“Everyone likes wine but we wanted to do something a bit different – to create a sanctuary, a hideaway and escape, somewhere you can disappear into,” Paul Southouse tells me, while sitting chatting in his uber cool new wine and charcuterie bar Popina in Jericho.
Anyone who has been to its sister cocktail bar Spirit by Lynrace over the road on Walton Street READ ABOUT IT HERE will know to expect a cool vibe, great aesthetics and a relaxed atmosphere when Popina opens on Thursday.
“WE WANT TO CHALLENGE PEOPLE TO TRY SOMETHING NEW”
Popina is the name for Roman wine bars, where you could pop by have a quick glass of vino, some bread, cheese and meats and then be on your way. Combining that with Jericho’s roots, when it housed workers for Oxford University Press and was famous for its red light district, in terms of the vibe and design, Popina is an eclectic mix.
“We want to challenge people to try something new, so Popina has a contemporary but rustic and honest feel to it,” Paul explains, “it’s all about the details.”
From the wine list to the art, staff and lighting, nothing has been left to chance, the team there is an impressive mix of sommeliers and wine experts.
Serving 10 reds, 10 whites, sparkling wines and rose by the glass, as well as numerous well selected bottles to choose from, the team are happy to chat about grapes, vines and tannins until the cows come home.
Throw in a selection of Italian meats and cheeses, sliced in front of you and brought to your table, and the scene is set.
So Paul, a local architect, is looking forward to welcoming a keen clientele ready to escape from the outside world and try something rather different.
“Everyone is really excited about Popina, and people stop and chat to me when I’m painting away outside and tell me they can’t wait to pop in, so it’s is already getting a lot of attention,” he tells me.
Bearing in mind Paul only got the keys to the property two weeks ago, the transformation is stunning; exposed brickwork, dark red walls and atmospheric art gracing the walls, the bar framing the scene as you walk in.
“I love Jericho. It is always transforming and reinventing itself and there is a real energy about it at the moment. We wanted to be part of that”
To make sure he got it right, Paul visited lots of local wine bars, as well as travelling around London, to ensure he was bringing something new to Oxford’s table.
So how did Popina come about? “Jericho Grill was closing and we saw an opportunity there for Popina. It’s just over the road from Spirit by Lynrace and we began thinking about what we could do with the space.
“There are lots of great pubs around here so we didn’t want to compete with them but instead create a grown up space, somewhere to go when the cafes shut.”
But it was always going to be in Jericho, where Paul lives and works. “I love Jericho. It is always transforming and reinventing itself and there is a real energy about it at the moment. We wanted to be part of that and to add to it,” Paul adds.
“And there is already such a big buzz around Popina that we can’t wait to open.”
Popina on Walton Street in Jericho will be open on Wednesday to Thursday from 5pm-11pm, and Friday and Saturday until midnight.