"Hampden is the hot neighborhood and this is the largest building in the neighborhood," he said.
Flowers and kegs
But his focus is on reopening and expanding David's into the old train store. He rents both of the retail spaces from Caribbean Products, which owns the building on Falls Road.
Nine months after the restaurant closed, the walls are repainted from a gray-white to a sunny yellow, and a local artist, Larry Schlechter was painting a mural on Friday of local landmarks, such as the London Fog factory of old.
Otherwise, David's looks pretty much as it did before his wife died, as if taken out of mothballs.
Flowers sit in vases on its 10 wooden tables. Ceiling fans and the long lunch counter are still there, as are figurines, old greeting cards and other tchotchkes in the window. What sounds like a knock at the front door is the familiar green awning flapping in the wind. A framed painting hangs by the door, on a part of the wall that he plans to knock through into the Train and Toy World space.
That space is a clutter, except for an imposing curved wooden bar that Morgan has already moved in. He is also installing a five-keg tap system, he said.
Morgan said he plans to jazz up the menu, with a few dinner entrees and a special crab soup, made by a local chef who plans to sell it online. He also plans to make the eatery a showcase for local artwork and photography.
Morgan hopes to draw customers from the eclectic mix of businesses around him, including Hampden Christian School, 7-Eleven, Doubledutch Boutique, Atomic Books, a Cricket phone store and a methadone clinic.
"I think it's a terrific mix," he said.
And he's not worried about getting customers from the methadone clinic on the same block. If they panhandle or cause trouble, he's prepared to take action.
"They don't know me," he warned, adding that he's spoken with a manager of the clinic about his plans to reopen the restaurant.
Ray, the merchants' association president and owner of Atomic Books next to David's, said he would like an eatery again on his end of The Avenue. An empty storefront does the neighborhood no good, Ray said.
"The longer that restaurant sits dormant, the more it hurts (area) businesses," Ray said.
He noted that some people have been stopping into his book and comics store, asking if David's is reopening, or if the space is for rent.
Ray also said he would welcome a more vibrant menu at David's.
Morgan, a longtime Hampdenite who has 14 siblings and whose father was a steel mill worker, thinks of David's as having the soul of a diner.
"My place is like a stainless steel eatery like you see on Route 50," he said.
He wants David's to succeed so he can leave it to his children.
"It's all about your kids and your grandchildren," he said.
But at the least, he said, it will be "a place to hang out with my buddies until God takes me off this earth."