Customers who enter Cielo Soaps and Wine at Crossing not only enter the place of business, they enter the home.
The two units, located at 202 N. Freedom Ave., are owned by Beth and Dennis Polito, who live on the second floor of a unique triangle-shaped building that was truly the catalyst for the couple’s relocation to the Alliance.
“If you come into our business, you are a guest in our home and you are treated wonderfully as our guest,” Beth Polito said when she and her husband recently approached members of the Alliance’s Rotary Club at the Alliance YWCA.
The Polito family, who ran a printing company in California for several years and worked in education, retired in 2015 and moved to Dundee, Michigan. They lived in an attic above a candle company. Dennis ran about 15 antique dealers who sold their wares in the basement. Beth was helping her sister renovate some buildings in Toledo and was just starting an online soap business that she had learned to make as a way to soothe skin problems she had suffered for many years.
Things were going well for the half-retired couple until the coronavirus pandemic struck in March 2020. The candle company they lived on closed its doors, antique sellers were told to pack up and leave, and Polito was locked up together. with the rest of their compatriots, residents of Michigan.
By November 2020, they have decided to move. The couple wanted a place they could renovate, use as a home and as a soap shop, and it had to be between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Vermilion, Ohio, where two of their sons live.
They began searching the Internet, exploring areas such as Salem and Sebring, and then spotted the one-of-a-kind building on 202 N. Freedom Ave., an Alliance landmark from 1885 that was once a market and most recently served as bar and restaurant with names like The Cabana Club, Friendz and Karen’s Castle.
He also came up with an alcohol license, which intrigued Dennis, who developed a vast knowledge and deep interest in wine while working briefly as a distributor for California.
The Polito family arranged a meeting to see the building, bringing one of their sons. After seeing the oak bar on the ground floor, they were sold, knowing it would be difficult to take advantage of another opportunity like the one they had on 202 N. Freedom Ave.
Since joining the Alliance in July 2021, the couple has installed all new windows on the second floor, turning this level into a living space. The custom bar, which was once there, was dismantled and reconfigured on the ground floor as part of the Cielo Soaps store.
Politos have also installed a new roof, a new HVAC system and renovated the bathrooms. Since they both love to cook, they are introducing a new kitchen, but do not intend to run a restaurant.
While living on the second floor, they do business on the ground floor with working hours between noon and 5 pm from Wednesday to Saturday. Of course, they will open on special request for events, if connected in advance.
At one end of this ground floor is Cielo Soaps, which opened in October 2021.
Beth said Cielo is Italian for Heaven. She chose the name of those who tried the soaps and described them that way.
Decorated by two surviving glass windows, original for the building, the back is where Beth makes her plant-based products made from natural ingredients. They contain 100% essential oils.
She said her products were vegan. While she said she was asked if they were gluten-free, she joked that she advised not to eat any of them. She really said they would be declared gluten-free.
In addition to selling Beth’s soaps, Cielo Soaps offers a personalized soap-making experience for up to five adults. The 90-minute experience costs $ 150 and includes a free glass of champagne provided by Wine at the Crossing.
While the guests sip from their bubbles, Beth, who does the work, explains the process of mixing essential oils and the group decides what to add to their batch of 10 blocks. Each bar weighs 4 ounces. Guests also choose colors and design custom packaging. The curing of the rods takes 30 days and the members receive the bars individually packed in a muslin bag with the signature of Cielo Soaps.
Of course, visitors can visit their soap during the 30-day hardening process and stop by the Wine at the Crossing, which opened in December 2021 in the bar area of the building once known as The Castle Nightclub.
Wine at the Crossing brings about four Chardonnay, four Cabernet and four Pinot Noir at any one time, as well as several special wines from around the world.
Dennis said 95% of the wines can’t be found locally and he and Beth must approve the wine before it is served at Wine at the Crossing.
The facility offers two tastings – both with a minimum of 10 adults. For $ 15 per person, tasters will try a selection of five delicacies with gourmet wine and bottled delicacies. In the second experience, for $ 35 per person, tasters also receive a sausage board with Italian dried meats, hard cheese, olives, a mini cheese ball, fresh fruit and Italian cracker bread.
In June, July, August and September, representatives of wine companies will visit Wine at the Crossing on the third Thursday and explain their wines.
More information about these and other events can be found on the Wine at the Crossing Facebook page, which also presents each new wine when placed on the shelf.
Politos is also open for events of up to 50 people. According to Beth, there is no rental fee for such events, but they want $ 50 products to be purchased to cover their costs.
To contact Cielo Soaps, call 858-750-5260. To contact Wine at the Crossing, call 310-740-6256.