Escondido wine bar aims to reopen after liquor license suspension


If all goes according to plan, Vinz Wine Bar in Escondido will reopen by Friday, just in time to host its weekly beer garden for the city’s Cruisin’ Grand downtown car show.

Vinnie Griffin, who owns Vinz with his wife, Michelle, said he was forced to close the popular 10-year-old bar and bistro last week after its liquor license was suspended by the state. The suspension also affects the couple’s other business, nearby Continental Delicatessen. It remains open for food and soft drink sales but can’t sell beer or wine.

Griffin said the problem relates to the payment of state tax liabilities. He said the payment was made in time but to the wrong department and during the delay that occurred in transferring the money, his liquor license was pulled.

Now he needs to come up with $7,500 to lift the suspension. To help cover that expense he’s launched a Gofundme campaign (, search “Vinz Opening”).

The page has a fundraising goal of $25,000, of which only $560 has been pledged so far. Griffin said he set the high target to help cover the operating costs of both businesses and to cover the payroll for Vinz’ 23 out-of-work employees.

“Everything is not perfect. We all go through our trials and tribulations in the restaurant business. We’re just trying to make sure we can continue to do what we’ve always done,” he said. “The problem is they took all of our funds we use to keep the restaurant going to pay our tax liability that we had already filed.”

Griffin and a former partner opened Vinz Wine Bar in February 2008 at the corner of Grand Avenue and Kalmia Street. Five years ago, Vinz amended its liquor license to also sell craft cocktails.

The restaurant became known for its dog-friendly patio, live music on weekend nights and the Cruisin’ Grand beer garden that it hosts on the patio that connects it with Continental Deli. Opened by previous owners in 1967, the deli is known for its sandwiches, salads and New York-style pizza.

Griffin said it’s been a stressful couple of weeks trying to get the doors reopened at Vinz but the community has been supportive.

“The city has rallied around us and our customers are rooting for us,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be back in business by Friday or, if not, sometime early next week.”