NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Michael Southwell and his brothers have a vision: To take the reins of an iconic New Rochelle restaurant and breathe new life into the business, while at the same time remaining true to the eatery’s longtime roots.
Southwell and his brothers Rudolph and Sean purchased the popular Dudley’s Parkview Restaurant and marina, located at 94 Hudson Park Rd., earlier this year; the business has been a mainstay in the area since 1920 and, according to lohud.com, was even the setting for “City on a Hill,” a Showtime series starring Kevin Bacon.
Speaking with Patch, owner Michael Southwell said the goal has been to hold on to the restaurant’s deep legacy; staff members who have been working at Dudley’s for 25 to 30 years have stayed on — as has the business’ former owner Electra Davis and members of the family, to ensure a smooth transition.
But along with longtime traditions, the Southwells hope to infuse Dudley’s with new ideas and plans, including a Toys for Tots fundraiser comedy benefit show slated to take place on Thursday at 8 p.m. The show features headliner Richie Byrne, along with Melissa Diaz, and is hosted by Buddy Harris.
Doors open at 7 p.m.; the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $10 in advance with an unwrapped toy, or $15 at the door with an unwrapped toy. Without a toy, tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. In addition, TK’s Toy Box is matching both money and toys raised at the event for Toys for Tots.
To purchase tickets, click here.
Dudley’s, Southwell said, has held an important place in the hearts of its clientele for decades, the setting for milestone moments including engagements, weddings, political gatherings, anniversaries, and fundraisers. “It’s a place for memory-making,” he said.
With a seamless transition in ownership first and foremost a priority, so far, the menu has stayed the same; down the line, Southwell said a Cajun seafood boil may be introduced. He and his brothers also own the award-winning Roc-N-Ramen in New Rochelle, which specializes in Japanese Caribbean fusion fare, and highlights menu items including oxtail or jerk chicken ramen, a nod to mouthwatering dishes prepared by their mother, who hails from the West Indies. “That brings it home for us,” Southwell said.
The Roc-N-Ramen concept is so popular that plans are in place to franchise the business, he said.
One thing all three brothers share is a love for lifetime memories made in their mother’s kitchen. “She definitely has a passion for cooking,” Southwell said. “People absolutely love her food. We have a religious background — and food is kind of like her ministry, her calling. We all just love her cooking.”
As for Dudley’s Parkview, Southwell said he and his brothers hope to make the restaurant a family friendly destination, one that caters to everyone, young and old.
Working with his brothers is a joy, he said. “It’s almost like we’re not working.” While he’s focused more on the administrative end, his brothers Rudy and Sean partnered in an IHOP franchise; Sean is a chef and Rudy, he said, has a background in real estate.
Southwell said owning Dudley’s holds deep meaning for him and his brothers. “It’s definitely exciting. We are on the Long Island Sound, not to mention that we are minorities, owning a restaurant and marina on the water. It’s a blessing, in more ways than one.”
And what’s equally thrilling, he said, is to take the helm at Dudley’s, a restaurant that has meant so much to the community for almost a hundred years, and to help shepherd the business into its next incarnation. He’s happy that the previous owners, including Davis — the family “matriarch,” she is in her 80s and still works at the restaurant — remain woven into the fabric of the business. “They are all still involved,” he said. “They’re awesome people.”
Looking ahead, Southwell and his brothers are energized and filled with new ideas for Dudley’s. While the restaurant has long offered rock bands and heavy metal music, he felt it would be a good idea to branch out and start presenting a wide range of live entertainment, including R&B, Motown, jazz, and reggae, as well as events such as karaoke nights.
And, too, Southwell thought comedy would be a good addition to the lineup.
When he saw comedian Richie Byrne doing warmup at the “Dr. Oz Show,” he knew he’d found his headliner. “A friend of mine invited me to ‘The Dr. Oz Show’ about five years ago,” Southwell said. “I was blown away by his comedy. This was when I was really just involved in the restaurant business but for some reason I said, ‘I think I’m going to see this guy again.’ He was just hilarious. Fast forward to this summer when we started talking about doing comedy. I said, ‘I think I have somebody.'”
