Tableside With David Lazarus of Water Tower Fine Wines

Retail may be his legacy—yes, he’s from that Lazarus family—but the owner of Water Tower Fine Wines is stepping up his game and coming out of his family’s shadow by transforming his corner wine shop into a destination wine bar.

Why wine? I’ve been in this business for a little over 20 years, but I’ve been in the retail business my whole life. In third grade, I would catch the lizards that ran around Cincinnati and sell them—until the teachers got tired of them getting loose in school.

You’re making some pretty big changes to your shop. We’ve been in business for six years, so we could either continue to limp along and build business slowly, or we could do something designed to give us a big wow factor.

What are you adding? We’ll have a commercial kitchen, so we’ll sell artisan bread for evening pick up; we’re adding seating for 45 to 50 people; and we’ll have a TV, so we’ll be able to Skype with a winemaker out in California. Once we’re done with this [initial] phase, we’ll put a 900-square-foot deck on top of the new addition.

Are Cincinnatians pretty astute when it comes to wine? There are a lot of intelligent wine buyers in the city. I think part of it is because it is a foodie city, and the more you appreciate food, the more you’re going to appreciate wine.

Water Tower Fine Wines, 6136 Campus Ln., Mt. Washington, (513) 231-9463,

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