Original Peking Palace matchbook (courtesy of Robert McEwen)
The Blue Marlin opened on East Blvd in the Dilworth neighborhood in 1993. It occupied a building that served as a former location of the Ranch House, the Peking Palace (throughout the 1970's), and (throughout the 1980's) the Sunset Bar & Grill. Owner Bill Dukes had started a buzz in 1987 when he opened Charlotte's first Texas-style steakhouse (the Longhorn on Morehead St) and with the opening of the Blue Marlin, he again would have one of the most talked about Charlotte eateries.
The Blue Marlin was noted for both its food and its ambience--both striking in early-90's Charlotte dining. The restaurant featured dark mahogany leather booths, dark wood paneling, and retro light fixtures. The goal was for a 1940's, Sinatra-era vibe and the bar and dining room were the talk of the town. The menu emphasized SC coastal recipes and Lowcountry menu items. From grilled seafood, to shrimp and grits (the first place in Charlotte to serve this dish), to collard greens, the Blue Marlin was instantly popular.
The Blue Marlin would operate until September 2001. Over the course of its run, Bill Dukes would open three other locations in town. The Dilworth location was important because it helped spark a revitalization of the East Blvd "restaurant row" that continues to this day.