For decades, Delaware Avenue off of Lexington's Winchester Road has had an industrial feel, with brick and cement plants cheek by jowl with car repair shops and a few desultory houses.
But two new businesses may import some of the gentrification of nearby National Avenue, which has spiffed up in recent years with a mix of restaurants and retail in renovated buildings.
In October, Lexington Pasta plans to move into a new factory location at 962 Delaware. Owners Lesme Romero and Ray Gonzalez plan to add a cafe to the front of the 8,000-square-foot site in coming months.
"We make pasta but we're not a restaurant now," Romero said. But people often come into their tiny factory/shop currently on Limestone looking for lunch or dinner.
At the same time, Lexington Pasta needs to grow. The company, which has been in business for five years, has concentrated on wholesale, Romero said, where the margins are really low.
"We're making money but it's all going back into the business," he said. But in a restaurant, the margins would be better and customers would get something they have been asking for.
"Finally we're diving into that area. You'll be able to see us making the pasta, then pick any shape, sauce and toppings you want," Romero said, adding prices will vary from $6.99 to $7.99 for a pasta bowl, drink and bread sticks.
The concept will be called Pasta Garage Italian Cafe, with antique pasta making equipment as decor, Romero said. He and his business partner hope to take the idea to Louisville, Cincinnati, and other cities.
"We're going to make our own demand for the pasta with our own restaurants," he said.
At first, the cafe plans to serve lunch. But if there is demand it may expand to dinner, Gonzalez said.
But that will cut into his other big plans: Gonzalez wants to launch a weekly "chef's dinner" for 10 people, where the entire meal is prepared right in front of diners from scratch. Lexington Pasta also plans to continue its Friday evening pasta making classes at the new location.
To get community support, Lexington Pasta launched a Kickstarter campaign in late August that will end on Sept. 19. Their goal is to raise $25,000. See the video here: Kickstarter.com/projects/pastaguys/cover-us-in-dough.
And in coming months the street will have another culinary "factory." The new building under construction at 1400 Delaware will be a cidery/craft brewery with a tap room, according to owner Kevin Compton.
"I'll be crushing apples on site," Compton said. "Obvious, the intent is to use as many Kentucky apples as possible. That's the primary focus."
Hard cider is one of the fastest growing spirits market categories, with dozens of makers in Oregon, Michigan and New York but only a few in Kentucky so far.
A longtime home brewer, Compton said he also plans to make Americanized Belgian beers, an IPA, a porter, and sour beers.
Compton doesn't yet have a name for the brewery but has equipment ready to move in once the building is ready. He hopes to have the brewery up and running by the first of the year.
Eventually, Compton hopes to redevelop the other end of the lot as well. The site was once a grocery warehouse that burned down in the 1950s, he said.
Together, the new businesses will bring a more savory flavor to Delaware, already home to Dupree's Catering, Stems florist, Barnhill Chimney and Cowgirl's Attic.
"So it's not National Avenue," Gonzalez said. "But it's getting there."