Tom Eblen: Local businesses are worthy of our patronage and thanks

Tom Eblen
Tom Eblen

Let us now give thanks for Kentucky's locally owned businesses.

Yes, I know Thanksgiving was last week. But the holiday season is a good time to acknowledge, appreciate and patronize Kentucky companies and those special mom-and-pop shops.

I was reminded of this Wednesday when our younger daughter came home from New York City for the holiday. Shannon wanted to be met with fresh doughnuts from Spalding's Bakery.

On her way in from Louisville, where a friend picked her up at the airport, she was stopping at Rebecca Ruth Candies outside Frankfort to get bourbon balls. They would be dessert after we went for lunch at Bourbon n' Toulouse.

Late that afternoon, Shannon wanted me to take her to West Sixth Brewing Co. Another day, I said, we need to go to Country Boy Brewing. But if there isn't time this trip, there's usually Kentucky Ale in the refrigerator. Thanks to Lexington's many fine new brewers, plus places such as The Beer Trappe and Lexington Beerworks, there's no excuse for drinking commodity beer.

That discussion led to plans for Saturday morning breakfast from North Lime Coffee & Donuts. That new business was just getting ready to open the last time Shannon was in town, and the owners gave us samples from their test run.

Lexington has so many great places to eat, it's no wonder I have to put in a couple of thousand miles a year on my bicycles to keep from getting fatter than I am.

I live within a short walk or bike ride of Spalding's and Magee's bakeries. When I drive to Versailles, my car seems to steer itself into Doughdaddy's. And I can never go to Danville without picking up a bag of gingerbread men from Burke's Bakery.

I rise before dawn a couple of mornings each week from late spring until mid-fall for a 25-mile bike ride with friends, followed by a country-ham biscuit and coffee at Windy Corner Market. No ride to Midway is complete without lunch at Wallace Station, just as Rick's White Light Diner is a must-stop on a ride to Frankfort.

Other lunch favorites include Mr. Kabab, Stella's Deli, Natasha's, Charlie's Seafood (home of Lexington's biggest and best fried fish sandwich), Ramsey's and Bangkok House. Most of the owners know me; some even recognize my voice when I call in takeout orders.

Nobody makes a better $3 sandwich than Wilson's Grocery & Meats. And I'm constantly finding great new food trucks. (Lexington needs to make it easier to patronize food trucks; they don't so much compete with restaurants as create a more dynamic food scene that attracts more patrons to all eating establishments.)

When it comes to dinner, Lexington has so many great restaurants it takes us forever to make the rounds to them all: Grey Goose, Dudley's, Nick Ryan's, Joe Bologna's, Pazzo's, Table Three Ten, Portofino, Goodfellas, Jonathan's, Mary Lou's BBQ, Yamamoto, Rincon, Mi Pequeña Hacienda, Billy's Bar-B-Q and Sal's Chophouse. I'm sure I'm leaving out a dozen others.

In the grander scheme of eating and drinking, Kentucky is blessed with many local farms, vineyards, bourbon distilleries and country ham processors. Plus local farmers markets and retailers such as Good Foods, Corner Wine, Liquor Barn, Wines on Vine and Wine + Market.

Aside from food, local businesses offer Kentuckians goods and services that the big national chains can't match.

While renovating an old house this past year, I became a regular at every home-improvement store in town. But I finally discovered that if Chevy Chase Hardware doesn't have it, I probably don't need it.

I take my dry cleaning to Sonny's in Chevy Chase, alterations to the Button Hole. My cars have kept running thanks to Lowell's, Georgia's Service Center and B&W Automotive. Then I think about all of the local book stores, florists, repair shops, contractors and tradesmen too numerous to mention that I have patronized in recent years.

I'm sure you have a similar list of local businesses for which you are thankful. If you want to share them, leave a comment on this column on or my blog at

Happy holidays.