Followers of Lexington’s restaurant scene know that 2017 was brutal; many favorites didn’t make it through the year, in part because there was so much new competition.
With more than 30 new restaurants opening in Lexington in 2018, was last year any better?
Let’s take a look at some places that closed last year.
▪ Applebee’s, which also has been plagued by hepatitis A in employees, closed two locations last year: One at Hamburg closed in January and a second one near Fayette Mall on Nicholasville Road in September. Now Lexington’s only Applebee’s is on Sharkey Way. A third location on Richmond Road was torn down in January to make way for a Chick-fil-A.
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▪ Back Yard Burgers on Alysheba Way closed last spring and Smashburger near Fayette Mall closed its last location in Lexington in August. Both were lost out in Lexington’s intense gourmet burger market.
▪ Brasabana, a Cuban restaurant on Lane Allen, closed in November but reopened in December as the new Lexington Diner, which had been downtown for several years. Brasabana chef/co-owner Jeremy Ashby said the restaurant “had a good run” of four years. The diner left Short Street but is building a new following out Harrodsburg Road. And some of the Cuban favorites are on the menu.
▪ Jimmy John’s and Noodles & Co. were both victims of the restaurant struggle on South Limestone last year. The sandwich shop decided to consolidate its mostly takeout or delivery business to other locations (they closed the East Main Jimmy John’s for the same reason.) Noodles & Co. still has a restaurant on Nicholasville Road. Blaze Pizza on South Lime also closed in February after two and a half years in business to focus on business at the new location at The Summit.
▪ Life Brewpub, which had been a restaurant as well as a brewery just off Richmond Road, had other issues: It was closed in August after a judgment in Franklin Circuit Court again the business for almost $245,000 in back taxes.
▪ Logan’s Roadhouse. Maybe nothing sums up the changing fortunes of Lexington restaurants better than this: The original Logan’s Roadhouse is becoming a car wash. The building on South Broadway was torn down in September; the restaurant, which was the original Logan’s of the chain, closed in August 2017. Now a Time to Shine car wash, one of many popping up around the city, is about to open.
▪ Lucky’s Market, which offered shopping with beer, hot sandwiches and slices to go, a fill-it-yourself candy selection and organic produce for the 99 percent, couldn’t make that formula work in Lexington. The chain grocery closed its 1030 South Broadway location near the University of Kentucky campus in May after only two years in the market.
▪ Mark’s Feed Store in Beaumont closed in January after about a year in business. This was Mark’s second crack at Lexington (remember, there was one way out Richmond Road years ago?) and what’s really puzzling because the chain does great in Louisville, where Mark’s has won awards for its barbecue. However, the location is slated to become a new Mexican restaurant called Campestre Mexican Bar & Grill next year.
▪ Skewers, a Mediterranean concept opened on West Tiverton Way in January 2017, and closed in early 2018. It served shish kabobs, salads, soups, meat and vegetarian entrees, and was open for lunch and dinner. But the location, across from The Summit at Fritz Farm, may have hurt. Skewers was at least the sixth restaurant on or around Fayette Mall to close in 12 months.
▪ The Soup Kitchen, also on Southland Drive, also closed in November, with a notice that says they are looking for another location. The restaurant has been open since 2010.
▪ Walker’s opened in the former Wines on Vine spot in March but closed in November. The good news is now owner Larry Dean has teamed with chef Ranada Riley and reopened the restaurant as Ranada’s Bistro and Bar. Both are veterans of the business and have a lot planned for the space.
▪ Willie’s Locally Known closed in November, a year after co-owner Wilson Sebastian posted a heartfelt video urging customers to come by more or risk losing the place. Apparently it wasn’t enough; Willie’s closed in November. It began life on North Broadway in 2012, then moved to a bigger location on Southland in 2016. “We gave it a hell of a shot,” said co-owner Wilson Sebastian of the barbecue restaurant and music venue.
▪ Wing Hut, we barely knew ye. A chain of sorts, popular around Atlanta apparently, tried to branch out into Lexington last year. And it did not go well. The owner announced plans for two locations; one on North Broadway seems to have opened then closed closed within six months. It isn’t clear the other on East New Circle actually took flight.