When Realtor Caleb Ben-Avram and school teacher Tim Slivinski learned that a small wine store in the business district of Wilton Manors was on the market, they decided to investigate. “We both always loved exploring wine stores, whether locally or when we traveled,” says Ben- Avram. “At the time, The Naked Grape only sold wine by the bottle, and did not have ‘by the glass’ sales. We decided that if we were to purchase the business, we would change the format to a wine bar,” adds Slivinski.
“It’s hard to believe,” recalls Ben- Avram of that day in 2007. The partners knew that success would bring changes. “We used to listen to people who would stop in for a glass of wine. We’d hear, ‘We’re going to grab a bite to eat and we’ll be back.’ Of course, most times they never did come back after dinner,” Slivinski recalls. That oft-repeated scenario motivated the duo to find a location where they could offer food service to their patrons. That brought them—and their successful operation— up the Drive a few hundred feet, to 2163 Wilton Drive, next to Karl Grace Insurance (and the old offices of Guy Magazine). It was a wise decision.
“We consistently get four-and-a-half [out of a maximum of five] stars on Yelp.com,” notes Ben-Avram. “Our food is always fresh. I go to green markets throughout the area. I refuse to use anything that is prepackaged. That’s one of the things that set us apart,” he adds.
Slivinski says that they are regularly fine-tuning The Naked Grape to better serve their regulars and new patrons. “We have reduced the amount of bottles from our retail area. We do sell lots of bottles near the holidays, and of course for dinner parties as hostess gifts, but we are really concentrating on our food.
Of their addition of an alfresco outdoor dining and conversation area, he adds, “People enjoy being able to sit outside with a book and sip their wine or one of our gourmet beers.”
The oenophiles (look it up) have lots to offer wine-lovers who can’t get enough of the juice of the grape. “In addition to our Tuesday and Wednesday half price bottles for on-premise consumption, we are offering ‘Pairings’ on Thursday night: Three food items and three wines for one price. Sometimes we will pair desserts with wine, and other times it may be cheeses,” Slivinski explains. “We always have one of the wine reps at these tastings to answer questions. We call it ‘Wine with No Pretense.’”
As for the rest of the year, “Every year around Thanksgiving we have a Holiday Tasting. This year the date is November11, from 3 to 5 p.m.,” notes Ben-Avram. “It’s always well-attended and a great time. I may even bake one of my blue cheese cheesecakes,” he adds—teasing palates and threatening waistlines across the Island City. The same as it ever was.
For more anniversary specials, visit nakedgrapewinebar.com, and tell Caleb and Tim you read about them in Agenda. Cheers!