It was a quiet early evening on Beach Street.
A man and woman were casually walking along the sidewalk, baby in tow, while a lady took advantage of the new Daytona Beach Riverfront Esplanade to walk a dog. Echoes of the Daytona Tortugas baseball game faintly rose to an audible level.
It was a Wednesday night. A work night. Making the quiet scene appropriate. The typical weekend revelry was still 48 hours away. But you couldn’t tell based on the crowd at Madeline's Wine Bar.
Inside Madeline’s, there was a lively vibe as trumpeter Pat d'Aguanno mixed dulcet tones in-between the upbeat chatter of the near-full establishment. The open kitchen was as busy as the bar. Chef Joseph Mendez filled plates as quickly as the friendly bar staff filled wine glasses.
The mastermind behind this impressive weeknight scene is not a lady named Madeline. Rather it is a lady named Meghan “Moo” Duran.
So then, how did Ms. Duran’s wine bar get the name Madeline’s? Prior to being a wine bar, the space was occupied by a yogurt shop. The former yogurt store owner named the business after his dog, so she thought, “I’m going to name it Madeline’s, after my (first) cat.”
An interesting aside, she used to bring her children to the yogurt store. In other words, she was a customer in the same space that eventually became her wine bar.
That space is the corner of Beach and Bay streets. The story of how Madeline's Wine Bar was named touches on a theme of Ms. Duran's. She has a knack for bringing history to the present and making it relevant.
For instance, the original business in the location was a pharmacy. Ms. Duran recognized the former pharmacy by using a medical plus sign in her logo as opposed to an apostrophe for the word Madeline’s.
This is her first foray into ownership. The Pittsburgh native began her career more than 16 years ago, working at a country club in the Steel City. Upon moving to Daytona Beach, she was lucky enough to get a job at the Ocean Deck as a hostess and a bartender. Ms. Duran proceeded to work in various establishments over the 16-plus years, learning about the business and about people.
It was a fun time in her life, she said. “You learn a lot about people, and you see a lot about people.”
All that learning clearly helped her know what would and would not work in a wine bar. From the funkiness of the card catalog to the original pharmacy floor laid down circa 1910 to the beautiful chandeliers, it all comes together to create the vibe that fills a void in the market.
“Daytona was lacking somewhere for your 30 and over crowd to go that's not a restaurant and not a nightclub,” Ms. Duran said.
OK, you’re thinking the place looks and feels great, but it’s a wine bar. What about the drinks and food? Opening the menu reveals an extensive wine list and beers. Be sure to check the wines listed under Interesting Whites and Interesting Reds.
As for the food, Chef Mendez details his approach, “Bottom line is, the care that you get with this food, it shows with the presentation, (with) the flavor profiles. It's all there.”
The best testament to how enjoyable the food and wine are is that when restaurants close around town, they go to Madeline’s Wine Bar to unwind.
Madeline's Wine Bar has been open since January after a delay of about six months because of the supply chain issues that the lock-downs caused. It is available for renting and will soon have a private room. You can also find the bar participating in all Beach Street events.