COCOA VILLAGE, Fla. – There’s a new Murdock’s coming to Cocoa Village, with owners who are excited about bringing food and fun back to the corner of Maryland and Brevard avenues.
Mike and Kim Barlowe have ambitious plans for Murdock’s Bistro and Char Bar, which they hope to open in late February or early March, according to News 6 partners Florida Today.
The restaurant will be open seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as offering a robust lineup of musical and comedy acts.
“We want to give people something to do in the evenings,” Kim Barlowe said.
The Barlowes aren’t new to the hospitality business. They’ve owned the Old Florida Grill and Oyster House in Port St. John for the past seven years. Mike Barlowe has owned the Lazy Gator in Titusville for 20 years.
They’re also not new to the area. At least Mike isn’t. He’s a 1994 graduate of Cocoa High School.
Kim, who grew up in Oviedo, said they can’t go anywhere without someone stopping to chat with Mike.
“I joke that he’s a hometown celebrity,” she said. “He knows everybody.”
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When they saw the Murdock’s building up for lease, they felt like it was meant to be. They are drawn to the charm and hometown feel of Cocoa Village and the historic 1940s building that once was home to Murdock’s grocery store.
“We’ve always loved the area,” Kim said. “We love a place where you can park and walk around.”
They’re keeping the Murdock’s name because it’s been with the building for eight decades. Stevie Whittaker, owner of the previous Murdock’s, which closed in June, said she knew the name stayed with the building when she signed her lease 20 years ago.
The Barlowes said they wish Whittaker the best with her new venture, Tin Whiskey, which opened at the north end of Cocoa Village in January.
“We hope everybody in this area does well,” Mike said.
As they wait for final inspections, the Barlowes are busy setting the menu for their restaurant.
Kim said breakfast will include traditional morning favorites, such as bacon, eggs and biscuits, but with a twist, like steak tips eggs benedict, crab cakes benedict and crepes.
The lunch and dinner menu will feature barbecue, smoked meats, smoked salmon and a prime rib special, as well as burgers and wraps.
“We have so many good things, we’re having to narrow it down,” Mike said.
The building has been spruced up, with new black-and-white hexagon tile floors, a shiny black bar top and fresh paint.
Architectural features from the long-gone Brevard Hotel still hold places of honor in the dining area: the grand arched windows, a mantle and doors turned on their sides to form the bar.
Aleck Greenwood, who owns the building, also pulled brass lanterns from the hotel out of storage and hung them behind the bar along with a couple of French horns.
“Aleck has put a lot of work in here,” Mike said.
There’s a stage at the north end of the room, with trumpets, trombones, guitars, banjos and saxophones hanging above it, a nod to the bands that soon will perform there.
Most of the work is finished inside, as well as a refresh of the outdoor seating in the front and back of the building. The Barlowes are ready to go as soon as they get licensing and permits.
The restaurant will seat about 150, and they plan to hire 20 to 30 people.
“Hiring definitely is difficult,” Mike said, but the new place will use the same point-of-sale system as the Old Florida Fish Grill, so they’ve started training Murdock’s employees at the Port St. John restaurant so they’ll be ready to go in Cocoa when the time comes.
“We are very excited, and can’t wait to be in this area,” Kim said. “We hope the community loves us as much as we love being here.”