Restaurant News & Reviews

Big shake up at Shakespeare & Co.: One restaurant closes while a bar, nightclub open

Restaurant chain Shakespeare & Co. once had three locations around Lexington. Now it’s down to one, the original spot on Short and Broadway.

The Hamburg location closed last week and workers were swiftly demolishing the interior to make way for a new tenant. A Chinoe Road location closed a couple of years ago.

But it’s part of a shakeup that includes launching two concepts, also at the original downtown location.

Owner Edward Saad said he decided to consolidate downtown. “Lexington has too many restaurants,” he said. So he revamped the main Shakespeare & Co. with updated decor and revamped and streamlined menu featuring lots of vegan options.

Now the ground level bar has been recreated as Script. It’s a play on the location across the street from the Lexington Opera House, which hosts Broadway plays and other live stage productions.

“The whole concept is incorporating theater, Shakespeare, and films,” said manager Tony Pridemore. The details even go down to cocktail menu which looks like a screenplay, stapled in the corner.

The interior of Script at 363 West Short Street in downtown Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. Alex Slitz

Cauliflower tacos made with marinated cauliflower, tahini sauce, spicy cole slaw, pico de gallo and cilantro on a flour tortilla at Script, the new bar at Shakespeare & Co. at 363 West Short Street in downtown Lexington. Food is available until 8 p.m. Alex Slitz

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Pridemore said they have a media wall so local filmmakers can show their work. “And we hope local theater companies will host their cast parties here.”

The new bar opened last week.

Upstairs, is another surprise: XOXO Nightclub. It opened a month ago.

The lounge at XOXO Nightclub at 367 West Short Street in downtown Lexington. XOXO is located above Shakespeare & Co. and is open Thursday through Saturday nights from 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Alex Slitz

“We haven’t done any advertising or social media, it’s all been word of mouth,” Pridemore said. “And suddenly on Saturday, the club is full.”

The furniture looks like your grandmother’s parlor, but once the lights go on the sparkles turn on. The men are dressed in pre-Prohibition bowlers and suspenders, while the women are pure punk.

The dance floor at XOXO Nightclub at Shakespeare & Co. in downtown Lexington. The club opened a month ago and men are dressed in pre-Prohibition bowlers and suspenders, while the women are pure punk. Alex Slitz

“It shouldn’t work, but it does,” Pridemore said.

Pridemore said the club’s name is really “Hugs and Kisses” but they are thrilled that people have adopted a nickname.

The nightclub is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

A Dumpster in front of the Shakespeare & Co. was filled with debris last week from the demolition after the restaurant at Hamburg closed. Janet Patton

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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