Consistently ranked as one of the East Village’s best bars, Lois is a popular wine-on-tap bar in New York City. However, wine is not the only thing that draws people into Lois, as its food offerings are also something to brag about. This inspired Lois founders Phoebe Connell and Nora O’Malley to launch Aida, turning some of culinary staples from Lois into packaged products that can be purchased elsewhere for personal dining or entertaining.
Currant Crisps, Lemon Candied Pepitas, Szechuan Candied Pecans, Sourdough Crackers, and Rye Crackers are the first five offerings. Besides being available for purchase online, these snacks can be found at Bedford Cheese Shop, BKLN Larder, Stinky BKLN, Alphabet City Beer Company, and Malt & Mold. The Daily Meal caught up with both Phoebe and Nora to learn more about Aida — which is branded with the tagline “eat well, entertain easily” — and Lois.
The Daily Meal: Where did the idea come from to evolve from being an East Village bar to also selling your bar snacks outside of the bar?
Phoebe Connell: Aida’s products are inspired by the recipes and customer relationships that we developed in our tiny East Village wine bar, Lois, on Loisaida Avenue. It turns out that people came for the wine but stayed for the food, and continued to ask for extras of many of the products that we made in house and included on our cheeseboards — like our crackers. We wanted to bring Lois into people’s homes, hence Aida was born.
Do you have a favorite of the Aida snacks?
Phoebe Connell: We love them all for very different reasons, and though the Sourdough Crackers are the ones that grab you off the bat, the Lemon Candied Pepitas have proved the most versatile. We always have them in our bags for a quick snack and throw them on everything from salads and yogurt to chicken and take-out curries.
How would you describe your bar to someone who hasn’t been there yet?
Nora O’Malley: We wanted to redefine the wine bar by creating a welcoming and unpretentious space. We were dedicated to proving that quality and accessibility are not mutually exclusive when it comes to food and wine, which is why we chose wines on tap and delicious, creative dishes that pair perfectly with the experience. Wine on tap takes the guesswork out of ordering for a novice and an experienced wine drinker alike, and we love nothing more than offering as many tastes as it takes for someone to find a wine they truly enjoy.
When you’re not busy with Aida, how do you like to spend your free time?
Phoebe Connell: We don’t have much, but when we do, we each love to entertain at our respective homes and spend time at our favorite places around the East Village, such as Satsko, Kafana, 11th Street Bar, and Maiden Lane.
Finally, what’s coming up for Aida?
Nora O’Malley: We’d love to see Aida in every pantry and at every party. We plan to grow into more products that help everyone eat well and entertain easily, and in the meantime you can snack on them all at Lois.