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Ocala
Monday, April 15, 2024

Popular downtown wine spot celebrating 20 years with new name and offerings

A popular downtown wine and beer spot is celebrating 20 years in business with a completely new name and menu.

The Keep Downtown, known formerly as the Ocala Wine Experience, was purchased three years ago by owners Megan Whittaker and Mark Sykuta with the intention of creating a downtown bar, wine shop and bistro inspired by their experiences in New Orleans and St. Augustine.

The Keep Downtown in Ocala, FL
Ocala Wine Experience will be rebranded as The Keep Downtown during the month of May.

“Over the past three years, we have redesigned the vibe and the offerings to fit our vision,” said Whittaker in a Facebook post announcing the rebranding.

“On this anniversary of not only the purchase of the business, but also the 20th anniversary of Ocala Wine Experience, we are announcing a full re-brand” added Whittaker.

Located just off the main downtown square at 36 SW 1st Ave, the bar is a hotspot for locals and visitors to Ocala on account of its eclectic style, extensive beer and wine offerings, live music, and knowledgeable staff, including Sykuta, who is a Certified Sommelier.

Becky Sinn performs at Ocala Wine Experience
Local musician Becky Sinn performs at Ocala Wine Experience.

Inspired by a blend of fantasy and pop culture from their favorite books, movies, music and television shows, the couple will put their own stamp on a downtown Ocala staple.

“Don’t be surprised to find us streaming music videos from the 80s at the downstairs bar, while simultaneously serving Game of Thrones wines during a grunge-era acoustic jam session and discussing the new Avengers movie in the bistro upstairs,” says Whittaker.

Wine tastings and networking events are offered on a monthly basis, with dozens of local representatives from businesses gathering at the location as part of Young Professionals Ocala.

The wine lineup during a recent wine tasting at The Keep Downtown
The wine lineup during a recent wine tasting at The Keep Downtown.

Whittaker indicates that The Keep will offer a more “diverse product line including craft mead on draft, specialty beers, and shareable gourmet food,” in addition to an extensive wine offering that might be the largest in downtown.

Tapas, flatbreads, and cheese platters are some of the many food options at The Keep Downtown
Tapas, flatbreads, and cheese platters are some of the many food options at The Keep Downtown.