Sandip Talati’s motto is “Enter as a stranger, leave as a friend.”
That sentiment served him well in Pittsburgh, where he owns a gas station. Now, he’s bringing that same sense of community to his newest venture, Keyport Liquor and Wine.
The store, located at 54-58 Broad Street, opened its doors in November after a total renovation that took about nine months to complete.
Talati chose Keyport, he said, partly because his parents live nearby in Edison. But the big draw, he said, was its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.
“I love it,” he said.
Yet, he confessed that he was also afraid of leaving the slow pace of the Pittsburgh suburbs. He thought New Jersey would be fast, too fast for his sensibilities. He even thinks the traffic lights switch colors a bit too fast.
“But this is a good sized town,” he said.
Talati is in the process of moving his family to the area, though he is not quite sure where, exactly, they will land.
“Let’s see where my wife decides. That part is not my jurisdiction,” Talati said with a laugh.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held this Thursday at 5 p.m. Ahead of the celebration, the Keyport Anchor spoke to Talati about why he likes owning a business in Keyport and his plans for the future. Below is a lightly edited version of that conversation:
How long have you been in Keyport?
We started on November fifth.
So what do you like about Keyport so far?
The people. Very nice community. Welcoming.
Tell me a little bit about your store.
We are basically a small, convenient liquor store. What makes us different is we try to provide what customers ask for.
(Referring to a small counter with bar stools located off the main store): This is going to be a bar down the road. Right now, we are in the process of putting our feet on the floor first. It’s the first week where we have a little bit peace, that ok, we’re settled down. Until now, inventory was coming, we were trying to put in the system and everything, so it took us a long time to settle down. And this is my first liquor store. I never had before.
Really? So why did you decide to open a liquor store?
Convenience stores, there were too many. And in New Jersey – I have a gas station in Pittsburgh, so over here, to do a gas station, you need a lot of manpower. On top of that, hours. Best thing was hours … I can enjoy my family life, also, at least say goodbye to my kids before they go to school. That’s the biggest thing, you know.
How old are your kids?
Six and four — two years apart.
So what’s been the top-selling product, or what people have been asking for?
Right now, beer. And we do very good with wine. Exceptionally well. I’m not a regular consumer of alcohol. Maybe occasionally. But within last 21 days, I learned a lot (about) what is wine. That proves that we did pretty good with wine.
Do you think you’re helped by having Bring Your Own restaurants nearby?
Yes. It is really helpful, especially Drew’s place (Drew’s Bayshore Bistro) and Nemo, Mr. Nemo (Nemo Asian Fusion and Sushi Bar). They’ve both sent tremendous amount of customers our way, to help us out.
So your plans going forward, you’re hoping to have a little bar here?
Yes. On Aug. 10, we’ll have a grand opening (for the bar). That day we will have wine tastings and stuff like that, so that will be perfect.