Sal’s Chophouse and Meats BBQ Mkt., two of the restaurants Bluegrass Hospitality Group operates in the Lansdowne Shoppes, are to close Sunday night after 13 years for Sal’s and less than a year for Meats.
They will become new space for the popular Malone’s Banquets, which will almost double in capacity, according to John McNamara, BHG marketing partner. Malone’s Banquets will grow from nine rooms to 12, he said, and from total diner capacity of 275 to 500, including a large ground floor dining room. The banquet space will expand from 8,000 square feet to 15,000.
The new space is planned to be open by Nov. 21.
“We hope to be open for the busy Christmas season,” McNamara said. “There’s a constant amount of demand for Malone’s Banquets. We had to turn demand away. We felt it was time to double down on it, and go for the extra space.”
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Meats BBQ Mkt opened Oct. 19. The concept was built around Lexington’s growing demand for barbecue but never really “took,” McNamara admitted. He and partners Bruce Drake and Brian McCarthy, who put the quick-serve barbecue buffet into the former Harry’s Patio space, are puzzled as to why it didn’t work out.
“I don’t know if we could answer that,” McNamara said. He is selling the three smokers and other equipment that had been put in behind the restaurant. Other items, including the booths, will be auctioned off.
Another concept at Lansdowne, OBC Kitchen, is staying put with plans to expand brunch to accommodate former Sal’s brunch diners.
OBC Kitchen, Malone’s, Malone’s Banquets, Aqua Sushi and Drake’s will stay open during the banquet-space expansion. Employees of Sal’s and Meats will be offered jobs at other BHG restaurants, according to the company.
Malone’s Banquets typically offers a broad menu, including a choice of as many as 10 entrees.
BHG is looking to expand both the Malone’s and the Drake’s brands, McNamara said, with a Louisville a logical target market for a fourth Malone’s. The group is scouting places in the Southeast for a ninth Drake’s restaurant, he said.