The Market Place
With passion, son Luke takes over from Bonnie Black
By RAY LINVILLE » Photo by Don McKenzie
The friendly face at The Market Place Restaurant is as familiar as it has been for years except now Luke Black is not just a staff member.
Early this year, as the restaurant was celebrating its 40th anniversary of being in business, Black replaced his mother Bonnie as owner.
About the change, he says, “She has been grooming me for the last few years. Although she’s owned it, I’ve managed it for the last five years, heavily for the last three.”
Handing over the keys to Luke has been a mixed reaction for Bonnie. “I had the restaurant before I had the boys” (Luke and his two brothers, Jed and Eli), she says.
“All the boys pitched in the business, but Luke has stayed. He has the crazy restaurant and food ‘bug’ like I had when I was 18. I’m passing the baton. He and I will just trade places. The more he has wanted to work, the less I have. I’ve taken more days off in the last two years than in the previous 28!” she declares.
What changes can the loyal following of customers expect?
“Nothing is changing,” says Luke. “My motto is, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ I might add a special salad or soup of the day, but I won’t take anything off the menu.”
All the activities – from operating the food truck at events sponsored by the Village of Pinehurst to catering receptions, wedding rehearsals, parties and other special events – will also continue without any change.
Another tradition being continued occurs on Valentine’s Day. “We always make a red velvet cake for that day,” says Luke. “If someone comes with their Valentine or significant other, they’ll receive a free serving.”
Even before Bonnie bought the restaurant in 2004, her life had been “hospitality-oriented” for years.
“I’ve served Moore County for more than 40 years,” she says. “I want to thank everyone for letting me serve them all these years. I’m very grateful, and I hope everyone will be as gracious to Luke as they have been to me.”
About his mother’s future role in the restaurant, Luke adds, “She’ll still help with wedding and rehearsal dinners, and if she wants to make a homemade dessert or soup, I guess I’ll hire her.”
“It’s been an easy transition,” Bonnie says. “Luke has always showed an interest in owning the restaurant. An owner needs to have a spark of passion, and he does. He loves people, and they love him.”
She even credits Luke with several recent innovations, such as how he developed an app for customers to order online as well as how he uses Instagram, Facebook, and other social media tools to market the restaurant.
Family contributions have obviously been important to the restaurant’s success. The best news for everyone is that Luke’s grandmother will keep making the famous apple pies.
Located at 246 Olmsted Blvd in Pinehurst, The Market Place opens at 8:30 am. Monday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch.