Ouita Michel, the Central Kentucky restaurateur responsible for Holly Hill Inn and Wallace Station Deli and Bakery, has opened a new destination in rural Lexington — Windy Corner.
The story goes that Gainesway Farm President Antony Beck asked his wife, Angela, what gift she wanted for their anniversary.
Rather than jewelry, a trip or another common present, she replied, "I want the corner store."
The closest store to the farm was vacant, situated along the corner of Bryan Station and Muir Station roads near the Bourbon County line.
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"There was just no place for the people who work around here on the farm," Angela Beck said. She added that the farm routinely ordered food from restaurants at Hamburg, 10 miles away.
She said her idea was to open a cooperative or community gathering place, but her husband had grander plans.
He bought the land and approached Michel more than two years ago about expanding her group of restaurants, which specialize in using local products.
For the cuisine, Michel decided she wanted something a little bit different from Holly Hill, which is upscale dining, and Wallace Station, a well-received sandwich shop.
She aimed to create a casual restaurant that featured Po-boys, a favorite from her trip last year to New Orleans. The Louisiana equivalent of a sub, it's French brioche bread filled with meat or seafood, usually fried.
While Wallace Station bakes its own bread, Michel said she's at capacity for baking and turned to a baker near Louisville.
The Po-boy menu features meat from nearby farms, including Stone Cross Farm, and an array of Kentucky produce.
The menu also includes burgers and salads and will soon include beer and wine.
Local products are stored on shelves in the dining area and available for sale.
"We're getting into a little bit of the grocery business, and I don't have a lot of experience in that," Michel said. "But whatever we don't sell, I'll be cooking."
The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
For the development of the property, Antony Beck turned to Holly Wiedemann, president of Lexington's AU Associates, and Patrick McGee of Churchill McGee in Lexington. It was a different kind of project for Wiedemann, who typically restores old buildings for affordable housing.
"It was everything I love — sustainability, local foods, support of farmers, agritourism, and just the creation of a really wonderful place," she said.
The exterior of the building is reclaimed barn siding, Wiedemann said, and the floors are made of recycled fence planks from horse farms.
"There has just never been a local community gathering place," Angela Beck said. "It really is filling a niche for that."