Well, the restaurant growth in the Louisville area continues apace. Since the last issue in August, Food & Dining this issue is adding 33 new restaurants to its listings, a dozen of which are additional outlets of existing businesses. Only 15 restaurants have closed, or have announced that they will do so; three of those closings are businesses that are folding one of multiple locations. So, polish up those charge cards and get ready to try some new dining spots.
Two businesses took over existing restaurant spaces and rather quickly made them over to suit new themes. Dallas McGarity’s new venture, The Fat Lamb, rapidly appropriated the space at 2011 Grinstead Dr. that had all-too-briefly been Fontleroy’s. McGarity’s rich experience at Volare, Z’s Fusion and most recently at Marketplace at Theater Square informs his contemporary bistro fare, focusing on Italian inspiration for small plates of Southern comfort foods.
It took only a couple of months for TV food personality Guy Fieri’s organization to flip Sully’s in 4th Street Live! into Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse, a barbecue-joint-cum-entertainment-venue serving up the kind of extravagant chow that draws in conventioneers and 4th Street Live! partiers.
Also open now out in the suburbs are Blue Bull Burgers & Tacos at 2420 Lime Kiln Ln.; The Block Gourmet Deli in Middletown at 14041 Shelbyville Rd.; Hibachi Buffet, 5372 Dixie Hwy.; and Latin Café, 6334 W. Hwy. 146 in Crestwood.
Closer in to town, Southern Express, a soul-food restaurant at 418 W. Oak St., serves homey comfort dishes at rock-bottom prices. Scarlet’s Bakery has set up shop in Shelby Park, creating cakes, cookies, muffins, brownies and other baked goods at 741 E. Oak St. Safari Grill, serving African and Mediterranean fare at 328 W. Woodlawn Ave., replaces Yoli’s Cafeteria in Beechmont’s restaurant row. And downtown, PokeHana brings the Hawaiian-style seafood salad and rice bowls to the lunch crowd at 436 W. Market St., where Chop Shop Salads used to be. The Manhattan Project, a bar and gastropub in the space behind Nancy’s Bagel Grounds at 2101 Frankfort Ave., opened its doors to good crowds on Nov. 5.
A number of new eating places have sprung up on the Sunny Side, across the river. Café 157 serves breakfast, lunch and dinner at 157 E. Main St. in New Albany. Also in New Albany are Kim & Bab, serving Korean and other Asian dishes at 3012 Charlestown Crossing Way, and The Rice Bowl, serving Japanese and Korean food at 3114 Grant Line Rd.
In Clarksville, Rails Craft Brew & Eatery has set up in the historic building that most recently was Sam’s at the Montrose, 318 W. Lewis and Clark Pkwy. And in Jeffersonville, Portage House is now serving at 117 E. Riverside Dr.
Not yet officially open, but on the near horizon, are several ambitious projects. Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint is renovating a former golf-course clubhouse into a Tennessee-style whole hog barbecue restaurant that will feature a wood-fired cooking pit in the center of the restaurant. It will open in mid-November at 3408 Indian Lake Dr.
Yet another barbecue place, Jay’s BBQ, is looking to open before Thanksgiving, not perhaps as big as Martin’s, but with a focused intention. Jay Shreve, long associated with Porcini, has taken over the nostalgia-laden D. Nalley’s building at 970 S. Third St., intending to preserve the 1950s-era diner interior, update the mechanicals while maintaining the time-forgotten ambiance, and smoke righteous barbecue in the parking lot, served with sides prepared with care and affection.
Also on tap to open soon are The Eagle, a Cincinnati-based chicken restaurant that has been assiduously renovating the former El Camino space at 1314 Bardstown Rd.; and Pearl Street Taphouse, at 407 Pearl St. in Jeffersonville.
A dozen businesses, some locally owned and some connected to regional or national chains, have expanded in the area, opening additional outlets. The more notable local players include CraftHouse, which has added an expansive Germantown location, 1030 Goss Ave., to its original Crescent Hill operation. Both sites serve only locally brewed craft beer from a variety of breweries, and offer upscale pub grub. When Comfy Cow opens its airport location soon, it will have seven area locations scooping up its premium ice creams, and its next-door airport neighbor, Coals Artisan Pizza, will add its third Louisville shop.
