Our quarterly roundup of all the Louisville area restaurant openings and closings over the past three months.
If we put the number of new restaurants that have opened in the last three months against those that have closed in that time, we see that the often volatile restaurant business has been fairly stable this past quarter. We count 18 new restaurants joining the Louisville area’s dining choices and 17 that have closed. Those openings include three existing restaurants that have added an additional location, and we count among the closings three outlets of multi-location businesses that continue to operate at one or more addresses. In addition, seven other businesses have made important changes – either moves or expansions, change of personnel or of food focus – that we will elucidate later. As we wind down another year, it is good to see some slowing of activity, some consolidation, some catching-a-breath as we look to the always surprising future.
Restaurateur Kevin Grangier seems to be ready to confront that future head-on with Grassa Gramma, an Italian restaurant he is adding to a portfolio that already includes the Village Anchor, PICNIC, and Le Moo. After a major remodeling of the former Emperor of China building at 2210 Holiday Manor Center, Grangier will open Grassa Gramma soon after this winter issue appears in early December. The menu will include his take on familiar Italian food just like your robust Italian grandmother made — only better. Meatballs in marinara are served over polenta. There is a prime beef crudo, farro salad, gnocchi in Gorgonzola sauce, and pizza and spaghetti, of course.
The Hall on Washington, 111 W. Main St. is also slated to open later in December, another addition to the lively businesses along Whiskey Row. The new enterprise by the people behind The Sidebar at Whiskey Row will be a German-inspired beer hall serving grilled meat, seafood and traditional German fare such as pretzels, potato pancakes, kraut, spätzle and schnitzel. The bar will offer a dozen rotating draft beers and ciders, wines and liquor.
Two other modest dining options have been quickly building a fan base. Boujie Biscuit, 1813 Frankfort Ave., serves a variety of sandwiches on oversized house-baked buttermilk biscuits. Savory choices include three cheese, maple bacon and chicken pot pie biscuits, and there are dessert biscuits, too, filled with peaches in brown sugar sauce or sliced bananas with chocolate sauce. Also serving hearty homestyle cooking is The Cozy Kitchen, a takeout lunch and dinner store at 1554 Bardstown Rd. If you and your family have a hankering for pot roast and mashed potatoes for dinner, or chicken and dumplings, stop in, carry out an order, and reheat it at home.
The big spurt of ethnic restaurants that we had seen in prior months has slowed recently. This issue, we add one new Vietnamese spot, Eatz Vietnamese Restaurant, at 974 Barret Ave.; one Indian, Shreeji Vegetarian Street Food, at 1986 S. Hurstbourne Pkwy; and two new spots for Mexican food: Taco Choza, which replaces the Ville Taqueria at 3922 Westport Rd. and El Vaquero, which has moved into the former Smokehouse BBQ space at 5414 Bardstown Rd.
To expand the concept of ethnic cuisine just a bit, Steve O’s Italian Kitchen will soon open at 2230 Frankfort Ave., replacing Clifton’s Pizza. Boudreaux’s Cajun Cooking will dispense gumbo-to-go during lunch hours only from Boudreaux’s New Orleans Style Sno Ball Shack at 11816 Shelbyville Rd. And Soul Food Dining is in business at 4900 Poplar Level Road.
Sherry Hurley’s Farm to Fork catering business has moved into Portland and added Farm to Fork Café as part of her new expanded operation at 2425 Portland Avenue. M +A+ F Gallery and Café is open to view art and enjoy light fare at 976 Barrett Ave.
Fort Knockers Mess Hall, a military-themed bar and grill, has opened at 5501 Valley Station Rd, and Growler USA is the only new franchise operation to target the area recently. That Oregon-based craft beer business opened just before Christmas at 3010 Gottbrath Pkwy. in Jeffersonville.
Expansions of existing businesses include Feast BBQ, which has opened a store in J’town at 10318 Taylorsville Rd. Barry’s Cheese Steaks & More is taking over the Old Louisville corner for a second location that recently was Geechee Bayou at 1161 S. 2nd St. and should open in several weeks. And the sixth Roosters is open at 3601 Springhurst Blvd., replacing a Rafferty’s.
