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Let's Eat: Owners pass the torch at Leverett Lounge

by Garrett Moore | October 22, 2021 at 7:00 a.m.
Leverett Lounge is open for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays at 737 N. Leverett Ave. near the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. (Garrett Moore/NWA Democrat-Gazette)

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Leverett Lounge was Reese Roberts' and Corey McCain's favorite date night spot. Now, they own it.

Former owners Hannah Withers and Ben Gitchel opened the popular Fayetteville restaurant in 2017 on Leverett Avenue near the University of Arkansas campus.

Roberts and McCain took over this week.

"Hannah and Ben have created a magical space," Roberts said. "It's a place with unlimited possibilities, and we are most excited about growing the business with input and collaboration with our team members."

"I became fast friends with Hannah when we began the Fayetteville Independent Restaurant Alliance," she added. "After having an opportunity to get to know the team, we were blown away by how professional, positive and invested they were."

Roberts and McCain have substantial backgrounds in the hospitality industry that extend to their families.

Both spent years working at Bordinos Restaurant & Wine Bar on Dickson Street, Roberts as general manager and McCain as executive chef. Roberts has done consulting for restaurants in the area as well.

At Leverett Lounge, she anticipates only small, incremental changes.

The menu will change seasonally, as Leverett Lounge has done in the past, with the next shift most likely to occur in November or December.

The Korean Fried Chicken and Mel's Diner will stay on the menu, Roberts assured us.

"We will probably continue to have some classics on the menu with the LL twist, as well as a few nontraditional and super-creative cocktails in the rotation."

Customers looking for a preview of coming menu items should watch the restaurant's specials and social media posts, she said.

Meanwhile, Withers and Gitchel are looking forward to operating just one business, Maxine's Taproom, spending more time together, working less and traveling more.

"Ben and I have both worked in restaurants for over 30 years," Withers said. "Like a lot of people during covid, we really are reprioritizing the way that we spend our personal and work time.

"We love this restaurant. We consider it a success. We're really proud of what we've done both in our community and in the kitchen here," she said. "But in the same line of thought ... this restaurant deserves somebody who is younger, has more energy, and is ready to dig into it."

She said they are "incredibly proud" that Leverett Lounge was able to serve fellow industry workers during the covid-19 pandemic.

"We were really honored to have the trust of our community, who not only donated food, beer, wine, coffee, ice cream, and desserts, but also who wrote us checks and paid us to feed hospitality workers," she said. "I will never forget the last year and a half in our industry. It's been a pretty wild ride."

Leverett Lounge is open from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 737 N. Leverett Ave.

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Has a restaurant recently opened or closed near you? Does your favorite spot have a new menu or new management? Let us know. Email us at gmoore@nwaonline.com.

Print Headline: Owners Pass The Torch At 'Magical Place' Called Leverett Lounge

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