Maxine’s Tap Room to reopen Monday, April 1

One of several absinthe fountains stands near the edge of the newly recovered copper bar inside Maxine’s Tap Room on Thursday. The fountains are used to deliver a drizzle of ice-cold water into a glass of absinthe, a process that dilutes the alcohol-rich drink and liberates the liquor’s herbal ingredients.

Photos: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

After about a month-long hiatus, one of Fayetteville’s oldest bars will soon be up and running again on Block Avenue.

Maxine’s Tap Room, originally opened in 1950 by the late Maxine Miller, will reopen on Monday, April 1 under the new management of local business owners Rebekah Champagne (Terra Tots), Matt Champagne (Hammer And Chisel), and Ben Gitchel and Hannah Withers (Little Bread Co.).

The friends, who already own and operate businesses on Block Avenue, said that a combination of their love of “Block Street,” and the opportunity to build upon the history of an iconic business like Maxine’s was too good to pass up.

Jacqueline Shin and Ben Gitchel work to ready the bar for the upcoming reopening.

“We love this street, and we’re already invested in the neighborhood,” Rebekah Champagne told us last month. “We can’t wait to help build the night life on Block Avenue.”

The bar has received quite a facelift over the last 30 days. Work included several improvements like repositioning the front door, removing the drop ceilings, recovering the bar with copper, and remodeling the bathrooms.

“We feel like we’ve changed the atmosphere considerably, but it’s in the same stroke,” Withers said. “We have also embraced the history of Maxine’s and the history of Block Street with the atmosphere and the decor. We kept the deer head that’s been here forever, Maxine’s stool is mounted on the wall, we found some old photos that we’re going to hang up that go back over 65 years.”

The focus of the new Maxine’s has evolved a bit, too.

“It has been mostly a beer bar, but we are going to focus more on liquor,” said Withers. “We’ll serve vintage cocktails from the 1950’s – the Moscow Mule in a copper glass is one of my favorites – and others from era when Maxine’s was originally opened. We’ll also serve absinthe, which not a lot of bars around here are doing.”

Co-owner Hannah Withers looks through old photos of Maxine’s Tap Room and founder Maxine Miller.

Withers said she plans to carry as many locally-brewed beers as possible using the bar’s 18 available taps, and will still offer a wide variety of domestics and imported bottled beers as well.

Also new to Maxine’s will be gourmet flavored popcorns and other savory snacks made by Little Bread Co. chef Ben Gitchel.

Entertainment-wise, the bar may host occasional live music, but the main focus will be on creating an atmosphere conducive to conversation. “I know when we go out, that’s one of the things we’re looking for,” said Withers. “For us, going to a bar is all about socializing, and that’s what we want to create here.”

Throughout the process, the partners say they can’t help but wonder what Maxine would think of the updates.

“We’re trying to make these changes respectfully,” said Withers. “As a shrewd business woman, I think Maxine would understand that Fayetteville has changed, and Maxine’s will have to change with it to survive. Still, we find ourselves asking each other, ‘I wonder if Maxine would approve of this.’ We think she’d be proud of what we’ve done to the place.”

Maxine’s will officially reopen at 4 p.m. on Monday, April 1. After that, the bar will be open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

A few more photos