Mary's Vine Will Bring Wine to an Historic Croatian Church

The Stasinowsky family has spent the last year renovating the former Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Rankin.


photo courtesy mary's Vine

 

The towering former Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church, perched above the Rankin Bridge, has sat empty of parishioners since its last Mass in 2011. When the church was built in 1903, Rankin was a Croatian enclave. Now, the Stasinowsky family wants to bring back St. Mary’s as a community gathering space, albeit of a slightly different kind. After a year major renovations, the family plans to open Mary’s Vine, a wine lounge, in April.

Jordan Stasinowsky, 25, was the first in the family to see potential in Pittsburgh’s vacant churches. He pitched the idea of a wine lounge to his parents Cheryl and Wally Stasinowsky, both general contractors living in California at the time, and soon after his sister and brother-in-law, Amber and Daniel Smith, also came aboard. The whole family has since relocated to Pittsburgh and is living together in a nearby Swissvale church rectory they purchased from the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh along with St. Mary’s.

Drawing on the professional expertise of Cheryl and Wally, the family has done many of the renovations themselves, though they’ve hired local stonemasons, restorationists, painters and consultants to fill in the gaps. The choir loft and pipe organ have been preserved and the Stasinowsky family plans to host live jazz every night, with Wednesdays highlighting a larger band or vocal performance. 

The kitchen, located in the basement of the church, has been equipped with dumbwaiters that run up to the main lounge, providing knee-saving effort for the future staff. The Stasinowskys plan to have the main space be comfortable and intimate with wingback chairs, rugs, drapes and places to cozy up to a glass of wine. But what draws the eye is the front of space, where a glassed-in wine cellar takes the place of the pulpit and is flanked by a small bar. A set of spiral stairs leads down into what will be the main cellar. A wooden tree sculpture ornamented by wine bottles hangs above it all.

Jordan, a Certified Specialist of Wine, has designed an extensive program offering 350 brands by the bottle and 50 by the glass.

“We’re trying to do wines you might not normally buy, so you can’t go to Fine Wines and Good Spirits to get them,” says Jordan. “We also want to show people that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get great wine. You just have to know where to look.”

While educating customers, Jordan also will be continuing his own wine education. He’s currently pursuing certification by the Court of Master Sommeliers.

In order to help you know where to look, the Stasinowskys are designing a companion app called “Somm in Your Palm,” exclusive to the restaurant’s wine list, that will track your likes and dislikes and be able to suggest food pairings as well as offer information on the wine you’re drinking. “It will ask you simple questions about your preferences and price point, similar to what I might ask you table side,” says Jordan.

Throughout the project, the Stasinowskys have been encouraged by the participation and interest of the Rankin and Pittsburgh communities. “We appreciate the support the Croatian community has given us,” says Jordan.

211 Kenmawr Ave., Rankin; facebook.com/marysvine

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