The bar/restaurant, which closed in December, is back with a facelift, but it’s still Zinnie’s, the beloved spot at 1688 Madison. It will be open 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. seven days a week.
And, yes, you still will be able to order a “Zinnalonni” bologna sandwich.
Why did Westmoreland want to buy Zinnie’s? “It’s Midtown. You know everyone who comes in the door — almost.” And, he says, it’s one of the only Midtown bars “where people could have conversations.”
But it was a challenge to get Zinnie’s back to being Zinnie’s, says Westmoreland, who owns Zinnie’s with his wife, Stephanie Westmoreland, and Cullen Kent. “It’s hard trying to keep a bar the same as it was when everything’s gone.”
Almost everything. They still have the tables, chairs, booths, and the long bar. But a lot of the equipment had to be replaced. They still have some of the wall pieces, including Stax, Otis Redding and Bar-Kays posters. Former owner Bill Baker left those, Westmoreland says.
They are having the old stained glass “Zinnie’s” and “Be Nice or Leave” signs re-made, he says.
It wasn’t a “turnkey operation” when they moved in. Not just a change of ownership. A lot had to be done to the place, which originally opened in 1973.
Westmoreland and operations director Rick Haygood gave a tour. One window behind the bar was replaced with wood because the glass had a big crack in it. Dark shades cover the other windows and the front door because they wanted to create a "dark lounge" look during the day.
They now have 12 beer taps behind the bar instead of four, Westmoreland says. New equipment includes a new ice maker and a kegerator for beer kegs. The only original piece is the beer cooler, but it had to be reworked, Westmoreland says.
The place has a new juke box and new ceiling fans. And new toilets now grace the bathrooms. And a wall inside the women’s bathroom, which apparently was too close to the toilet, now is gone. And now there’s a lock on the door.
The sign above the front door with the “little Zinnie’s dude” as Haygood calls him is the same. They’ve just added new lighting for it, as well pinball machines and a “Golden Tee” golf game in the little room at the back, where tables and chairs and a TV once stood.
The kitchen? “Everything in here is brand new.” The original popcorn machine is gone, but a new one that "will work" has been installed.
In addition to the Zinnalonni, patrons will be able to order most of the items from the old menu, Westmoreland says. New items include a meatloaf sandwich and boiled peanuts. Kent and Patrick Hill will man the kitchen.
As for live music, Westmoreland says they’ll probably feature no more than two people doing some kind of soft jazz set.
The Zinnie’s facelift cost about $60,000, he says. They thought it would be $15,000.
Westmoreland has already planned some customer interaction. If you bring in a tin beer sign, you get a beer for a penny. They plan to cover the ceiling with the signs.
But, he says, “It only works once.” You can’t bring in 10 signs and expect 10 beers for a dime.