COVINGTON — Covington city leaders hope the landmark Waterfront restaurant will be part of the redevelopment of the city's riverfront. Owner Jeff Ruby, however, has yet to commit.
The Waterfront hasn't reopened since it partly broke loose of its moorings in March during high water. Since then, Ruby and the city have hired consultants and studied the costs of reopening.
City officials suggested the former Covington Landing site and estimated it would cost $2 million. Covington declined to foot the bill, causing Ruby to look at other locations, including Newport.
The Waterfront structure was temporarily moored at Covington Landing, but it was towed back to its original dock below the Clay Wade Bailey bridge, where it sits today.
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Covington this month sent out about 40 requests for proposals to develop its riverfront.
Ruby said he resents having to go through the process. He said he's seen little help from Covington to reopen the Waterfront, and he said his track record in the city speaks for itself. Pressures, including new restaurants in coming months in Dayton and Cincinnati, make the RFP process onerous, he said.
"I've negotiated in good faith with the city of Covington," said Ruby, who earlier this year expressed interest in opening a restaurant in Lexington. "It has gotten nowhere."
Ruby said he wants to reopen the Waterfront, which he has described as his sentimental favorite in his stable of restaurants. But the costs — including insurance on the floating structure that outdistances his other restaurants combined — hinder reopening, he said.
"We haven't decided yet," Ruby said. "It comes back to the economy. I'd like to reopen it. The public has played a role in this. The good people of Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky have asked me every day when am I reopening the Waterfront. It has meant a lot to the community. More than I thought. I was touched by that."
Covington officials want a reopened Waterfront, whether on land or water, said City Manager Larry Klein: "We love Jeff Ruby and want him to remain in business here in Covington."