Tony Massenburg, the ‚ÄúTony‚ÄĚ of Tony and James, is still in charge but has parted ways with his former partner James Lloyd, ‚Äúfor a lot of reasons,‚ÄĚ said 44‚Äôs Vice President Lanie Nikes. ‚ÄúThere was a lot of mismanagement since they opened Tony and James, and Tony felt it was best to move forward on his own.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThe name really got slung through the mud,‚ÄĚ added Nikes. ‚ÄúTony has always had a good reputation, so this hasn‚Äôt been fun for him.‚ÄĚ
Nikes said that 44 will be a sports bar, ‚Äúbut not just wings and beer. You can get good quality food. There‚Äôs a healthier outlook, good variety, yet still a sports bar.‚ÄĚ
The large upstairs space, which has always seemed tricky for previous owners, will be put to good use, said Nikes. They plan to use it for kids‚Äô and corporate events and parties, and as a general gathering area in the restaurant. Nikes promises that 44 will be more family-friendly than the locations in the past.
‚ÄúThe assumption is that the cops are always there. It‚Äôs exactly the opposite,‚ÄĚ he said.
They are currently hiring an entirely new staff — jobs for new servers, host/hostess, cooks, and managers are posted on craigslist.
‚ÄúWe are examining, ‚ÄėWhat went wrong? Why was the service so bad? Why did the food go downhill? What happened there?‚Äô We are taking the criticism and are trying our best to change that. Tony wants to really do a better job for the neighborhood and the community moving forward,‚ÄĚ said Nikes.
Massenburg, who played basketball for the University of Maryland and several NBA teams, has already added his own personal touch in his choice of a name the new restaurant. He wore the number 44 and now wants to highlight some of the great athletes who wear or have worn that number, including Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson, Jerry West and, of course, NFL Hall of Famer John Riggins.
As for Massenburg‚Äôs role, ‚ÄúTony will take a more hands-on approach this time. He‚Äôs dedicated to improvement,‚ÄĚ said Nikes. ‚Äú44 will be whatever the community needs. We are going to do everything we can to cater to the neighborhood. We want to know the community better. We want people to be regulars.‚ÄĚ