Shuttered downtown bar reopens as Ruddy Duck with original owner

An old downtown bar is coming back to life: Cheapside is going to reopen.

Keith Clark originally opened Cheapside almost 33 years ago on St. Patrick’s Day with business partner David Doucomes. Clark is reopening the bar and restaurant on Thursday as The Ruddy Duck Grille. Clark also owns The Grey Goose and The Blue Heron, both on Jefferson Street.

“It was just an opportunity that I thought would never present itself again,” Clark said. “I sold it some time ago because I thought it was time to move on and go on to Jefferson Street and try some new things. And they’ve done well.”

He recently sold his Midway The Grey Goose location to Wayne and Susan Masterman, so he had an opening for a new property, he said.

“When (Cheapside) became available, I weighed it heavily, talked to my wife, and we decided it was the thing to do,” Clark said.

The kitchens and a back dining area have been updated, he said. The restaurant needed “a new image, a fresh approach,” he said.

But it’s “still going to be a nightlclub, with live music, just with more enhanced food. It’s had southwest cuisine forever and we thought it was time bring another food element downtown.”

The menu will feature “comfort food” with appetizers, soups and salads and entrees such as a hot Brown, griddled Black Hawk Farms burger and chile-rubbed hanger steak, said January Haskens, office manager for Clark. There is a full bar with beer on tap as well, with a wine list coming.

“Lots of hand-crafted, basics but done really well. Some hand-crafted street tacos, smoked brisket, duck-fat fries ... they’re going to have some great fish and chips on the menu,” Haskens said. “A lot of different price points, too.”

The restaurant will have a soft opening on Thursday and then a grand opening on St. Patrick’s Day, he said.

It will be open for dinner from 4 p.m. until “the duck flies” for now, with lunch service coming in April. Eventually, The Ruddy Duck Grille will be open six days a week, with brunch service on the weekends.

The downtown business climate is recovering with the historic courthouse reopening and CentrePointe now taking shape, Clark said.

“I want to be a participant in renaissance of downtown again,” Clark said. “It been stalled for five to seven years with CentrePointe and the courthouse under construction but the focus now is back on downtown ... I’m a firm believe that people will come back downtown.”

Cheapside closed after Halloween, posting a sign on the door saying it would be closed for the winter.

Then-owner Robin Campbell said that “the incredibly tough restaurant market here in Lexington in the last couple of years” prompted the closure “to reassess our business plan and goals.”