FORT GREENE — Local South African fixture Madiba Restaurant is here to stay.
Owner Mark Henegan said he was able to raise $30,000 to save the restaurant, at 195 Dekalb Ave., after struggling to keep it open due to the rising costs of operating a business and a dispute with his landlord over the restaurant’s lease.
Madiba, named after former anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela, has been on Dekalb Avenue in Fort Greene since 1999. But Henegan says business had been struggling after he closed its Harlem outpost, and when his landlord in Fort Greene asked him for $150,000 to renew his lease, Henegan said he wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep the business going.
So Henegan launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in December and was able to raise $20,000. He said he’s also raised another $10,000 in outside donations from dinner party fundraisers.
“That kind of pulled me back into shape,” Henegan said. “I just needed a boost just to get back on track.”
Since then, Henegan said he’s been able to work out a deal with his landlord, although he declined to say how much he ended up paying to stay at the Dekalb Avenue location.
To celebrate Madiba’s comeback, Henegan said he’s made some renovations, like hanging up new artwork, splashing on a fresh coat of paint and fixing up the restaurant’s rooftop herb garden for the spring season.
A new spring menu will feature a smaller wine and liquor list that will include smaller vineyards from South Africa.
“We got rid of all that stuff we didn’t want to keep anymore this winter when we ran out of money. It was a nice way to just kind of clean,” Henegan said.
Henegan said he’s looking forward to an event-filled spring and summer, starting with his annual celebration of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on April 27, which brings the community together for a night of South African food, music and dancing.
“I love this neighborhood, I couldn’t imagine Madiba losing this location and losing this community over here,” Henegan said.
“To hold on to a restaurant as long as we have sometimes you go through the roller coaster ride.”