Restaurant News & Reviews

Jefferson Street loses one of its restaurants; owner says competition intense

Enoteca consistently got rave reviews from diners and critics; owner Seth Brewer said he wanted to close rather than cut quality or staffing to give his employees a good shot at getting jobs.
Enoteca consistently got rave reviews from diners and critics; owner Seth Brewer said he wanted to close rather than cut quality or staffing to give his employees a good shot at getting jobs. File photo

Enoteca, the tapas and wine bar on Jefferson Street, has closed, a victim of Lexington’s restaurant boom. Owners Seth and Renee Brewer announced the news on Facebook Sunday night.

Seth Brewer said Monday they will still operate Wine+Market, across the street, and are looking for a new restaurant tenant for the building at 191 Jefferson Street.

Brewer said he knew the closing would be a shock for staff but he did not want to compromise on service or quality. “Right now I think my employees will stand a much better chance of finding a job,” while the reputation of the restaurant is still strong, he said.

The Brewers bought Wine+Market in 2011 and opened Enoteca in July 2013 as the Jefferson Street corridor blossomed around them. Since then other areas, including the Distillery District on Manchester and The Summit at Fritz Farm on Nicholasville, have created increased competition for dining dollars.

“The food scene in Lexington is just so vibrant and vital … I don’t think it was a drop in quality, but our overall business has dropped,” Brewer said. “At the time we opened, Jefferson Street was pretty much the only pocket. ... But now there are more of those, and our kind of foodie audience wants to explore. They like small local business and well made food, and there are lots of cool places doing that. Any time a person decides to venture out and try a new place ... that might be their new go-to place.”

Brewer said the Jefferson Street corridor — which has a string of restaurants and bars including Wagon Bones Grill, Stella’s Kentucky Deli, Blue Heron Steakhouse, Grey Goose, Nick Ryan’s, and West Sixth Brewery and Smithtown Seafood — is still hot.

“I don’t think it’s going away. It’s not that customers weren’t coming,” he said of Enoteca. Just fewer regulars. “There are more eateries on their to-do list. There always are, but there’s a lot more this year. Everyone’s got to check out The Summit, Carson’s, the Distillery District. All it takes is regulars coming once every other month instead of once a month to make a difference. We feel it.”

The Enoteca building has been many restaurants, going back into the Fifties, he said, including Coyle’s, the Fish Net, and Wingspan Gallery with in-house catering.

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