Local restaurateurs are keeping the dining scene humming, and getting diners’ expectations piqued again. Several established restaurant owners are reported to be considering opening new venues, downtown and in the Highlands, in NuLu and in the ‘burbs. Like most business ventures, we will know for certain when we walk in and look at the menus, but here is the word that is now circulating for future changes in the restaurant world.
Word is circulating that Wasabiya, the Japanese restaurant in Baxter Commons, will close in the next few weeks, to be replaced by Eggs over Baxter.
Wasabiya has had a good run, even though fans report that it was seldom a lively, crowded spot. Now Cortney and Jackson Nave, who operate Eggs Over Frankfort plan to open a Highlands outlet this spring at the Wasabiya space at Baxter Centre, 962 Baxter Ave.
The Naves have filed for a full liquor license for the Highlands location, which will give them an opportunity to offer full-blown weekend brunches, with the expected mimosas and bloody Marys, which they cannot do at the original place on Frankfort Ave. They hope to open by the end of April.
The most recent new restaurant rumor is that Rye’s Michael Trager-Kusman has signed a letter of intent seeking to lease the entire first floor, as well as the back patio, of the Green Building, including the space that was most recently La Coop. No lease has been signed yet, Trager-Kusman said, but his yet-to-be-finalized plans tend toward a restaurant would operate at a lower price point than Rye on Market, in addition to being more heavily bar focussed. If a lease agreement can be reached, Trager-Kusman hopes to be open for business at the Green Building by Derby.
Over in Germantown, the former Flabby’s restaurant will find new life as a breakfast and lunch spot to be called Lydia House. The plans are for breakfast offerings of coffee and “fancy toast,” according to new owner Emily Ruff, explaining that she means good breads topped topped with homemade jams such as clementine marmalade and special spreads. Lunch offerings will include soups, salads and sandwiches. Ruff also plans to serve her homemade kombucha, a fermented tea drink, on tap. She hopes to be open by April.
A little further out from the center, Poppy’s Cafe and Coffee is the new concept from Rob Bailey, who had been running Rob-A-Que barbecue restaurant in that same spot at 4214 Bishop Lane.
Bailey remodeled the store and made the switch after his research showed there were no real quick-service breakfast options in the area. “Our location was not conducive for dinner,” Bailey said, ” and I also felt that a barbecue-only menu did not give enough options for our lunch crowd. After expanding our menu and hours, and changing our name, I think it’s clear what we are offering now.”
For breakfast, Poppy’s offers doughnuts, bagels, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos and Scotch eggs. The lunch menu has soups, salads, deli and hot sandwiches, including Reubens and Hot Browns, as well as pulled pork, pulled chicken and brisket sandwiches, and home made cole slaw and potato salad.
Another new concept from an experienced hand in the food biz will be Boom-a-Go-Go, another new idea from Tony Palombino. The quick to-go pizza option for the lunch crowd will be at the Middletown Commons location of Boombozz Pizza and Taphouse when it opens in April. Middletown Commons is under construction on Shelbyville Road near Interstate 265.
The pizza will be 11 1/2 inches and cost $5 to $7. Customers will be able to get either a personal version of BoomBozz’s signature pizzas or build their own. Boom-a-GoGo will be available only at lunch time. BoomBozz will continue to offer its full-service dining for dinner at the Middletown Commons store.
Further in the future, Bobby Benjamin, chef at the recently closed La Coop, is working with partners to open a restaurant of his own. It is still too early to discuss details, but Benjamin said the restaurant will open this year and will be casual.
And, there is word from perennial restaurant entrepreneur Maria Bell that she is working on opening Sips N’ Munchies Meze and Wine at 107 W. Oak St. in Old Louisville. No timetable has been announced for that project.