Business

Willie's Locally Known moving to Southland, getting new chef

Bluegrass artists Valarie and Dave Mayfield performed last year at Willie's Locally Known, a music venue and barbecue restaurant.
Bluegrass artists Valarie and Dave Mayfield performed last year at Willie's Locally Known, a music venue and barbecue restaurant. Lexington Herald-Leader

Willie's Locally Known, a barbecue restaurant and popular live music venue, is moving from North Broadway to Southland Drive. The restaurant closed last week after almost four years.

The new site, at 286 Southland, formerly Show-Me's, won't be ready to reopen until January, owner Wilson Sebastian said. The ownership is working with Natasha's Bistro and other places to find spots for previously scheduled concerts, but some shows will have to be canceled, Sebastian said. New venues will be announced on Willie's Facebook page as soon as possible.

Sebastian said the new site, which was bought with new investors from the Mint Julep Group, the partnership behind Coba Cocina and Cheddar's, will be much bigger and have better parking and an expanded menu.

"We're super excited about the neighborhood," Sebastian said. "It's a great place for independently owned businesses, like Marikka's, Winchell's and Good Foods Co-op. It's got a lot of soul, and Willie's fits in."

He said the owners were bringing in a new chef, Tanner Stiff, who has his own barbecue catering business and previously worked with chef Jonathan Lundy, who is now at Coba.

Lots of great spots to eat, drink for Lexington Breeders' Cup crowds

"We're really excited; he's a super-talented chef," Sebastian said. The menu will continue to feature barbecue and Southern soul food but will add items, including Kentucky burgoo, beer cheese and more salads.

"And we're going to do some funky things, like Nashville hot chicken," he said.

He also said they would have "a strong oyster presence. We'll shuck oysters at the bar."

The new Willie's will have 24 beers on tap instead of 10, he said.

Seating will go from 65 seats at tables to 167 seats at tables, plus 10 bar seats and 60 or 70 seats outside.

Willie's Locally Known also will be featured on chef Michael Symon's Food Network series, Burgers Brew & 'Que, in February or March. The episode was filmed two weeks ago, right before the old restaurant closed.

Willie's has presented a mix of local and national Americana and bluegrass music, and the new venue will continue to present music. Sebastian said the larger size probably would allow Willie's to book bigger acts.

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