It’s as simple a story as The Berenstain Bears’ “Old Hat, New Hat.” A man goes into a hat store looking for a new hat. He tries on dozens of them, eventually returning to the one he wore into the shop. “Now this is the perfect hat!” he proclaims while walking out, leaving the salesman bewildered and confused.
You might say the same thing happened with the beloved Belknap neighborhood bar, Dundee Tavern.
In late 2014, about a year after the tragic death of its owner, Terri Wilhelm Detenber, Detenber’s daughter Brittany Metten decided to sell the restaurant, as she was struggling to manage it and work a full-time job. She sold it to local restaurant industry workers Susan Conway and Chris Ross, both of The Bristol, who intended to keep its neighborhood bar feel while sprucing up the menu.
Thus came the Dundee Gastropub, which brought in both regulars and foodies curious of new menu items, like truffle fries, goat cheese lollipops, and chicken and waffles. Conway and Ross decided to move away from the standard pub grub and opt for fancier dishes.
Some of Dundee’s regulars who came to watch Cards football and basketball were disappointed with the new menu — not because they were turned off by the new items, they just missed a few of the standard tavern dishes, like nachos and cheese balls. But business stayed steady.
However, just before the first of the year, Ross opted out of the business, leaving Conway with full ownership. She struggled with managing the restaurant and raising young children, and she realized she couldn’t do it on her own.
That’s when Dundee regular Alan Hincks stepped in, and he’s officially purchasing the business from Conway today, Sept. 30. Conway tells Insider she’s leaving Dundee in good hands, and she’s planning on staying around a week or two to help Hincks with the transition.
Insider met up with Hincks to find out his plans for this beloved neighborhood bar. His first order of business, he says, is returning it to Dundee Tavern — both in name and menu.
Hincks lives in the Belknap neighborhood and was a good friend of Detenber. He says he talked with her often about the possibility of taking over the business some day, and he has years of restaurant experience — working for and managing places like Captain’s Quarters, O’Charley’s and the now-defunct Browning’s (where Against the Grain now resides).
Hincks will step in as owner starting Saturday, Oct. 1, and his wife Paige, who works at UPS, will help out when needed. He says some of the former staff who departed are coming back, including the head cook, and he’s already met with the kitchen staff to restore the old Dundee Tavern menu.
Dundee will be closed Monday through Thursday, Oct. 3-6, so he and his team can successfully make the transition from Gastropub to Tavern, and he promises to be open just in time for the 22nd annual Belknap Fall Festival next weekend, Oct. 7-8, although he might have to offer a limited menu until everything gets switched over.
Hincks wants to “bring it back to what it was,” he says, and that includes more of a focus on sports, beer specials and a lively atmosphere. He plans on offering the NFL Ticket on Sundays and will continue to toe the line of a family-friendly restaurant and neighborhood sports bar, the latter of which is needed in that part of the Highlands.
Thankfully, the Dundee Dip, the restaurant’s most popular menu item, has remained intact and will continue to be served. “You don’t mess with the dip,” he jokes.
Hincks hopes that by restoring it to Dundee Tavern, it honors Detenber’s legacy. “Above all else, I want to make her proud,” he says, pointing to a photo of Detenber that hangs above her favorite seat at the bar.