When you walk into the Theory Wine Bar and Listening Room on Main Street, you can almost feel your blood pressure go down, your worries melt away, your mood perk up.
And that's by design, say owners Christian Bachmann and Jennifer Schneidewent.
"We wanted to build a place that's relaxing and social," says Bachmann.
"Or not," Schneidewent chimes in. Meaning?
"We have a lot of people who come in solo and just sit at the bar and feel very comfortable not socializing," she says.
"They take a moment," he adds. "Have a glass."
"Have some food," she notes. "Listen to the music."
While they aren't an "old married couple" who finish each others' sentences, they are clearly on the same page when it comes to the theory behind Theory.
The bar is impeccably decorated, with comfortable couches and sofas in one corner, tables and chairs in the windows, and stools at the bar, which is an enormous, slightly textured slab of black granite.
Behind the bar, Colin Byrd, who has been on board since the joint opened Dec. 22, 2018, deftly wields wine bottles, opening them with ease, and placing some into the wine preservation system. The glass-windowed cabinet keeps bottles fresh by pumping argon, an inert gas, into the top of an opened bottle to keep out air. The result is that some of the finer wines, which may not be consumed as quickly as some of the lesser wines, can stay fresh for up to three weeks. Buttons at the top allow for different amounts to be taken from the bottle via a straw that comes directly from the bottles.
It seems like an elaborate contraption, but for wine connoisseurs, or really anyone who likes a fresh-tasting glass of merlot, pinot noir, or any of the other many varieties of red and white available, it is an important detail.
Bachmann and Schneidewent spent their life-savings on the bar, having inherited a "comfortable place to land" from his father, a long-time teacher in Andover who died in 2016.
While she is from Milwaukee and he's from Andover, they met at a Buddhist meditation group in Boston.
In addition to meditation and wine, art is never far from their hearts, either, as she dabbles in sculpture and Chris is a musician who still plays in a band — the Under Atoms — on bass.
Music, as a result, is a big part of the mix at the wine bar.
"We both love music, we both love wine," she says, noting that the couple moved from Watertown to Andover in 2016 to fulfill their dream.
"We were just sitting around one night, saying, 'Wouldn't it be great to walk into town, drink a glass of wine and listen to some music?'" she remembered. After a year or two, that vision became a reality. Chris retired from corporate IT, she quit massage therapy, and here they are, in Andover.
On one recent Thursday evening, Matt Stubbs and the Antiguas were on-hand for a show. After a brief sound-check, a couple of the band-mates were sitting at the bar, waiting for the 8 p.m. start time.
"I love it," said Stubbs, whose father Dale and mother Chris were sitting in the audience with some friends, all from Hampstead, N.H.
Matt said the sound system was excellent and he loved the backdrop — stacks of faux speakers.
When he and the band started up -- guitar, keyboard and drums -- the sound filled the space, which was once occupied by Brueggers Bagels. The space looks nothing like it did when servers dished up assorted bagel sandwiches and coffee, however. While the band was loud, the acoustics gave the music a solid feel.
Patrons enjoyed the ambiance.
"We've been to different restaurants on Main Street," said Rishi Parmar of Chelmsford, who was there with some co-workers from a tech firm on Dascomb Road. "This is pretty cool. It's got a good atmosphere and great tasting wine."
One of his colleagues agreed, adding that the service was very good.
Gail London, who was sitting at the table with the Stubbs', noted that the wine selection was also top-notch.
"I was glad to see they have puglia wines," she said. "It's a wine region on the heel of Italy. When I saw that I was like, 'Wow, you don't see that often.'"
Another thing you don't see often is a place like Theory Wine Bar. Offering mostly finger-foods while boasting a mid- and high-level wine list, the establishment may be able to fill a niche that seems missing from the Merrimack Valley scene: A comfortable place to drink a couple glasses of your favorite wine while listening to original, local music and being treated well by the staff and the owners.
It's a theory that seems to be right.