The Grackle

Observations, Reflections and Miscellany from the Wacoan

“Meet Me At MARIE’s”

An Ode to Wine, Women and Community

5 months ago

By Skylla Mumana

Deep in the heart of downtown Waco, nestled between restaurants and shops, is the city’s latest addition to its nightlife lineup — MARIE’s Wine Bar.

MARIE’s Wine Bar, located on 723 Austin Ave., is the newest spot for great wine and great conversation and is quickly becoming a reason to love Waco. With its grand on January 23, the bar has quickly gained traction, and is working to cement itself as a Waco staple. The bar is the brainchild of co-owner and founder Sidney Warren, a Waco resident with over 20 years of business experience.

“I’m a dreamer,” Warren said. “I dream a lot. This was a dream. I dreamed this concept up the way it looks, and the way it feels.”

But any great dream establishment needs a name. Warren wanted something that had meaning to him and to his family. So, after taking some time, he settled on the name ‘Marie’ as an ode to the important women in his life.

“Marie is a family name of sorts. My mom is named Marie, my wife’s middle name is Marie, and my 11-month-old — soon-to-be 12-month-old — daughter’s middle name is Marie,” Warren said. “It’s a Marie fest.”

After deciding on the name, Warren scoured all around Waco for a location.

“I’ve had this beer and wine license since [2020], and since then I’ve been looking around Waco, searching high and low for a good location that I had felt confident in, that I thought would be a good place for a wine bar.”

To find the perfect spot, Warren teamed up with longtime friend and co-owner Aniceto Charles, who is also the owner of Tru Jamaica. After searching together, the pair finally found a space that aligned with Warren’s vision, which just so happened to be the former location of Stay Classy Waco.

After finding the ideal space, the pair’s next goal was to create a unique, upscale atmosphere that screamed wine everywhere you looked. Upon walking in, customers are immediately greeted with copious amounts of wine — from racks of Rieslings and merlots to the wine-themed decor that hangs on the walls. The bar even has French wine barrels scattered throughout, and a personalized menu that features ‘wine-tails’, instead of cocktails.

“If you’re going to a wine bar, you need to see and know that you’re at a wine bar,” Warren said.

Along with their wine-themed decor, both Charles and Warren filled any leftover space with local Waco artwork. Currently, the works of both Arleta Taylor and David Doss are up on MARIE’s walls. Taylor, a Polish abstract artist, utilizes her hands and fingers instead of brushes to create her pieces. She enjoys using her artwork to tell stories and pulls inspiration from history and mythology to do so.

“I like to use symbology, history, mythology, little things from art history and religion, and incorporate them in my art,” Taylor said. “I’m very spiritual. So, when I touch my work, I feel like the emotion is trapped in there.”

MARIE’s currently has 73 different bottles of wine in their rotation. The bar offers both New and Old-World selections, meaning that they have bottles from multiple regions across the world. Their “Old World” selections hail from European countries, such as Spain, France and Italy. Other bottles are from countries such as Mexico, California and Australia, or the “New World”. This variety allows for customers to come and access a multitude of flavors and tastes. The bar also features an in-house sommelier who helped advise the owner duo on their selections.

“She knows so much about wine,” Charles said. “She can tell you the region, tell you the grapes, tell you about award-winning vineyards. Texas, unfortunately, is not really known for its wines. So having a sommelier in Texas, and in Waco, is a plus.”

On top of serving quality wine, Warren also felt that it was important to maintain reasonable prices for their clientele.

“I also made sure that the wine price is economical,” Warren said. “Our base wines are just $32. I’ve sampled every single bottle that we carry in here, and it all went under a stringent testing process. You’ll get a millionaire touch from where you are.”

Besides having great ambiance and wine, the pair also felt that the customer service was just as important for their business.

“For us, we’re going to try our best to make sure that the customer service is an experience, because you can’t have great ambiance and not have good customer service,” Charles said. “One bad customer service can turn you off from a place. We know we can’t satisfy everybody or make everybody happy, but we’re going to try our darndest to do that.”

All their hard work paid off and was seen at MARIE’s grand opening, which was attended by the public, business associates, community leaders and close friends of the two owners. Corie Blount, a retired NBA player and close friend of Warren, was also in attendance. Blount was a personal fan of the atmosphere that the pair created.

“One thing I like that Sidney did was that he didn’t try to go the sports bar route,” Blount said. “He tried to make this a more conversational place where you could go, enjoy some nice music, sip some nice wine and conversate.”

Overall, Blount, amongst others, got to experience what Warren notes is the true meaning behind the bar’s slogan “Meet Me At MARIE’s”.

“’Meet Me At MARIE’s means that you’re gonna meet up with your friends, have a great time and enjoy some wine,” Warren said.