The Little Pub Company -- owners of The Spot, the Irish Hound, Wymans and seventeen other neighborhood watering holes -- will open its newest location in the former M&D's Café, at 2800 28th Avenue, which closed a year ago. Mark Berzins, who runs Little Pub, says he's not normally an urban pioneer, preferring to open new locations in established areas. But this is a chance to breathe some life into the Whittier neighborhood, which has very few bars and restaurants.
See also: - M&D's Cafe left behind lots of fans...and a million-dollar debt to the city - The nineteen pubs of the big-thinking Little Pub Company - Little Pub Company buys College Inn and three other watering holes
"There isn't much of anything up there. We've had it on our radar since M&D's first closed up," he says. "There are some of my restaurant colleagues who are curious to see how we do. If we have success up there, I wouldn't be surprised if a few others work out deals. This will be a good indicator of whether the neighborhood is ready."
Renovation and a timetable for opening are pending a liquor-license hearing, scheduled for January 24.
Little Pub hasn't come up with a name yet, but Berzins says it could be something like "The Whittier," and that it will have a neighborhood theme. The location will have fare and beer choices similar to those at other Little Pub locations.
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Berzins, who bought the 4,000-square-foot building at auction, also says he only plans to use half the space and that he will lease out the other half.
M&D's, which served soul food for 34 years, closed almost exactly one year ago after defaulting on a million-dollar loan from the city's Office of Economic Development; Berzins says he tried to work out a deal with the city to buy the building directly, but that he eventually had to acquire it via auction and pay off a few liens.
"I've met with the community leaders up there, and there is a lot of support for investment and development in their community," he says. "When you make a decision to buy something at auction without a lot of time...It's reassuring when you reach out to the neighborhood and get that kind of support and feedback."