The Lamar Lounge has closed its doors for the last time… sort of. They will reopen next Monday under the new name Fat Eddie’s – Lamar Lounge, a traditional Italian “red sauce” style restaurant.
Chef John Currence, owner of famed restaurants such as City Grocery and Big Bad Breakfast (BBB), took the restaurant over in 2013, made small changes and refreshed the menu. Currence received some pushback from the community upon taking the lounge over, with people worried it would become “gentrified.” Currence assured customers that wouldn’t be the case, making minimal changes with the most significant one being adding barbecue to the menu. Currence noted that the changes they made were all in the interest of delivering a better product, but it just never grew like they thought it would.
“When I got here the menu was pretty much just a burger, chicken sandwich, a salad and a few other things. What we tried to do was just give people a few more options, but we struggled from the very beginning with getting people to trust us, and the demand for barbecue just isn’t there,” Currence said. “We did everything we could with Lamar Lounge, and it just wasn’t working, so we felt that we had to make a change. We decided to shut down, completely retool and do something that people have always told me that we’re missing in Oxford: an old school style Italian restaurant.”
Currence is excited about the opportunity to hit the reset button and begin a new chapter for the Lamar Lounge, with a renewed focus on quality food and service. With such a quick turnaround, he noted that Fat Eddie’s will start with a simple menu and expand as they grow.
“As we grow along with our customers, we look forward to hearing our customers say ‘Man, I wish you guys had a toasted ravioli,’ and then we’ll jump into it and figure out how to make it in a way that makes it unique and something that they’ve never had before,” Currence said. “This type of food hits people in that ‘comfort food’ way, and I’m really looking forward to having my hands in the food, the training and the possibilities for the whole restaurant.”
While the whole menu hasn’t been officially released, there is one dish that Currence is most excited about for Fat Eddie’s to feature: a smothered meatball slider appetizer, with a garlic bread bun, covered in provolone cheese and their housemade marinara sauce.
The name Fat Eddie’s is derived from Eddie Fisher, who was married to Elizabeth Taylor in the early ’60s and owned the bar for a period of time. After kicking around names like “Eddie’s” and “Mr. Eddie’s,” Currency heard “Fat Eddie’s” as a suggestion and knew that had to be the name.
The Lamar Lounge’s best seller, the burger, will remain on the menu along with an “Italian sibling,” the pizza burger, according to Currence. The hours for Fat Eddie’s will be Monday-Thursday from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. The plan is to eventually open for lunch, and Sundays are still in question at this point.
Currence first started City Grocery in 1992 and has since acquired six other restaurants in Oxford. He isn’t worried about the critics who are tired of him opening new restaurants; instead, he is solely focused on the customers.
“When I open a restaurant, I’m essentially making a promise to the community and the customers,” Currency said. “Whether or not there’s that segment of people out there who are tired of me opening restaurants or just tired of me in general, that’s not going to stop me from trying to deliver the best product I can and fulfilling my promise.”
For more information about all of Chef John Currence’s restaurants, click here.
Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.