For first-time small business owner Stephanie Noel, falling in love with the Short North Arts District happened naturally when she and her husband moved from their longtime home in Powell to Italian Village. Most surprising was the sense of community she experienced in the District, which felt similar to her childhood hometown, a feeling she likened to “small town in a big city.” Now, with the recent opening of her paint-and-sip studio, Pinot’s Palette, Noel is feeling more rooted in the community than ever.

Deciding to open a small business has long been of interest to Noel because both of her parents were entrepreneurs. She sought guidance from many in the community when deciding on her venture, and was encouraged by the willingness of others to help her. Noel ultimately felt an art-centric business would be an optimal fit for the District, and decided to use the tools and resources provided by existing franchise Pinot’s Palette in order to concentrate on customer service. “That was focal for me – creating an experience that’s different than what guests have had before,” she said. “I want people to feel very welcome when they come through the door.”

Indeed, upon entering the studio, the immediate impression is charming and inviting. During the renovation of the space, Noel and her contracting team brought many aspects of the 2,100 square foot space up to code while maintaining aesthetically pleasing features such as exposed brick and gleaming hardwood floors. In addition to a bar buildout in the back of the space, walls were built to create an enclosed space that will allow for private and public events to occur simultaneously. Perhaps most importantly, rows of studio-grade LED track lighting line the ceiling to illuminate the space and provide ample wattage to aspiring artists.

For the uninitiated, the concept of paint-and-sip is as straightforward as it sounds: paint a picture while enjoying an adult beverage. The thoughtful buildout of the space allows patrons to do so in one of three ways. For the first, patrons can choose from a calendar of classes, each with a predetermined artwork, allowing them to prioritize either the date and time at which they’d like to paint, or the image they’d like to paint. These classes are led by teachers in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step process. Noel hopes people who choose this route will bring groups of friends to enjoy their time together in a creative endeavor.

Patrons can also book the private space for parties of 10 or more, with almost endlessly customizable uses and decor choices for events and optional paint-and-sip classes, and Noel looks forward to helping people create special memories during private events. Finally, patrons can wander in to paint anything they like during open studio hours, which are currently only available on the weekend. Noel hopes to expand the latter offering to weekdays in the future, and also plans to have regular happy hours at the bar.

For Noel, the people she’s met during the process of opening the business has been immensely rewarding. “We want to be a staple in the community,” Noel said, and it seems the feeling is mutual; in the week since Pinot’s private opening reception and public grand opening, its success has been evident on Instagram, where faces of patrons are either concentrating on their work or smiling behind their finished paintings.

Pinot’s Palette is located at 691 N. High St. Click here to see a calendar of events and learn more about private event planning.

– Michelle Gibson