Restaurant News & Reviews

Alfalfa, Lexington restaurant with a social conscience, seeks new owners

Alfalfa Restaurant moved from its longtime home on South Limestone Street to the Downtown Arts Center on Main Street a decade ago. It is currently negotiating for another 10-year lease.
Alfalfa Restaurant moved from its longtime home on South Limestone Street to the Downtown Arts Center on Main Street a decade ago. It is currently negotiating for another 10-year lease. teblen@herald-leader.com

Alfalfa restaurant, a Lexington favorite for Hoppin’ John, buckwheat pancakes and bohemian atmosphere, is seeking new ownership.

The restaurant at 141 East Main Street, remains open.

Alfalfa owner Jim Happ posted on Facebook Friday that after 27 years “of being part of the loving team at Alfalfa Restaurant … Betsey (Moses) and I need to step aside as the owners of Alfalfa.”

The post said that the restaurant has “a core group of dedicated employees with limited funds and a history of giving beyond expectations, who are willing to offer sweat equity along with their management experience to own part of the business, and maintain the culture and the product which has persisted for 43 years.”

Happ’s post seeks those who would like to share ownership, pursue sole ownership or discuss other ideas for the restaurant, to contact him at alfalfalex@outlook.com.

The restaurant thrived for 31 years in a low-ceilinged, rustic building at 557 South Limestone near the University of Kentucky before moving downtown in 2004.

The restaurant opened on April 8, 1973, with two menu items, and on its opening day gave a free meal to anyone who contributed a chair to the restaurant.

In 1974 the staff included cook Susan Saxe, who was later identified as one of the FBI’s 10 most-wanted fugitives for a 1970 bank robbery in which a Boston police officer was killed. Saxe was arrested elsewhere in 1975.

Urban County council member Jake Gibbs was an off-and-on minority owner who started at Alfalfa washing dishes as a UK graduate student in 1979.

Current owners Happ and Moses met while working at Alfalfa and named their daughter for Helen Alexander, a cook there.

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