After several years of pleasing late-night palates with her pop-up restaurant, chef Nyanyika Banda is opening Martha’s Daughter, a brick and mortar eatery. She hopes to have the Original Coney Island space at 107 E. Superior St. transformed to fit her vision by summer’s end.
Though she has been catering under the name Martha’s Daughter for some time (and yes, her mother’s name is Martha), Banda is perhaps best known for Marita Pop Up, which served inspired tacos and noodle dishes at rotating venues like the Red Herring Lounge.
Martha’s Daughter will feature globally influenced American cuisine with a changing menu based on the same philosophy as the roving restaurant, which incorporated fresh, seasonal and local ingredients as much as possible.
Banda signed the lease for the space on June 1 and she bought the Original Coney Island business, which includes the name, equipment and recipes. Since Banda is a history buff, she hopes to learn more of the backstory behind what was Duluth’s longest-running restaurant until it closed in May. She may even incorporate a coney into the menu.
But for now, the space is being refurbished to Banda’s specifications. It will become a sit down restaurant with table service. The old memorabilia has been removed from the walls. The counter will be removed to make way for a bar. Banda will be adding a walk-in cooler and more dishwashers.
“I’m looking forward to opening a restaurant that represents me and the food I’ve been cooking here,” she says. “It’s exciting, and still a little surreal. It’s definitely going to require a lot of work and self discipline.”
Banda, who is professionally trained and has worked in top kitchens in San Francisco and New York City, wants to introduce Duluthians to innovative culinary techniques. But don’t expect stuffy and upscale — she emphasizes the idea of playing with food and having fun with it.
Martha’s Daughter will offer a fine dining experience for people going out for special occasions but there will be a spectrum of prices, with some affordable small plates in the $6-10 range to accommodate “people who are just hungry.”
The restaurant will serve dinner and late-night food. Depending on how it goes, Banda may eventually add lunch service. She’s in the process of getting a liquor license and plans to serve draft beer, wine and cocktails as well as house soda and syrups.
She wants the restaurant to be “a comfortable place for people to hang out” and has plans for a sound system with a record player. She’ll encourage customers to bring in their own albums to play. Banda expects to eventually host acoustic and solo artists too.
Once up and running, the remodeled space will allow for catering. Banda anticipates adding a food truck next summer too, as she sees an opportunity to provide daytime business lunches in the area. She also hopes to partner with other businesses in close proximity, such as Blacklist Artisan Ales, to offer takeaway food options.
Banda is designing a business that will be responsive and adaptable. “I’m going to start small and respond to what people want,” she says.
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