When did each restaurant open its doors?
My daughter Megan and I opened Madeleine’s in the summer of 2007. The concept, a French café and pâtisserie, came about as Meg attended French pastry school. We celebrated our 10-year anniversary last summer and are grateful we’ve made so many friends along the way.
Open for six years now, Casper Fry was conceived out of a desire to do more, to keep challenging ourselves and design a concept unlike other restaurants in Spokane, at the time. We love the process and are committed to building happy gathering places that bring people together through food.
Durkin’s opened in 2014. The location is rich with history, and after taking a look at it and doing our homework, we knew that Durkin’s Liquor Bar was just begging to be built. Again, we felt the tug of the challenge and were truly all about building a space so upbeat and big-city that when guests walked through the doors they’d feel they’d been transported to New York City.
What was the inspiration behind each?
We were inspired by our favorite bakeries in Paris and other cities. The name Madeleine was Meg’s French name in high school. Eleven years ago, there were very few bakeries in Spokane, and none downtown, so there was a lot of local anticipation as we prepared to open our doors.
With a historic family tie to the South Perry neighborhood, it just seemed right to build a Southern-inspired restaurant paying homage to Casper Fry, my great grandfather, a Southern-born Baptist minister. My mother can spend hours recounting childhood stories of time spent with this friendly, gentle man. Our journey was visceral, and it became important that we honor him by building a restaurant named for him that would be a place where guests were treated neighborly and greeted with Southern hospitality. My son Ben’s contribution to every aspect of building and running this restaurant has been priceless.
Jimmy Durkin was a local liquor tycoon during the turn of the century and an honest-to-goodness local legend. He owned Durkin’s Liquor Company and three bars downtown; coincidentally, one in our exact location. During prohibition, what is now our basement bar was a private Speakeasy or “card room” for guests in the know. When we decided to build Durkin’s Liquor Bar, we really wanted it to be a place that was fun—a swank upscale diner and bar, a vibrant, positive energy, easy-to-understand food, knowledgeable staff and natty interior. We’re very detail oriented and dedicated ourselves to creating and curating a hip but vintage vibe and making sure even the tiniest of details were accounted for.
What is your favorite aspect of each?
Madeleine’s has steadfastly withstood the test of time. My son calls her “the mother ship.” Without Madeleine’s, we would never have had the courage or ambition to create and build the other two.
Casper Fry has a special place in my heart. For me, it’s the one most about family. Built for and about family, and as a place for any family to gather, it just feels like home. When it’s full of happy, chattering guests dining on shrimp and grits and drinking whiskey, it always has—and always will—feel like magic to me.
At Durkin’s it’s a busy, loud Friday night when the hip-hop is blaring from the speakers in the dining room, guests are trying interesting food, excited by the cocktails, and the basement bar is full to overflowing with young energetic people. The place is just plain cool. It’s exactly what we built it to be.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your family of restaurants?
I’m quite proud of the number of jobs we’ve created and that our restaurants support other local businesses, but mostly I’m proud of my kids.
When it comes to the success of all three, what do you attribute it to?
Without a doubt, family. We wouldn’t be here doing this if we weren’t doing it together. We’re fortunate to have staff who invest in us, and we feel blessed to be here. The restaurants were built with intent and purpose, and we’re humbled that Spokane has been gracious enough to understand that and reward us with their support.
Madeleine’s Cafe & Patisserie Downtown Spokane 415 W. Main Ave. 509.624.2253
Casper Fry South Hill Spokane 928 S. Perry St. 509.535.0536 CasperFry.com
Durkin’s Liquor Bar Downtown Spokane 416 W. Main Avenue 509.863.9501 DurkinsLiquorBar.com