The charming storefront of 3535 Broadway seems to possess more lives than Charlie Sheen. Over the years, it has housed the Athena, Pappagallo, Cafe Trio and Rhythm Lounge. And it's about to open as something new, the Graffiti Grill, formerly Castaway's Marina and Grill of Smithville.
Owners Shane and Stephanie Kesterson lost their lease after three years of beach-bumming at Castaway's on-the-water location. Their treasure hunt for a new home led them from the suburbs to the big city and landlocked life.
Stephanie's admiration for the art of graffiti inspired the
urbanized name and environment of Graffiti Grill. Dining amongst displays of artistic vandalism may turn off prospective customers, but Stephanie is determined to overcome graffiti's negative connotations.
"I don't have the lake anymore to draw people to me, so I have to create
an environment that will draw attention to myself," Stephanie says. "I think with the
graffiti and stuff on the wall, the minute you walk in it's a completely
different-feeling place.We're trying to show the
Castaway's, the owner that had the building before me just ran it into
the ground," Stephanie says. "For three years, I had to build my reputation up, but
I managed to do that. I'm not Rhythm Lounge, and
people will soon figure that out."
Castaway's generated so much
business that the cooks began cooking and marinading meat before it was ordered. One disappointed customer accused them of precooking the chicken and burgers,
but Stephanie insists that Castaway's never violated any health codes. Everything at Graffiti Grill will be cooked to order, she says.
expects as much of a crowd at Graffiti Grill as Castaway's, although perhaps a little younger.
"We're just taking the success we
had at Castaway's and tweaking it a little bit," Stephanie says. "Our
motto is don't fix it if it's not broken."
The Grill will offer a menu similar to Castaway's selection,
different displays of work from local artists each month, and acoustic
performers. Graffiti Grill will open for lunch on February 23, a
feature that previous tenants of the midtown location, such as Cafe Trio,
didn't offer. Dinner service will begin in March.