“Every restaurateur has to grow up at some stage,” laughed Mark Henegan, and with this month’s re-launch of Madiba, his eight-year-old South African restaurant, Henegan is doing just that.
Once known for all-night dance parties that attracted local devotees as well as flamboyant guests — the cast of Broadway’s “The Lion King” would occasionally pop in and perform — the restaurant’s new outlook is a bit more subdued.
“Fort Greene has really become a destination,” said Henegan, “and Madiba has always been a destination, because we’re the only South African restaurant in New York. But a lot of new clients have moved to the neighborhood, and to keep a fresh, modern outlook, we want to go upscale with a lot more food, better service and more high-end events.”
Fancy parties and a new menu — courtesy of new executive chef Jorge Soltero — aside, Henegan hasn’t forgotten his neighbors. Despite catering events at the South African Consulate in Manhattan, and planning massive parties for well-heeled patrons, Madiba is still a place for locals to drop by for a good time.
The restaurant now hosts Monday night movies (screening at 7 pm and 10 pm) and Thursday night networking events, in addition to live music every Saturday night. February’s lineup includes a variety of South African musicians.
“‘Madiba’ is a South African term of endearment that was given to Nelson Mandela,” said Henegan, “and the restaurant is in tribute to Nelson Mandela and a new South Africa.”
And, it would seem, a new Fort Greene as well.
Madiba (195 DeKalb Ave. at Carlton Avenue in Fort Greene) accepts American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. While the kitchen closes at midnight, Madiba is open until 4 am. For information, call (718) 855-9190 or visit www.madibarestaurant.com.