'Martha's daughter' shares vision for new Duluth restaurant
In the not-too-distant future, the echoes along a lamplit Superior Street may include the following line: "Have you tried Martha's Daughter yet? We have to go tonight."...
In the not-too-distant future, the echoes along a lamplit Superior Street may include the following line: "Have you tried Martha's Daughter yet? We have to go tonight."
That's the hope for the new restaurant by Nyanyika Banda, who has made a name for herself in local popups and catering in the past few years.
"Ever since I first moved to Duluth I thought this would be a great place to open a restaurant," she said. "It's exciting. It's definitely overwhelming at times."
With the closure of Coney Island at 107 E. Superior St. earlier this year, Banda saw a chance to take her years of culinary experience from across the country and set down roots. Martha's Daughter will focus on "New American" dishes, with flavors familiar to those who have tasted her offerings around town.
"It's definitely a reflection of the stuff I've done so far in my popups," she said over coffee last week, adding that street tacos and ramen will be among the picks. "There will be options for someone to come in and get a quick bite to eat, and there will be options for sit-down dinner."
The restaurant is slated to open later this year; Banda is aiming for September.
Banda, who also writes about food for the News Tribune , plans to pay homage to the history of Coney Island, which first opened in 1921. That means serving late nights on the weekend and a rotating selection of beer, wine and cocktails.
"I've talked to people who went to college here in the '80s - it was a happening late-night spot and a bunch of people would go after the bars," she said. "I have a vision of bringing that back."
There's also a chance hot dogs may again grace the menu, as Banda has reached out to Northern Waters Smokehaus about an artisan approach to the classic dog.
The early focus at Martha's Daughter will be dinner and those late weekend nights after local chefs cautioned Banda about doing too much at once to start. And to let the local service industry in on the new eats, she'll be closing Wednesdays as opposed to the usual Sundays and Mondays.
The name of the restaurant is a holdover from Banda's catering business that started in New York City; Martha is in fact her mother's name.
"I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, where my parents were active in the community, and so I was known as 'Martha's daughter,' " she said.
Banda, 35, finds herself firmly Midwestern these days, however, as she anchors herself in a place where the culinary tide is rising.
"A thriving food scene is not necessarily seen as competitive but one where we have lots of options, and we can all support each other."