After waiting more than seven years, Jeff Ruby knows Lexington is hungry. And he’s ready to bring more than just great steaks. He’s bringing the unique “Jeff Ruby Experience” to town.
“Lexington deserves our best restaurant, and this will be our best one,” Ruby said. “When you wait that long, you better not let them down. They’re expecting something magical, and I won’t let them down.”
Ruby began his quest to put a restaurant in Lexington in 2011 with the on-again, off-again CentrePointe project. At one point, it looked like the Cincinnati-based restaurateur would have to find another location.
“It’ll be how many years in the making? I signed the lease originally … Bin Laden was alive, I know that,” Ruby said. “The thing about it, I never thought it was actually going to come to fruition there were so many issues. ... I’m glad (developer) Dudley (Webb) was able to pull it off … now the design has been taken to a whole other level.”
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This week, Ruby’s company filed for a permit to begin building a Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse in what is now being called the City Center development, in the base of the Marriott hotel at the corner of Limestone and Vine. The facility will be 10,000-plus square feet and cost “many millions,” Ruby said.
“We keep tweaking it and tweaking it,” he said of the design, which he said will be distinctive to Lexington. “Guests want ‘the Jeff Ruby experience.’ We want the people visiting this restaurant to know they’re in Lexington but we want Lexingtonians to feel like they’re on vacation, like they’ve gone to Vegas.”
His daughter, Britney Ruby Miller, who runs the company, said they will begin construction Oct. 1 and plan to open April 1. She said it will seat about 350.
The overall design will be Art Deco, with special decor in each space, including an antique chandelier in one room, antiques, murals and period artwork, as well as plenty of TVs, Ruby said.
Here are some more details about the Lexington steakhouse:
▪ It will have the biggest patio at 1,800 feet of any Jeff Ruby’s. The patio will have its own bar, too, he said. And bronze Italian horse fountains, he said.
▪ The Wildcat Room will pay tribute to the Cats, of course, and will seat about 60 but can open up to the full dining room.
▪ The Gatsby Room will echo the carpet and decor from the Leonardo diCaprio movie, “The Great Gatsby,” Ruby said. “You’re going to think you’re on a movie set,” he said. It will seat about 16.
▪ The Bourbon Room will be a “magnificent” space for bourbon tasting for about 20 people.
▪ The horseshoe-shaped bar also will feature a 25-foot stage for live music and entertainment.
▪ There will be a raw bar and a sushi bar, with handmade pendant lights shaped like jellyfish or octopi, Ruby said.
▪ The Keeneland Room “shows respect for the great old Keeneland Racetrack,” Ruby said. It will seat about a dozen people.
▪ Even the men’s room and the ladies’ room will have that Jeff Ruby touch, with antiques and artwork, he said.
“People need to know it’s a Jeff Ruby restaurant as soon as they walk in the door, that’s how the design’s got to look,” Ruby said. “We got to keep our personality in it.”