The next few weeks will be busy ones for the spot at High Street and Woodland Avenue where Ramsey's once ruled the hearts and stomachs of a certain portion of Lexington diners.
Already, workers are replacing bits and pieces on the outside. But that is only the beginning, said Charles Patterson, who has leased the space for a new neighborhood restaurant and full bar.
The exterior will get a face lift, and the patio will be expanded and enclosed with a wrought-iron fence so it will be open to the street, Patterson said.
"We're going to leave the big tree," although it needs a bit of work, too, he said.
The location was a dream come true, he said: It's near downtown, the University of Kentucky campus and Woodland Park, and it's across from Missy's Pie Shop.
Patterson has signed a lease with options for 25 years.
Soon will come a new awning over the front door with a name that Patterson hopes will become as familiar to locals as the old one: Chatham's.
Or Chatham's on High. He isn't quite certain, and he welcomes input on which name potential customers prefer. (Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Inside, the changes will be even more dramatic.
"We're going to completely redo the kitchen and the floors. Fix the crazy steps," Patterson said.
Besides the new floors, there will be lighter paint on the walls, a new drop ceiling and brighter lighting, he said. And a whole new bar, fully stocked.
In the bar, he plans to add draft beer, California and Italian wines, and a signature drink: Chatham Artillery Punch, a Savannah specialty that sounds delicious and has enough liquor to fell a regiment.
The name Chatham's — a reference to Chatham County, Ga., home of Savannah — is a nod to the Southern cuisine the restaurant will feature: comfort food like "Jo-Jo's meatloaf," named for Patterson's mother, JoAnn, along with shrimp and grits, frogmore stew and other lowcountry specialties.
Although Patterson loves to cook, he won't be in the kitchen all the time. "That's a young man's game," he said. He will start looking for a chef and managers soon, and he plans to have a website up before the end of the month.
Despite all the work, Patterson said, he hopes to have the new place open sometime this summer.
Entrees will be reasonably priced, he said, in the $9-$12 range, to draw a neighborhood crowd, just as Ramsey's used to.
"I know it's going to get compared, ... but I want it to be its own thing," he said.