For the past 18 years, Cole Arimes has been a chef in Cincinnati, spending the last seven at upscale steakhouse Embers.
"It wasn't in the game plan to move," he said. "I was happy at Embers."
But last fall, he received a call that the building on Main Street that had housed Onizim's Restaurant and previously Furlongs would be coming available.
The opportunity was tempting, because Arimes was familiar with the property and neighborhood.
"I grew up on High Street and rode my bike back and forth to my dad's house on Cramer," he said.
Arimes, who attended Sayre School and Centre College, has family in Lexington and saw it as a chance to come home.
He leased the building from owner Don Wathan in November, and he plans to open Coles 735 Main in early March.
It seems almost inevitable that Arimes ended up in the food business. Influences come at him from both sides of his family. His grandparents were the longtime owners of Arimes Market, the Greek specialty store at the corner of Walton and Cramer avenues. His mother, Bekki, managed the imported-food section of the store.
The family of his stepfather, Bill Turnbull, was in the wholesale grocery business for years. Today, Turnbull and his brother, Richard, own Save-A-Lot stores throughout Central Kentucky.
The menu at Coles 735 Main will see influences from a wide variety of geographies. You can expect to find hand-patted hamburgers, crown fillet, seafood dishes and steak, but don't be surprised to see a little French, a smattering of Japanese and Mediterranean, and occasionally some upscale Southern, depending on the day you visit.
The menu items, many priced from $10 to $12, will change regularly, as will the various craft beers that will be served.
"Not every day, but often enough to keep people coming in to see what's new and different," Arimes said. "I like variety. It keeps things fresh and fun, and I think customers like that, too."
He also likes to present food creatively, because "you eat with your eyes first," he said. "If something looks blah on the plate, you already have a preconceived idea of what it will taste like."
Arimes prefers food that is prepared "straightforward, simple, made with fresh ingredients."
He has been to the Lexington Farmers Market and said he hopes to "use local ingredients as much as possible — produce, meat, bread from local bakeries."
He'll be in the kitchen most of the time, but Arimes likes to go through the dining room to talk to guests and meet new people.
"The more you're in front, the more comfortable people are giving feedback. I like that. Good feedback helps the kitchen," he said. "We like to know what people are saying about what they're eating."
Arimes is undaunted that previous restaurants at the site have come and gone.
"The restaurant business is what it is," he said. "Some restaurants open and close in the first year. It's a tough business, long hours in the kitchen.
"If you're not passionate and have your whole heart in it, it can chew you up and spit you out."
The interior won't look like those of the building's previous restaurants. It has been gutted, and workmen spent Wednesday building new banquettes.
When finished, the look of the restaurant will be something like "Monet's garden meets Anthropologie," Arimes said. The interior will be the colors of Provence, France — sunny yellow and blue. The plates and silverware won't match, nor will the chairs, which will be an eclectic mix.
The outside dining will be spruced up, Arimes said, with the plastic-covered porch changed into a gazebo with lattice panels.