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Cabarrus Magazine

Owner of Vortex Bottle Shop Hopes to Bring the Community Together Through Brews & Bites

Oct 05, 2018 05:30PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Owner Matt Widerman.

Harrisburg's Vortex Bottle Shop opened in May 2018, and has been serving up the latest (and tastiest) wine and beer trends ever since. In fact, we recently included them in our article, 3 New Restaurants to Check Out in Cabarrus County.

However, we were left wanting to know more, so we reached out to local store owner Matt Widerman. 

Vortex boasts over has 18 tap lines, over 250 packaged beer and cider selections and over 100 wines by the bottle, celebrating local places while also appreciating national and international sources. 

"I have always enjoyed educating people about beer and wine," Widerman told us. As a home brewer for 10+ years, Widerman had the opportunity to teach a lot of people about the brewing process, as well as the products required to do so, thus helping people become more excited to try drinks that would normally wouldn't. 

When Widerman decided to make his brewing hobby into a career, leaving his job in finance, Harrisburg was the obvious choice for him. "I live off Rocky River Road, I do most of my grocery shopping in Harrisburg but I spent little time hanging out there," he noted. "As such, I recognized an opportunity and from there, the choice was easy. Why not create a place that I would love to work in as much as I would enjoy to hang out in right in my own back yard?"

According to Widerman, Vortex is a lot of fun. As the owner, he does a little bit of everything. "I love to work the bar as well as wait tables because it gives me the opportunity to educate people and help them explore our selection of beer, wine and food," he told us. He also finds he really enjoys ordering and learning the new beers from the local breweries, as well as getting on board with current trends. 

Vortex also serves up some tasty dishes, all designed to pair well with the beverages being offered. The head chef is incredibly talented and Widerman has found working with him to be a great experience. It's the chef's creations that comes first, and then the pairing follows. This process has been something Widerman's learned to enjoy, as it's a challenge to find the perfect pairing. Though, sometimes it's the other way around and the chef finds the perfect food to pair with one of their beverages. 

Since its opening in May, Harrisburg has been incredibly responsive to the concept of Vortex.  "As a new owner, I ask as many patrons as possible to give me feedback," Widerman said. "Whether it be positive or constructive, and Harrisburg has not been afraid to let it all be known!" 

The first three months created a slight learning curve, the "hybrid self/full service concept" having taken some getting used to, but it's become a new normal for guests. Once people settled in, regulars help newbies just as much as the staff does, something that Widerman is proud of. 

Vortex tries to operate in it’s own space. Everything from the food to the service to the beer and wine selection is completely unique, but it all makes sense when together. "We try to keep the wine selection to wines that you rarely find in grocery or other local venues," Widerman explained. "We attempt to ensure that the entire gamut of beer is in stock at all times and we strive to make our food unlike that of anyone else. For that, we do not want to be compared to any other shops around." 

Vortex offers an experience that will not be found elsewhere. However, despite its uniqueness, the ultimate goal is to be approachable. All wines are labeled with house-derived descriptions, the canape offerings are the chef's way of making charcuterie easy and palatable, the charcuterie is sold to pair with the drink selections. Beer, wine, and food are not complicated, which is the message that Vortex hopes to express its guests. Educational and fun is what you will find. 

When stepping into Vortex customers will notice some large ‘community tables’ where multiple parties are encouraged to sit together. When this happens people inevitably, bond over their choices of beer, wine and food. "I love watching this happen, as people that did not know each other when they came in leave with a new friend or have the opportunity to try something on the advise of another," Widerman said. "It creates a really fun community and we often see those people meeting back up at Vortex to share the experience over and over. This is part of what makes Harrisburg great – the sense of community and belonging and Vortex loves being a part of this!"

To keep things constantly fresh and new, Widerman makes sure to always be learning new styles, flavors and pairings. This is one of those things that never gets old for him, and a big part of why Vortex opened. Though he likes most styles of beer and wine, it depends on Widerman's mood when it comes to choosing his favorite. His current brews of choice are New England-style IPAs, and well as any and all Carolina brewing NEIPAs.

Because choosing a favorite isn't in the cards, customers are encouraged to visit the Vortex taproom where you will find the flavor of the day. When it comes to wine, red blends  are the bottle shop owner's favorite, especially the Aduentus Mediterráneo from Antigal.  

Vortex offers an array of events now, with plans for more to come. Right now, Vortex has Educator’s Appreciation Events on Fridays, with 2 for 1 small plates for all educators. With each pint purchased, $1 is donated to the Cabarrus County Education Foundation.

"Giving back is integral in being part of the community and Vortex takes that very seriously," said Widerman. "We have more events planned we will continue with that charitable spirit so please follow our social media for updates on those upcoming dates!" 

Visit Vortex Bottle Shop at 4469 School House Commons Harrisburg, NC to see what all this fun is about! 

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