The listings have just caught up with East End deli and caterer Gracious Plenty, which has had a sit-down eating space at 2900 Brownsboro Rd. for a few months now. El Nopal’s empire has swelled to 21 locations with the opening of an outlet at 962 Baxter Ave., where most recently America. The Diner. had a brief run.
Turning to the chains, Five Guys Burgers added a fifth store in Middletown Commons, 13303 Shelbyville Rd., and Smashburger is opening its third location at the airport. There are now 7 Zaxby’s, the latest in Jeffersonville at 5430 E. Hwy. 62. Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza has fire’d up its third superhot oven at 4055 Summit Plaza Dr. in the East End. Jet’s Pizza has two new locations, at 2500 Bardstown Rd. and 10494 Westport Rd., bringing its total to six. The Panda Express store at 10600 Westport Rd. is the fourth in the area, and Gustavo’s Mexican Grill now has three locations, the latest at 6051 Timber Ridge Dr.
Of the dozen stand alone restaurants that have closed, over half are notable for longevity, association with recognized restaurateurs,
or for unexpected stumbles.
Three of these had decidedly short runs. After sinking up to a reported $3 million into renovating the old Tumbleweed property at 1201 River Rd. into Doc’s Cantina, and finding more structural issues the further they progressed, Falls City Hospitality Group opened their version of a Tex-Mex restaurant to much hoopla and much less success. Admitting that the food and service aspect of their newest venture was not well managed, FCHG’s four partners closed Doc’s Cantina barely six months after opening, pledging to rethink their concept and to reopen with a different focus before the end of 2016.
Fontleroy’s, too, came on the scene with lots of high expectations. After a solidly promising opening stretch, operational problems cropped up, founding Chef Allan Rosenberg left for other ventures and the owner threw in the towel after a year. Dallas McGarity has snatched up the space at 2011 Grinstead Dr. for his new The Fat Lamb.
Dustin Staggers’ explosive entrance to the Louisville restaurant scene (Rumplings, Epic Sammich Co., America. The Diner.) has fizzled out with the sudden closing of Roux, his Highlands New Orleans-Style Cajun restaurant at 1325 Bardstown Rd. And Matt Davis, another energetic restaurant creator (Lil Cheezers) found myriad problems in trying to run a deli in Old Louisville, and has closed Slice at 1161 S. Second St.
The inimitable Eric Gould has closed Smoketown USA, a pioneer in the Smoketown-Shelby Park revival, after almost a decade of honest barbecue, appealing side dishes and highly eclectic decor at 1153 Logan St.
And one of the elder statesman of the Louisville restaurant world, Majid Ghavami, has announced his retirement and will close his eponymous restaurant, Majid’s, 3930 Chenoweth Square, on November 19.
In a late closing announcement, Bearno’s Pizza has closed the Highlands branch, at 1318 Bardstown Rd., a mainstay for 15 years for eclectic entertainment and as a gathering point for many Highlands-related celebrations. There are 11 Bearno’s locations remaining in the Louisville metro area.
Other restaurant closings include Texican’s BBQ Pit, 6608 Hwy. 46 in Crestwood; Coqui’s Café, 147 E. Market St. in New Albany; Big C’s Lunch & Lounge, 2319 Brownsboro Rd.; Marric’s Restaurant, 8402 Hudson Ln.; Mount Everest View, 4109 Bardstown Rd.; and Papalino’s Italian Pub, 3598 Springhurst Blvd.
Two chains have each closed one local branch. Applebee’s has shuttered the store at 1905 S. Hurstbourne Ln. (six remain), and the Logan’s Roadhouse at 5505 Shelbyville Rd. has closed, leaving three local locations. Danny Mac’s Pasta & Pizza has closed the Germantown location at 1567 S. Shelby St., but is still baking pies at the Mellwood Arts Center.
Finally, the Bootleg Barbecue franchise at 7508 Preston Hwy. has severed its association with the parent company and has reconstituted itself as Holy Smokes Bar-B-Que. Dundee Gastropub has changed hands, and the new owners have changed the name of the business back to Dundee Tavern. It remains at 2224 Dundee Rd. F&D