Restaurant News & Reviews

Iconic Lexington music venue changes hands. What’s next for this bar?

A mural on the side of Al’s Bar at the corner of West Sixth and North Limestone streets celebrates the area’s heritage of black music. The bar has just changed hands.
A mural on the side of Al’s Bar at the corner of West Sixth and North Limestone streets celebrates the area’s heritage of black music. The bar has just changed hands. teblen@herald-leader.com

Al’s Bar, the longtime venue that has been an entertainment anchor on the Northside, has sold.

The new owners are experienced restaurant and bar owners Seth Brewer, who co-owns Wine + Market and formerly owned Enoteca on Jefferson, and Tim Small, who is a partner with Brewer in Best Friend Bar on Euclid.

They plan to “something like a half-step between Best Friend Bar ... and Enoteca,” with a range of beers and cocktails.

But they plan to continue the tradition of entertainment. “We will continue to offer an eclectic mix of live music for Lexington’s vibrant music community,” Brewer said in an email.

IMG_130321Manning_TE0081_2_1_359G6RRE_L260950108.jpg
Poet Maurice Manning reads during Holler Poet’s 60th monthly session in March 2013 at Al’s Bar. The new owners plan to continue having live entertainment. Tom Eblen teblen@herald-leader.com

Owners Lester Miller and his wife, Aumaine Mott, Josh Miller and Paul Evans Holbrook announced the news on Facebook, saying that “the end of an era is nigh.”

The previous owner thanked the fans as well as the artists who performed on Al’s stage over the years.

Brewer said they plan to honor the tradition of the neighborhood bar in the historic building.

“We will be leaving it alone as Al’s for a month or two to ‘live in the space’ before doing any renovation,” Brewer said. “Then we will be doing some work to make the space airier and more spacious, with some textural and aesthetic changes to make the place feel a touch more modern yet still casual and inviting as a neighborhood bar.”

They don’t have a name picked out yet for the venture.

According to the Facebook post, the Beer Garden/Sidecar space out back will host the non-profit The Kentucky School with Brett Ratliff, with classes, workshops and performances of Appalachian music, creative writing and arts and crafts.

“We’re hoping that will be symbiotic relationship,” said Small.

And the bar also will continue to to serve food from Fida’s Caribbean, which also has opened the Beach House in the yellow building next door, Brewer said.

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Janet Patton covers restaurants, bars, food and bourbon for the Herald-Leader. She is an award-winning business reporter who also has covered agriculture, gambling, horses and hemp.
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