BRUNSWICK — For the past year and a half, Nikaline Iacono has been sourcing vintage glassware from yard sales, auctions, and almost anywhere else she can find it. She then re-sells her finds – which range from 1930s cordial glasses to 1980s sailboat mugs – online.

Now she is using her collection in a new venture: opening a restaurant, bar and glassware gallery.

Vessel and Vine, at 4 Pleasant St. in Brunswick, is a wine and cocktail bar, locally sourced eatery, classroom space and glassware and barware retailer.

Iacono opened the beer and wine shop this week, while the restaurant and bar are scheduled to open by March 1.

Iacono has worked in Brunswick restaurants for the past six years, most recently managing the wine bar at Greek and Italian restaurant Enoteca Athena. In addition to bartending there, she also sourced glassware to be used at the establishment. Before that, she accumulated more wine knowledge working for a Maine wine distributor.

Nikaline Iacono stands near a section of the mural painted by her friend Yennika Ekstrand on the back wall of Vessel and Vine. Photo by Elizabeth Clemente

Iacono said opening her own restaurant has been her dream for a while, but she didn’t expect it to come to fruition so soon.

“Kind of a perfect storm of a couple of different things happened that caused me to really take stock of where I was and what I wanted to do with my life,” she said.

Last August, she began developing a business plan with Coastal Enterprises. In November, a friend who owns the Pleasant Street building allowed her to begin setting up in the space without a lease.

“I just kind of made that leap of faith that I was going to secure financing, and if I didn’t I would just be out my time and a couple thousand dollars,” she said. “And then financing came through at the end of December.”

In creating the eclectic interior of Vessel and Vine, Iacono put her thrift skills to work. In one corner, a brass mattress frame hangs from the ceiling. Iacono found the bed by the side of the road and dismantled it to create the piece.

Will Sullivan, who will run the retail business at Vessel and Vine, sweeps the floor in preparation for opening. Sullivan, Iacono and chef Matt DeFio will be the establishment’s only staff. Photo by Elizabeth Clemente

All the restaurant’s tables, purchased for a grand total of $120, came from a Chinese restaurant in Lewiston, and that’s also where she found the three chandeliers that hang over the bar.

A large wooden rose gracing the back of the room came from her father’s former restaurant in Provincetown, and the paneling on the walls came from her barn.

“This place has come together on a serious shoestring, but I think it looks really good,” Iacono said. “I look around and I’m like ‘yup, I know where everything came from in here.’ ”

Iacono has had some help from friends. Yennika Ekstrand, an artist, painted a large mural on the restaurant’s back wall depicting fish, bouquets of carrots, clams and other objects.

Though happy with the current look, Iacono wants the interior of Vessel and Vine to be ever-changing.

“Frankly the entire aesthetic of this place is going to be very fluid,” she said. “Literally, the couches will be for sale, (and) the chairs will be for sale, as if it’s a gallery essentially. I’ll have a price list on the wall.”

All of the glassware that the drinks will be served in will be for sale, too.

Iacono has been selling vintage glassware on her Etsy page for more than a year. Now she ll sell pieces at Vessel and Vine, including those that the drinks are served in. Photo by Elizabeth Clemente

Iacono will be the sole bartender, and Will Sullivan will run the retail end of the business.

Another of Iacono’s friends, Brunswick native Matt DeFio, will be the head chef of the restaurant. DeFio, who recently started a fresh pasta company, will eventually prepare his product at Vessel and Vine, Iacono said.

For now, the prototype menu features items like parsnip and apple soup with goat cheese and arugula, and fish dishes such as cured salmon on pumpernickel with red onion and kewpie, a Japanese mayonnaise.

Before the bar can open, however, Iacono must be approved for a license at the Feb. 20 Town Council meeting.

Iacona wants classes to be “a huge part of this place,” and says they’ll include sessions on how to make pasta and other dishes, led by DeFio, and wine appreciation and cocktail making, taught by Iacona.

“I want it to be a place where people can learn,” Iacona said, “whether it’s on the retail side, or coming in and feeling comfortable asking questions of Will, or of me, or of Matt, so that we’re all accessible and can kind of help people go outside their comfort zone without even realizing they’re doing it.”

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or [email protected] Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente.

Read this story in The Forecaster.

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