Lexington's 21c Museum Hotel announced Tuesday that the restaurant in the historic First National Bank building will be called Lockbox in honor of the building's banking past.
The executive chef will be Jonathan Searle, who has served as executive sous chef at Proof on Main, 21c's Louisville hotel restaurant.
Searle began his culinary career in Lexington at Bellini's and Dudley's on Short. According to the company, he joined the kitchen team at Proof on Main in 2011, helping it earn accolades that included a place on Bon Appetit's list of "10 Best Hotels for Food Lovers."
Searle was unavailable for comment Tuesday but said in a statement: "I am very excited to be returning to Lexington to take the helm at Lockbox. I look forward to opportunities to collaborate with my many industry friends and quality purveyors, and to meet those that I haven't yet worked with in the community. It feels like an exciting time to be part of the food culture in Lexington."
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The 102-year-old First National Building at West Main and North Upper streets is being transformed into an 88-room boutique hotel with a restaurant and bar, and a 8,500-square-foot museum and gallery space. Construction on the $43 million project began last year.
Lockbox, which like the hotel is slated to open in early 2016, will showcase local, high-quality ingredients for dinner, lunch, and breakfast daily, and brunch on the weekend. The menu will change frequently to focus on seasonal ingredients and will include options suitable for sharing, according to 21c.
The kitchen at Lockbox will be open to the dining room and visible to pedestrians on Upper Street.
"Jonathan is such a perfect fit for Lockbox," Sarah Robbins, senior vice president of operations, said in a statement. "He started his career in Lexington and has maintained close relationships with colleagues in the kitchens of many of Lexington's great restaurants. His dedication to sourcing the highest quality local produce available is truly showcased in his cooking."
The main dining room of Lockbox will be in the original bank hall of the McKim, Mead and White building, which was Lexington's first skyscraper in 1913.
Deborah Berke Partners, design architect and interior designer, is reinventing the space as a contemporary brasserie, according to a news release.
Large windows, marble floors, and wainscoting and decorative plaster details will provide a backdrop for contemporary furnishings and art. While the dining room and the lounge will have communal tables, the original safe deposit vault will be a private dining room. The bar in the corner space will have glass-fronted bourbon cabinets with more than 50 Kentucky bourbons, according to the news release.