Business

Downtown bar closed after more than 32 years? Sign says for the winter

A sign on the door of Cheapside Bar and Grill says “closed for the winter.” How long Cheapside is closed “remains to be seen,” owner Robin Campbell wrote in an email. The bar and restaurant has been in business for more than 32 years.
A sign on the door of Cheapside Bar and Grill says “closed for the winter.” How long Cheapside is closed “remains to be seen,” owner Robin Campbell wrote in an email. The bar and restaurant has been in business for more than 32 years. sscherer1@herald-leader.com

Cheapside Bar & Grill apparently is the latest downtown dining casualty. A sign on the door posted Wednesday says it’s closed for winter.

The restaurant’s Facebook page had no information on the closing, except a post on Halloween saying that Cheapside was closing at 8 that night for a private party. The bar has been in business for more than 32 years.

How long Cheapside is closed “remains to be seen,” owner Robin Campbell wrote in an email.

“Given the incredibly tough restaurant market here in Lexington in the last couple of years, we have decided to take some time to reassess our business plan and goals.

“This is not the first time we have closed during our ‘off season.’ We closed in the winters of 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2014 for periods of three weeks to three months,” Campbell said. “Cheapside has been the mainstay of downtown Lexington for over 30 years ... through thick and thin. I wouldn’t bet against the same for the next 30.”

In March 2015, as the bar prepared for its 30th anniversary, Campbell shared these reminiscences from 1985:

“The first ‘Run for the Clover’ downtown was kicking off, as we were trying to get our doors open. My partner had all the city inspectors (on a Saturday!) trying to get our occupancy permit, while people were knocking on the door wanting in,” she said.

“Keith Clark and David Doucoumes were the original owners of Cheapside. Keith brought me in to set up the bar and I ended up being the manager and then partner, soon after. The NCAA Final Four was being held at Rupp, and there were very few places for people to celebrate downtown, so Cheapside was born,” she said in an email at the time.

“We started with just the main bar area (formerly Kentucky Finance), then knocked out a wall to open onto a patio — the patio. It was a huge hit, with legendary Friday Happy Hours — just ask any Lexingtonian that was happy hour-age at the time!

“Things started happening downtown, more people were coming down, more places opened up — and I think Cheapside was a major part of all that.”

Cheapside added a kitchen, a dining room and a full menu in 1990 as the dining and bar scene downtown blossomed. “The added competition, combined with the public demand for higher quality and more interesting menu selections, has prompted all restaurants to up their game,” she said at the time.

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