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It’s not Bob’s, but Darryl’s is a welcome addition

Bridgit Brown | 9/8/2010, 5:08 a.m.
Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen is locatd on the corner of Columbus Avenue and Northampton Street in the South End. The restaurant recently opened in the former location of Bob The Chef’s. Darryl Settles

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Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen is locatd on the corner of Columbus Avenue and Northampton Street in the South End. The restaurant recently opened in the former location of Bob The Chef’s.

Darryl Settles walks around his new digs, stopping here and there to give old friends a hug and welcome new friends to Darryl’s Corner bar and Kitchen — a sleek bar and lounge at the heart of Lower Roxbury in the South End neighborhood of Boston.

“It’s about time. We’ve been waiting for you,” says one patron as she exchanges a friendly hug with the 49-year-old Settles who sold the legendary Bob the Chef’s in 2007 — a move that many in the Lower Roxbury community regretted since Bob’s had been a cornerstone there since 1957.

 Settles explains why he originally sold and bought the business back over the course of two -and-a-half-years.

“We had opened the Beehive,” he says. “My wife was pregnant with our second child. I was involved with many projects and wanted to fully pursue other opportunities and spend more time with my family.”

As a result, he said, “The business was put up for sale. Everyone knew it. There were white brokers, black brokers, everyone was involved with the process, yet no one of color stepped up to the plate to take it.”

Darryl’s Corner is in the same spot as Bob’s now, and while one can no longer get a plate of collard greens or a slice of that scrumptious sweet potato pie — the soulful vibe is back on the block.

“Do you know who that is?” Settles asks a young patron as he points to the large life-like black and white portrait of the Queen of Soul at a fairly young age.

“Of course,” says the patron, scrutinizing the image. “That’s Aretha Franklin.”

The other black and white prints by local photographers Lou Jones, Hakim Raquib and Don West are dispersed throughout the main dining room area, giving the place its mood and character.

Its décor is tasteful, warm and rich like the maroons and reds in the works on the wall of Roxbury visual artist Ekua Holmes. The energy in Darryl’s Corner on this night is vivid like the brush strokes in the oil on canvas by Paul Goodnight that hangs under a soft light in the second dining room area.

Getting back on the block seemed like a quick and easy thing for Settles who owns the entire 604-608 Columbus Ave. building including the restaurant space.

“I sold the restaurant to someone who did not last long and then he sublet it to someone else and that did not last. I’m a real estate guy and I understand the business and I did not want this to become a ‘bad corner,’ which is a jinx in real estate terms. I know the neighborhood and I loved the renovations that they did and for various reasons I missed owning the bar.”

After selling Bob’s, Settles partnered on a project with the Abbey Group’s Bill Keravuori and Jack Bardy, the former owner of what was one of the South End’s most popular pan-Asian dining experiences — Pho Republique. What came out of the partnership was the Beehive Bar and Lounge on Tremont Street in the South End, an idea that Settles says was his own. After a lengthy and bitter court battle, Settles’ co-ownership of the Beehive has been dissolved.