Fishtown Social owner expands to Jersey Shore


A few years ago, Vanessa Wong opened up her natural wine shop and bar, Fishtown Social, in the bustling area of the city (Fishtown, if you haven’t guessed.) Since then, the venue has seen as much success as the area it calls home, and that ignited Wong’s need to expand—all the way to the Jersey Shore. 

On July 1, Wahine Wine Company and Fish & Whistle Market will both open their doors side by side in the sea-side town of Ventnor City, New Jersey. 

The two new businesses will be located next door to each other in a newly constructed building at 101 N. Dorset Avenue, according to a release. Wahine Wine Company will follow a similar suit to Fishtown Social, with the shelves stocked with natural wines, while also offering craft spirits and beers thanks to New Jersey’s liquor laws. 

Fishtown SocialMike Prince

Fish & Whistle Market on the other hand will serve as a gourmet market, and a way for those down the shore to have a local taste of the City of Brotherly Love with regional and Philly-made brands being offered including cheese, charcuterie, freshly prepared foods, produce and groceries. The market will also partner with a number of local and Philadelphia-based small businesses to host pop-ups and tasting events throughout the year.

“Anybody who knows me knows that I love the beach. The ocean is and has always been my happy place, my respite,” said Wong in a statement. “It’s also no secret that operating under the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board makes it incredibly difficult to accomplish what I originally set out to do in Fishtown, which is to make good wine approachable and accessible for everyone. Thus, a location at the Jersey Shore where there is no state-run retail liquor system is a total no-brainer. There is so much more wine available at a significantly lower cost. I just need to find time to taste it all.”

And Wong knows what she’s talking about. As a natural wine expert, the business owner wants customers to feel good about the vino that they purchase. Her new shop will offer bottles, cans, boxes, and bags of natural, organic, and biodynamic wines that you won’t find anywhere else (besides Fishtown Social, of course). The wines are chosen with care, which typically means minimal intervention and no additives. 

Those in Ventnor can head to both the Wine Company and Market, which will be open 6 days a week (closed on Tuesdays), from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

As to why she decided to name her store Wahine (‘waa-hee-nee’) Wine Company, Wong said the inspiration came from her two daughters, ages 7 and 9.

“Wahine is often used as a term for a female surfer,” continued Wong in a statement. “I have two little wahines of my own who love the ocean and have fearlessly taken to surfing. They’re brave, spunky, and beautiful inside and out, and as their mom, I hope to model courage, hard work, sacrifice, and gratitude. Years ago, I chose to pursue what I love, so I dove into the male-dominated wine world without any previous experience. I had no fancy certifications, and naively, no fear. Fast-forward six years and here I am doing it all over again. The first time was for me. This time, it’s for my wahines.”

Fishtown SocialMike Prince

The newly expanded business owner also notes that a market in addition to the wine shop was not an easy decision, but it came down to what made the most sense from a business standpoint.

“There’s only one of me, and not enough hours in the day. As I did when I created the Fishtown Social concept, I asked myself what the neighborhood was missing and what would benefit the commercial corridor the most. The addition of a gourmet market concept to compliment Wahine Wine Company is something unique that doesn’t exist on the island. My goal is to generate even more energy for Ventnor and the surrounding areas, which is good for everyone.”

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