New restaurant approved to open inside historic train station

The old Dee Dee’s Dog House building is shown with Union Station in the background in Ocala on Wednesday, Nov. 17. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 
On Nov. 16, the City of Ocala approved a five-year lease agreement for a new restaurant to open inside the historic Ocala Union Station, located at 531 N.E. First Ave.

Owned by Terrance Marince and Matt Reber, the restaurant, called Depot on Magnolia, will only have to pay $500 a month in rent for the first fiscal year, and $1,000 a month the following four years, according to the lease approved by the council.

And according to the exhibits to the lease agreement, almost all the major restaurant equipment is already in place. The rest of the station has been transformed into an art incubator.

Previously, Dee Dee’s Diner closed after 10 years because of economic conditions caused by COVID-19 in December of 2020. The City of Ocala Procurement Department issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) on June 1.

Four proposals were up for review: Epic Consulting aka Big Lee’s BBQ, Pop’s Place, The Foundation Wilson, and The Lion & The Bull, Inc., aka Marince and Reber. Epic Consulting and The Lion & The Bull were short-listed. On Sept. 1, the city’s selection committee chose Marince and Reber’s bid as the top choice.

The selection committee was composed of three city staff members, according to Ashley Dobbs, marketing and communications manager for the City of Ocala: one person from Community Redevelopment Area (CRA), one person from facilities, and one person from finance, respectively.

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