South Broadway ho! The popular campus and city hangout Tolly-Ho is sliding its cheese-fried glory to a new location early next year.
Tolly Ho owner Roy Milling has signed a contract to buy the now-empty Hart's Dry Cleaning building on South Broadway for an undisclosed amount, said spokeswoman Kathleen Martin.
But hard-core fans of the longtime campus-area restaurant need not fret, said General Manager Matt Salyer: Everything that is Tolly-Ho will be the same, only better.
"We'll still be part of UK, still be part of Lexington, and be able to have that hangout, all that great atmosphere, at a permanent home," Salyer said. "We've always been humbled that we have that place, that people can make it their own."
It's a place where police officers and partiers, professors, doctors, nurses and students mingle at all hours.
"Our place is a hangout, a haven, a safe harbor," he said. "We've always been just what you want us to be. In the mornings, you can see businessmen have breakfast next to people who have been studying all night, and other students who have been 'studying' all night."
And there will still be a presence at South Limestone and Euclid Avenue, although they can't say yet just what it will be.
"The name will not leave that doorway, nor will the awning move," Martin said. "There will just be a new awning identical to it, just not as weathered, at the new location."
Salyer said longtime employees are excited about the move, which will mean more space in the kitchen, the dining areas and the parking lot. There will even be curbside service for takeout orders. And more space means more jobs, so Tolly-Ho will be hiring.
Salyer said the owners have been contemplating for years the move from the leased space at 395 South Limestone, where the restaurant has been since the early 1980s. (Before that, it was down the street on Euclid).
As for rumors that newcomer Hugh Jass Burgers was somehow behind a nefarious plot to carve Tolly-Ho out of the market (as if they could, Ho fans say), Salyer said, "That's totally unfounded."
"Some people are just so passionate about our business that they feel like they need to defend us, when there's no reason to defend us," he said.
The space the restaurant is going into has been rehabilitated to accommodate the kitchen and is now one big empty space. So fans have a chance to put their permanent stamp on the place. Tolly-Ho is selling bricks that will be used to build the walls inside. The price for students is $500, but they will get a $250 gift card. Businesses will be asked to pay more, depending on the size they want and whether they want their logo up, Martin said.
Salyer said they already have been hearing from customers about what their favorite things are and what to bring to the new location.
"The bricks are a great example of that," he said. "People say, 'Oh, it's like my home.' Well, now their name's going to be on it to show that."