Ladies and gentlemen of the SouthCoast, the time has finally come to announce the return of Darwin, the Freestones monkey.

When word came from Howie Mallowes (owner of New Bedford's Freestones City Grill and Carmine's at Candleworks, and the new Profile Tavern in Freetown, among other local spots), it was a sure sign that the summer of 2022 was going to be great.

"We're looking to get Freestones in downtown New Bedford opened toward mid-summer," Mallowes said.

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Mallowes said his team is taking care of "quite a bit of interior renovations" at the William Street restaurant, and a familiar presence is slated to return: Debby Seguin, head of hospitality for all of Mallowes' locations.

Seguin is most certainly a familiar face in the SouthCoast as she and her husband are known for their restoration of the historic building back in September of 1978. After months of rehabbing the architectural gem, Freestones was born.

Mallowes called the addition of Seguin "exciting news."

Seguin seems excited, too.

"It's nice to be back," she said. "I've run into some great people, I've been really low-key, but it's nice to be back and working between the restaurants in the downtown historic district."

Seguin is looking forward to ensuring comfort, style and superb customer support at the restaurant -- "bringing back the atmosphere and the genuine hospitality and the uniqueness of Freestones to the downtown," she said.

Seguin said Freestones was the "first upscale-casual-dining restaurant restoration" in the district back in 1979.

As for Darwin the Monkey, a staple of Freestones City Grill who watched over customers while dangling above the bar, it's safe to say that you'll be seeing a lot of him.

Darwin, who took a tumble a whole back, was restored by students from Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School.

"The monkey's back," Seguin confirmed. "He'll be hanging in a different location in the restaurant, but he's back and has been part of that restaurant for 41 years and will continue to do so. We bought him at Sergio Bustamante's gallery in Faneuil Hall and he was the second piece of art that we bought."

Now, I won't give away too much, but be prepared to have your mind blown once Freestones reopens. It has to do with their signature Syrian nachos.

Stay tuned, support small businesses and keep it local, folks.

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