When Bourbon ’n’ Toulouse owners Kevin Heathcoat and Will Pieratt teamed with jewelry store owner Bill Farmer Jr. to buy the Chevy Chase Inn in October 2014, their goal was to save the bar, which was known as a great neighborhood dive.
They were able to keep the oldest bar in Lexington from morphing into a wine bar or just another store. And they decided to preserve the atmosphere while making a few upgrades.
“We cleaned the bathrooms and mopped the floors, covered the patio, brought in craft beer and made a couple of improvements for the fire inspector,” Heathcoat said. “That was all the improvements we planned on making.”
Then they found old photos of the bar showing a neon sign, long gone, that once graced the front of the building. They’ve decided to bring back the sign, complete with neon and touting their air conditioning, once a big selling point in sultry Southern summers.
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“We have been working with Ruggles Sign Co. to come up with a sign that will be as iconic as the stained glass that hangs inside the bar,” Heathcoat said. The new version will say “Chevy Chase Inn. Air Conditioned. Bar. Music” in neon on a red background.
To pay for it, along with the framing to hold the sign and the electrical upgrade required to power it, the owners are launching a Kickstarter campaign in June to raise $15,000. To kick it off, they are having a party from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. June 2 at the Chevy Chase Inn, 833 East Euclid Avenue.
“We’re throwing in what we can, but we just need a little help,” Heathcoat said. “It’s probably going to cost about $20,000.”
The new sign already has received approval from the city’s landmark sign committee and could go up as early as late July, Heathcoat said.
“This sign’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s just whether it happens now or in four or five years, when we can afford it ourselves. We feel strongly this is something Lexington needs.”