Three old-timers and two recent upstarts are among the more prominent businesses to close. The most unexpected closing is Bistro 1860 at 1765 Mellwood Ave. For the last six years Chef Michael Crouch has innovated with his menu of three levels of size and price, but internal issues resulted in its demise.Very familiar, comfortable Jeffersonville cafeteria Ann’s by the River has closed, but new owners plan to remodel the building at 149 Spring St. and reopen a new cafeteria concept there. Long-time local favorite Clifton’s Pizza, 2230 Frankfort Ave., has closed; the La Grange business Steve O’s Italian Kitchen will open a second location there soon.
After a short run, Red Herring Cocktail Lounge and Kitchen has ceased operation at its classy renovated Hilltop Theater space at 1757 Frankfort Ave. Across the river, Eric Morris has closed his popular New Albany restaurant Gospel Bird, 207 East Main St., to cope with some family issues and to concentrate on his other restaurant, Hull and High Water.
Bluegrass Burgers, 3334 Frankfort Ave. has undergone a series of ownership changes recently but has finally given up the ghost. Word is that the location will become the second Burger Boy outlet by the first of the year.
Stadium Joe’s Sports Café, which was in the Ramada Plaza Hotel at 9700 Bluegrass Pkwy., has closed, and the space is being remodeled for another restaurant concept that is still to be determined.
Cereal restaurants apparently were a thing on the East Coast, but Louisville diners have resisted the dubious idea. The Cereal Box’s second life has ended at 1220 Bardstown Rd. Zoom Zoom Yum, the Mediterranean Middle Eastern restaurant in a cute little house at 974 Barrett Ave. closed after a short run; that building is now Eatz Vietnamese Restaurant. Old Louisville Pizza Company has been replaced by the expansion of its contiguous neighbor, Toonerville Deli at 1201 S. First St. More on that in a moment.
Two suburban eateries have closed, Highway 31 Diner and Dive, 8610 Dixie Highway, and South End Zone, 13016 Dixie Highway. And two downtown restaurants have stopped serving: Fountain on Fourth Ice Cream Lounge at 601 S. Fourth St., inside Cellar Door Chocolates, has closed with plans to reopen in its own space in the highlands in Spring 2019. Encore on Fourth at 630 S. Fourth St., also closed.
With the closure of the outlet at 10600 Dixie Highway, fans of Applebee’s now have only five locations in the area to sate their hunger for mozzarella sticks. Three Home Run Burgers and Fries remain after the closing of the store at 4600 Shelbyville Rd. And only the original Cocoberry Pops shop remains in Woodlawn after the Clifton store at 1813 Frankfort Ave. closed (and quickly became Boujie Biscuit).
We need to note some changes to local businesses, four of which are expanding. We have already alluded to Toonerville Deli’s absorption of its sister business, Old Louisville Pizza Company. The Deli now stretches from the corner of First and Oak down along Oak Street into the Pizza Company space. The deli will add 12-inch pizzas and wings to its regular menu.
In Clifton, The Manhattan Project has considerably expanded its footprint as it has taken over the street-front space that had long been Nancy’s Bagel Grounds at 2101 Frankfort Ave. Also doubling in size is the original El Taco Luchador, 938 Baxter Ave., after acquiring the adjoining building just to the north.
Cooking at the Cottage, 3739 Lexington Rd., is not exactly a restaurant, though its popular cooking classes sort of turn into one, especially on date night classes when couples cook their own dinners under the tutelage of local chefs. Those classes will now be held in a newly acquired space across the courtyard of the Vogue Center, while the retail side of Cooking at the Cottage will expand into the current classroom area.
A few last notes: Brownie’s the Shed has moved from 237 Whittington Pkwy. to 9900 Linn Station Rd. Nirvana has hired Darnell Ferguson to take over the kitchen at 1047 Bardstown Rd. Nirvana’s owners and their live music focus remain the same, and Ferguson will continue to operate his SuperChefs restaurant a mile or so up Bardstown Road from Nirvana.