By Bruce GIBSON
Meeting new people, getting to know them and getting to know their tastes in wine is something The Wine Cave owner Scott Starkey genuinely enjoys. It’s no act, though it could be, seeing as Starkey is a former actor, being classically trained and having appeared on stage and television.
Starkey caught the acting bug while attending Las Vegas High School and, upon graduation, moved to California to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena. Two years later, he moved to New York to study theater at New York University. While there he appeared in several off-Broadway productions such as King Lear and Romeo and Juliet.
Starkey left college to pursue acting full-time and to make ends meet took a job as a union barback, assisting the bartenders by retrieving ice and stocking the shelves. Six months later he became a full-fledged bartender, taking a job at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan. Meanwhile, Starkey continued acting, appearing in the soap opera Ryan’s Hope for a year.
After nine years, the “desert boy” finally had enough harsh New York winters and headed west, stopping for a year in his hometown where he appeared in episodes of the Vegas-based television series Crime Story. Following the series’ cancellation, Starkey continued westward to Hollywood.
Ultimately he decided to quit acting altogether and return to bartending. In 1991, he was hired as the bartender at the then-new Milano’s Italian restaurant in Glendale and seven years later along with chef Claudio Brusarmalino and other partners, took over control of Milano’s when the restaurant’s ownership was forced to sell due to legal reasons.
Tending the bar, creating the wine list and collaborating with chef Claudio on wine dinners piqued Starkey’s interest in wine. Soon he was visiting Southern California’s wine-producing regions to learn all he could about the areas’ wines and how they were made.
What Starkey loved most about those trips was the very personal attention he received when visiting the smaller wineries and tasting rooms, talking to the winemakers and hearing their stories of how and why they decided on which varietals to produce.
When Milano’s closed in late 2007, Starkey chose to continue in the wine business and opened The Wine Cave in November 2009, bringing to Montrose the very ambience and personal attention he had enjoyed during his trips to the wine country. “Montrose is a great community, a hidden gem in Los Angeles,” said Starkey, “and I wanted to open it up to wine.”
He is as passionate about the wine business today as he was about studying the classics 25-30 years ago. “You have to be passionate about something, whatever you do. I love this community and whether I do it or somebody else does, [The Wine Cave] needs to be here.”
Besides, said Starkey, “Getting to meet people, become friends, and pour wine beats working for a living!”
You can learn more about The Wine Cave by visiting their Facebook page or simply stop in at 2427 Honolulu Ave., meet Scott Starkey and enjoy a glass of wine.