In December, the Purple Martin (2800 Shenandoah Avenue) announced it was closing. But rumors of its death proved to be greatly exaggerated.
On January 16, a trio of new owners closed on a deal to buy the Fox Park eatery from founder Brooke Roseberry. And within days, they'd quietly reopened — serving a small neighborhood crowd even as they worked through some IT difficulties.
"We didn't really advertise we were open, because we wanted to get things straightened out," says Mark Hinson, one of the new owners. "The IT issues were a problem pretty much every day."
In the last two months, Hinson says he and co-owners George Walker and Tina Zweifel have worked through those problems, hired a chef and rolled out a new menu, one that replaces the restaurant's North African dishes with American comfort food classics
. Chef Desmon Hines is aiming for accessibility with offerings that include burgers, sandwiches including a chicken club and brisket sandwich, salads and flatbread. "Mark's Meatloaf" and chicken saltimbocca are among the entree offerings.
But even though kids eat free on Mondays, it's not just for families. Walker and Hinson were previously co-owners of Van Goghz, and they know how to draw a bar crowd. They put in dart boards and a jukebox, and they're offering karaoke on Fridays and bar trivia on Wednesdays. "We want to offer a little bit of nightlife, too," Hinson says. "We don't want people to come to eat and then just leave."
Now that they've finally got the cash register system working and the details taken care of, the owners are ready to share the good news: The Purple Martin is back, and open for business six nights a week. (Later, they may add Sunday service, but for now, that's the one day off.)
"We want to get the word out," Hinson says.
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PHOTO BY COREY WOODRUFF
The Purple Martin's bar was made from an old boxcar.