Photograph by Coral Von Zumwalt
Unexpected extra: The former minimart that Susan Brink, her sister, Molly, and Molly’s girlfriend, Tracy Hof, bought to turn into a gift shop had an intriguing heritage. The triangular building had once been a trolley stop, and it came with a wine and beer license. Just like kismet: Brink is a sommelier. She had been running a gift basket business with Molly and sidelining as wine director for the restaurants Dominick’s and Little Dom’s. Hof, a film editor, is an oenophile with a penchant for Italian reds. Dual purpose: In August 2008, the trio opened Venokado, whose name is a play on the Italian word for “wine” and the French word for “gift.” The shape of the place underscores its unusual mix of merchandise. “It’s amazing how much the businesses marry,” says Brink, who stocks gifts in one half of the boutique and vintages from all over the world in the other. Hold everything: Venokado’s specialty is the “clutch gift,” a box that contains a bottle with goodies—candles, artisanal chocolates, organic baby toys—that are color coordinated with the wine label. » 7714 Fountain Ave., West Hollywood, 323-850-1600.