Wine on Washington: Local wine bar attracts Truman students with mature, laid back atmosphere

With simple and classy decor, lots of seating and occasional live musicians, Wine on Washington presents a cozy and warm atmosphere to drink coffee with friends in the morning and afternoon or wine in the evening.  

The wine bar now features a coffee shop that is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, where they serve lattes, boba tea and pastries.

Owner Donna Brown is a certified event planner by trade. She and her husband started a wedding planning business 15 years ago with the intention of eventually incorporating a wine bar into their business. A year and a half ago, they decided to make the intention a reality. 

The space, located on 107 W. Washington Street on Kirksville’s Square, started as an event center available to be rented for receptions, bridal showers or other events. The wine bar opened New Year’s Eve 2019. Brown said the wine bar had great reception and support from the community and was busy every weekend until COVID-19 caused it to close for five weeks. 

Wine on Washington is located at 107 W. Washington Street on Kirksville’s Square. They offer a coffee bar in addition to serving wine. Photo by Genevieve Tlustos

“Five weeks we had to struggle and figure out what we’re going to do to keep our bills paid here,” Brown said. “We had to get creative, so we sold a homemade wine cocktail to go in mason jars. The sangria mix that we made we sold every week … and that kept our bills paid.” 

Brown said it took a while for customers to feel safe coming in after those five weeks, and she wasn’t sure business would pick back up. However, people started coming more often, and wine specials were resumed at the wine bar. Live musicians also started to fill the air with lively beats again. play again. 

Brown, a Kirksville local, said for the 23 years she’s lived in the area the location was a coffee shop of some sort until she bought it. Local community members kept asking if the restaurant served coffee or if it would ever be a possibility. Brown said serving coffee in addition to wine was part of the plan all along but COVID-19 did not allow her to make that plan possible until recently.  

Gabrielle Reed, a Wine on Washington regular, said the coffee bar was able to fill the void the last coffee shop left in Kirksville when it closed down. The location is a nice escape from Kirksville sometimes, Reed said. 

The coffee bar became available Dec. 8, 2020. Brown said the decision to expand to include coffee during December was because of slower business since students were on break, so there was more time to train staff. 

“So we just kind of jumped into it and learned about how to run a coffee shop during the month of December,” Brown said. “Then, students started slowly coming back in, Truman State University and medical students, and so that’s been our base. Our customer base has been the student population.”

Crystal Eschbach, A.T. Still University student and Wine on Washington regular, said she enjoys coming to the coffee bar and studying in addition to coming in the evenings. She said she appreciates how the coffee is not as expensive as some mainstream coffee shops. 

While students have been the main demographic for the coffee shop, customers are typically older students or other local community members during the evenings. 

Brown said she thinks Wine on Washington would be a great place for Truman students over 21 years old to come drink wine, hang out and listen to live music.

She also appreciates younger students coming in during the coffee hours, but it’s important that they buy something and support the business. 

It’s been an issue that students will either bring their own food or buy nothing while studying at the location for many hours at a time, Brown said. While she said she knows Wine on Washington is a great place to study, it’s important that the business makes money, otherwise it might not survive. 

Eschbach said she went to the wine bar with friends about once a week last semester. She said she likes Wine on Washington because there is more space, and it is quieter than other bars in town. 

“I like it too because it’s good for a one-on-one date night or a friend group playing games,” Eschbach said. “It’s very versatile.”  

Eschbach said she likes to go with friends on live music nights as there is a variety of musicians. She said they’ve had fun every night they’ve gone, regardless of the music. 

There are also a variety of events. Upcoming events include “Wags and Wine Night”, where customers can bring their dogs, and a mediumship demonstration. 

“It’s way better because it’s chill compared to other places in town, so if you want a quiet evening, this is the place to go,” Tyler Eschbach, A.T. Still student and Wine on Washington regular, said. 

On average, Crystal Eschbach and her friends stay about three hours and have almost always been able to find enough seating. 

Brown hopes that once it is safer for more people to congregate and go places, more of the community will come to the wine bar, and it will be full of people. While the wine bar has had plenty of business, she wants it to grow and be more successful by raising awareness. 

“We just want people to know we’re here,” Brown said. “I think once students are on campus, they don’t go off the campus very much, so people may just not know we are here.”