Marco would dare say it is kinda cool when you think of it that way. Talia Baiocchi's book on sherry spread Marco’s love of "drinking history" to wine. So with this newfound interest and in need of a job, Marco started working in the wine industry. Marco sees this as a way to live history and to share it with others, without having to put on a redcoat and grabbing a musket, for history like all stories is best when shared.
Matt's Journey with wine hasn't always been a linear one, but it started through his dad who loved the finer wines in life, especially old-school Riojas, but also valued simpler, more affordable options—"poundage," he called it. Matt’s life has been very much interdisciplinary: working as an editor at a commercial post production company, at Major League Soccer, and as a production assistant on movie sets. But it was the restaurant world that solidified his love of wine, after working in restaurants like Momofuku, both at Noodle Bar in Toronto and Ko in New York City, and at Misi in Brooklyn. Matt is originally from Boston, and has an unconditional love for David Ortiz and Dunkin' Donuts. He has been in New York for 5 years, and currently lives in Park Slope with his partner Jilly and their spunky kitten, Aubrey.
Graham loves his dads and ham, in that order. He likes coming to work to greet customers and making friends with other Park Slope pups.