Demolition started Monday on the former McDonald's restaurant building at 473 East Main Street, where owners tried three times without success to get a drive-through lane.
The building has been vacant since Cielito Lindo Mexican restaurant closed earlier this year.
"We struggled with what to do there. But we decided we won't get the best use for that site with the current building there," said Lee Greer, president of Greer Companies, one of the owners of the property.
The building was built as a McDonald's restaurant more than 28 years ago. Greer did not know the exact date of construction.
"At the end of the day, somebody may drive by that site now and come up with a great idea," he said. "We want something nice there."
Greer said another free-standing restaurant or a multi-use building with retail on the first floor and offices and condominiums on the upper floors are possibilities.
The lot is narrow "but very deep, with lots of parking in the back," he said. "We're taking all ideas."
M&S Restaurants Inc., which owned the McDonald's franchise on East Main Street, tried in 1983 to get a drive-through lane.
Neighbors in historic Bell Court and the owners of Kerr Brothers Funeral Home, next door to McDonald's, vigorously opposed a drive-through.
The Urban County Board of Adjustment turned down the request. The restaurant took its case to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which declined to review the case in 1985.
The restaurant chain tried again in 1987 and in 1997 for a drive-through. McDonald's eventually moved to a location on Winchester Road.
Wyn Morris, whose family bought a house on nearby Forest Avenue in the mid-1980s when he was a child, said he remembered "the hubbub" about a drive-through.
Morris lives in the family home now, and he said his children "really miss Cielito Lindo. It was a great place where we could walk and eat."
His suggestion for the site: "It would be a swell location for a Trader Joe's."