Restaurant News & Reviews

One Lexington restaurant closing, another leaving downtown.

Brasabana, which featured Cuban food, has closed its doors.

Chef and co-owner Jeremy Ashby says the restaurant “had a good run” of four years and he has plans for the space it occupied on Lane Allen Road: Lexington Diner, which has been a fixture in downtown Lexington on Short and Upper streets, will be moving out to the former home of Brasabana.

Ashby said that Lexington Diner owner Karin West plans to keep her restaurant open at its current location until next month.

In 2017, Lexington Diner was the spot where former Gov. Steve Beshear gave the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address. The restaurant also has hosted celebrities and ESPN.

It weathered the renovation of the 21c Museum Hotel as the block of Upper Street was closed in 2015 and the renovation of the Old Courthouse opposite it this year. A new Ouita Michel restaurant is slated to open in the courthouse soon.

“We survived three years of construction downtown, we’re definitely a survivor, been through quite a bit in the first five years,” said West, owner of Lexington Diner. “But I’m very excited to be moving to Lane Allen and joining the Azur group. I came to the decision that for us to grow we had to move. There’s literally no room for us to grow.

She said leaving downtown would be “very bittersweet ... I love the view, being in the heart of the community.”

Interior at the Lexington Diner, 124 North Upper St., in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, May 19, 2015. Charles Bertram

But the location will more than double the size of the restaurant, add a patio, “on-site parking, liquor, dinner, and four bathrooms! All things I haven’t been able to offer my guests in the past,” West said. “I hate to leave our downtown customers and certainly hope they’ll come visit us on weekends or evenings or order from Uber Eats.”

Azur chef Jeremy Ashby helped open a Cuban/Latin restaurant, Brasabana Cuban Cuisine, on Lane Allen Road. It closed on Monday. Mark Cornelison Herald-Leader

She said the menu will remain the same, all scratch-made food. She will be open downtown until the new location is ready, probably in early December.

The new partnership will allow the Lexington Diner to grow, Ashby said.

“She’s at her max. She can’t grow and can’t get a liquor license,” Ashby said. “She has to turn away business because she can’t do large parties or serve bloody Marys or mimosas.”

He said Brasabana might re-emerge in the future in a new location.

“In one sense, it’s a rebirth,” Ashby said. “She gets to grow her concept, and we get to be a part of that. It’s sad that we close Brasabana.”

He said they hope to open the new Lexington Diner in early December serving breakfast and lunch, and eventually plan to add dinner hours.

The menu will keep Lexington Diner’s famous burgers, add Brasabana’s Cuban sandwich, and serve breakfast all day, he said.