As soon as word circulated that St. Charles Exchange, 113 S. Seventh St., was folding, speculation began about how that prime downtown space would be used next. F&D has gotten word that Fernando Martinez has signed a lease and will open a downtown iteration of his very popular Mussel & Burger Bar as soon as he can make the minor renovations.

DD2_5685_1Martinez has been making a fine career of letting others expend their capital in creating the restaurant infrastructure, which he then takes over when the space becomes vacant. He has re-imagined an Appleby’s off Hurstbourne as Guaca Mole; the short-lived Perusa Café moldered until Martinez started Mussel & Burger Bar there; and El Taco Luchador had a checkered history, including a short stint as a noodle and dumpling concept from Ed Lee, and brief life as L’il Cheezers.

“I got a good deal on the space,” Martinez said in a phone interview. “It is a beautiful space.  A little bit of paint, a few decorations, and we will get it ready for opening in about six weeks. There is not much to it.” Future plans include building an outdoor bar in the large interior courtyard between buildings outside, equipping it with outdoor lounge furniture and voila! by next summer it will be a party lounge with live music.

“We’ll be upgrading the menu,” Martinez said. We will add a few steaks, and some different appetizers, expand the menu a bit to make it more than just burgers.”