The co-founder of Huddersfield’s only dedicated natural wine shop & bar talks to us about her roots in hospitality, her passion for art, natural wine and food and her quest to create communal drinking and dining experiences.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you are from and what you do?
My name is Ola Dabrowska and I came to the UK nine years ago from Poland. I am a mum to an eight year old son, a partner, an artist and Kwas owner. In the past, I used to do various things from cleaning to international airport service and hospitality. I’ve always strived to have my own business and thanks to my partner, who is a great person to work with, we were able to create Kwas.
As Huddersfield’s only dedicated wine shop & bar what made you want to start the venture?
As Huddersfield’s only dedicated natural wine shop & bar (just a shop at the moment), we had a few inspirations to create our venue. One of these things was a passion for wine, to be honest we just like to drink it.
Struggling to find a vegan wine was a big reason too, we also aim to have a natural and chemical free products, which is very important for us. We like simple things, in this case less is more and we try to apply this across many aspects of our lives and business. Our shop is for people who value good, natural food, who admire craft and want to drink better.
What makes Kwas Wine Bar special?
People make Kwas special. Our customers. Lots of them share our passion and we have become good friends now. I feel we’ve created a little community and we are very proud of it, I think Kwas is special because we care, that’s what makes other places special too.
Can you tell us about the wine selection and how you have curated this?
Our wine selection is based on our taste and suggestions from our customers and distributors who are very helpful, and the shop holds 75 different wines, 14 crafted ciders and selection of beers from Magic Rock Brewing down the road. We work with six or seven distributors who work directly with makers around the world.
Our taste is unusual, we like funky wines but this is not everyone’s cup of tea, so we make sure we always have a selection of more classic ones. It’s still exciting when people come in and want to try something out of their comfort zone.
What has the local reception to the bar been so far?
Like I mentioned before, we have lovely customers who return regularly and are always excited when something new arrives at the shop. That local community, including local businesses, have been very supportive and reception has been very good. The more (good) things happening in Huddersfield, the better. We would like Huddersfield to become a destination.
Can you tell us how the pandemic has affected the business and whether you have any immediate plans for the future?
It has affected us in the way that we can’t function as a bar anymore, at least until we legally can, but it does give us time to rethink our idea for the business and look for more opportunities. The sad part of it all is that we must distance from our customers and almost all transactions are made online. We miss people popping in for a glass or bottle of wine and chatting. That is very important.
Things might not be the same, but we will adapt. The new idea is to become a ‘one-stop shop’ with a range of good quality products from organic veg boxes, sourdough bread and natural wine of course!
What are some of the events planned for later in this year that we can all look forward to?
We would love to keep doing events in the future but at the moment I can’t tell how that’s going to work and what it will be. One of our ideas, cancelled by the current situation, was a little wine festival. We will keep working on that and hopefully it can happen soon.
What do you love about living up north?
I like hills, I grew up in a small town in Poland surrounded by mountains and a lot of nature and the North of England reminds me of my family home and the people are really nice here. I like that we can get on the train and in a few minutes be in the countryside for a nice walk as well as just popping into Leeds or Manchester for a day out.
What are you currently watching, listening to or reading right now?
I watch and read a lot at the moment haha… I’m reading The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka, I can imagine that all natural wine lovers have this book. It’s about the alternative food movement, future of food and agriculture; basically about how less or no interference in farming can save our agriculture. I really enjoy the Polish author, psychologist and therapist Katarzyna Miller, who talks about how to care about people and ourselves which I love to learn about.
I think we completed Netflix! Of course, Tiger King was one of the things we had to watch. I also enjoy documentaries in general, so I watch a lot including reality series like Gemma Collins Diva on Lockdown!
Interview: Jenna Campbell
Feature Image: Andrew Benge