But it was a dream that almost didn’t come to fruition — all because of a Facebook faux pas.
“I didn’t have a contact number so sent I him a message on Facebook, but he never answered,” Southwell said. “I left it alone for a little while, then later, I did an in-depth search and found his manager, Joel Richardson, owner and founder of Soul Joel productions. “I called him and said I would love to get Richie to come and do comedy.”
When they all met up at Dudley’s this past summer, they shared a good laugh over Byrne’s Facebook snafu. “I said, ‘You’re here now, that’s what matters,'” Southwell said. “He’s a phenomenal comic. To have Richie Byrne as our headliner is an absolute dream come true for me.”
Byrne, who has been entertaining audiences at “The Dr. Oz Show” for more than a decade, sports A-list credits including Dangerfield’s, Caroline’s on Broadway, the Gotham Comedy Club, Carnegie Hall, and Radio City Music Hall in New York City and nationwide. Comedy TV credits include Comedy Central, VH1, “The Rosie O’Donnell Show”, “Good Day New York” and “Gotham Live” on AXS-TV; he’s also done warm up for “The Rachael Ray Show”, “The Chew”, the “Miss America Pageant” and more.
Byrne has appeared on “Sex and the City,” “The Sopranos,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” and “Conviction,” as well as the feature film “Good-bye Baby”; he also created a popular variety series, “The Richie Byrne Show.”
And now, Byrne is excited to bring his talents to New Rochelle. “Being pursued so hard by Michael and having no idea how hard he was pursuing me, because I stink at Facebook” — he laughed — “but then, getting to meet them and see what they are trying to make happen in the New Rochelle community . . . I couldn’t help but want to be a part of it.”
And, he said, benefiting Toys for Tots at Christmastime made the show even more meaningful.
Of Dudley’s, Byrne said: “I’m excited about the ideas that they are bringing to the restaurant and excited to work with them to make comedy part of their vision. I love the energy that they’re bringing to New Rochelle and I’m happy to be involved in some small way.”
Richardson agreed. When Southwell reached out, he said, “it was a no brainer. My business model over the past 12 years has been to bring comedy local. We bring a strong lineup of comedians you would see in New York City, without having to leave your neighborhood.”
In particular, Richardson said, Southwell had seen Byrne at ‘The Dr. Oz Show’, and wanted to bring him onboard.
“So not only is Richie going to headline the first show, but we hope to turn this into a comedy series, ‘Richie Byrne and Friends,’ every month,” Richardson said.
Because the first comedy show was slated for December, Richardson suggested they involve a charity; of the 200 shows he produces every year, 50 percent benefit a charity, he said. “The owners at Dudley’s work very closely with Toys for Tots, so we decided to pick that organization,” he said.
Toys for Tots, Southwell agreed, is a charity close to the hearts of all involved with Dudley’s, especially important to Davis, and a perfect fit for the evening.
“The Southwells are a great family and Richie and I are looking forward to a long relationship with them, working together to bring comedy to Dudley’s,” Richardson said.
Southwell envisions warm summer nights on the deck, with audiences laughing and enjoying great comedy while overlooking the Sound. “This is just the beginning for great events,” he said.
Asked about his vision for Dudley’s, Southwell said: “I would describe it as a place where families can go during the day, adults can find a very comfortable nightlife in the evening, and a place where everyone can really enjoy themselves on nice Sunday afternoons for Sunday brunch.”
Plans even include School of Rock Mamaroneck, where kids 12 and 13 can come and perform with their bands on Saturday mornings. “We want to cater to all walks of life — to everyone. We want to continue to make Dudley’s a destination,” Southwell said.
Source: Thanks https://patch.com/new-york/newrochelle/new-owners-bring-benefit-comedy-show-iconic-local-restaurant