deSha's to close its doors Dec. 28; owner has yet to find new site

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comDecember 11, 2013 

One of downtown's most well-known restaurants will close its doors on Dec. 28.

deSha's, which opened in Victorian Square in 1985, will serve its last meal at the corner of Main and North Broadway streets just three days before it has to vacate the premises.

In an email to customers, Nick Sanders, the CEO of Cincinnati-based Tavern Retaurant Group, thanked the community for their nearly 30 years of support. "It has been an honor to have a business for 28 years in the heart of my hometown," Sanders said. "I am grateful to my employees, many of whom have been with me since we opened our doors in 1985."

The restaurant is named after Nick Sanders' father, deSha Sanders, who had a restaurant on Vine and Barr streets in the 1950s, said Nancy Parrott, a spokeswoman for Tavern Restaurant Group.

Sanders is trying to find an alternate location for deSha's in Lexington, Parrott said. "Unfortunately, it didn't happen as quickly as we wanted it to."

Meanwhile, employees of deSha's will be offered positions at The Pub, deSha's sister restaurant at the Fayette Mall. Parrott said that if employees are willing to relocate, The Tavern Group also has 10 other Pub locations in other cities and are building three more.

The group tried unsuccessfully to fight eviction from highly-visible corner directly across from Rupp Arena and the Lexington Center earlier this year after new owners of Victorian Square said they would not renew the lease.

In August 2012, Victorian Square was purchased by Lexington's The Webb Companies and Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate Inc. of Cincinnati for $1.7 million. The group has said that they want to revitalize Victorian Square, a block of restored 19th-century buildings, with an eclectic mix of retail and restaurant space. In May, Victorian Square took Tavern Group to court, saying that they had frequently failed to pay rent in a timely manner. A Fayette circuit judge ultimately sided with Victorian Square in the dispute and ordered deSha's to leave by Dec. 31, the end of its current lease.

Mark Fallon, vice president of Jeffrey Anderson Real Estate, did not immediately return phone calls asking for comment. It's not clear what tenant will go into the highly-visible corner in Lexington's downtown.

Earlier this year, Saul Good Restaurant & Pub, another Lexington-based eatery, opened its third location at 123 North Broadway — in the space directly behind deSha's. Three Victorian Square tenants — The Chase Tap Room, Howard & Miller and Heels — moved out to make room for Saul Good. The Explorium, Lexington's children's Museum, signed a five-year lease in April with the new owners to stay at a location where it has been for nearly 20 years.

Parrott said that she has not been told what will replace deSha's.

Parrott said that loyal customers of deSha's will receive an email from Sanders Thursday notifying them of the restaurant's closure. The restaurant and pub will close its doors at 4 p.m. on Dec. 28.

"We really want to see as many people as we can before we close," Parrott said. "And we are really hopeful that we will be able to find a new home."

Beth Musgrave: (859) 231-3205. Twitter: @HLCityhall

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