Just following the numbers makes clear that Louisville’s restaurant scene continues to thrive. In this rundown, we’re listing 27 new dining choices — 16 new businesses and 11 new locations for existing companies — while removing only 11 listings, three of which are multiple location businesses closing one location each.
Diners who like to check out new places have nearly unlimited choices: stylish wine and cocktail bars offering small plates; ethnic choices from Vietnamese to Indian to Nepalese to Cajun; pizza places and sushi and vegetarian — and the options continue to grow.
In our efforts to keep our fingers on the pulse of the restaurant scene, we are tracking 26 restaurants (11 will be expansions of current businesses) that we can now confirm are actively working to open by the end of the summer or early fall. In short, we’re seeing yet another restaurant growth surge that could total as many as 50 new operations opening in a six month window.
Among those future listings are new concepts by familiar names: Whiskey Dry, a whiskey bar and restaurant in 4th Street Live by Edward Lee (610 Magnolia, Milkwood) and Butchertown Pizza Hall by Allan Rosenberg (formerly of Papalino’s Pizza, Fontleroy’s and Anoosh Bistro). And we are rooting for the resurrection of two business names that have been absent for a bit: Kaelin’s return to its original Newburg Rd. home, and El Camino’s reincarnation in Germantown. But those are in the future. Let’s return to the present — we’re hungry now.
Wine enthusiasts will have a new place to expand their oenological knowledge and experience in Cuvée Wine Table, open at 3598 Springhurst Blvd., in the former Papalino’s space. The new restaurant is a project of Master Sommelier Scott Harper and his partners in the Bristol Bar & Grille. Harper plans to serve up to 55 wines by the glass, focused on “value” wines poured at moderate prices. (Harper thinks the most expensive glass will run about $25.) Daily happy hours will run from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Executive chef Edoardo Bacci, last at Brasserie Provence, has developed a seasonal menu combining charcuterie, cheeses, salads, snacks, small plates, flatbreads and sandwiches.
If sipping cocktails in an urbane setting is more your style, then our fair city’s other Master Sommelier, Brett Davis, is providing a fine experience at Red Herring Cocktail Lounge and Kitchen in Clifton, at 1757 Frankfort Ave. Davis and his partner Mo Deljoo have renovated the Hilltop Theater building into a sleek modern design that plays well with the interior’s original architectural details. Jacob Coronado, formerly chef at 8UP, created a variety of small plates and handheld foods to complement the cocktail program put together by Clay Livingston, also an 8UP alum. (The wine list will be overseen by Davis, of course.) Red Herring’s main bar is overlooked by an upper mezzanine and a shady side patio.
Also new in the Clifton area at 2319 Brownsboro Rd. is Chik’n & Mi, which specializes in Asian-style fried chicken tossed in tapioca and rice flour before frying. Jason McCollum, who has cooked at Momofuku in New York City and operates the restaurant with his Laotian wife and chef, Aenith, offers an eclectic menu drawn from a variety of Asian cuisines, including Japanese and Lao.
Out in Anchorage, Tom Edwards is finally opening Mozza Pi, his long-anticipated pizza place alongside his Louismill flour milling, bakery and baking school business at 12102 La Grange Rd. He first used a wood-burning oven to bake pizzas on his food truck, and he tows it to off-premise events. But Edwards has built a larger wood-burning oven inside Mozza Pi, which he uses to bake his interpretation of Neapolitan-style pizza.
At this point, we should add that two other restaurants whose pending openings we mentioned last issue — but which ran into delays — are now serving. Geoffrey Heyde converted the space at 2244 Frankfort Ave., home for a decade to Basa Modern Vietnamese, into his own American-style restaurant, Fork & Barrel. New York restaurateur and Italy native, Rocco Cadolini, took two years to convert the former Butterfly Garden Café at 1327 Bardstown Rd. into his ROC Restaurant. Cadolini is serving classic and modern Italian cuisine.
Several other ethnic restaurants are joining the scene around town. Come June, Pho Café will serve, of course, pho alongside other casual Vietnamese dishes at 1704 Bardstown Rd. Chef Tuan Phan, who cooked for 18 years at Asiatique, is chef-owner, running his first concept in the space vacated this past winter by Tom + Chee. Further out in Buechel, at 3825 Bardstown Rd., Kathmandu Kitchen & Bar is serving Nepalese cuisine. In St. Matthews, the Indian restaurant Tikka House now occupies much of the space long home to Majid’s at 3930 Chenoweth Sq.
Another pizza spot, Firenza Pizza, has opened in the Shops at Forest Springs development at 12406 La Grange Rd. Out in Middletown, owners of Jasmine Chinese have taken over a neighboring space and opened Tsubaki Sushi & Bar next door, at 13825 English Villa Dr. (Insider tip: You can eat there or have sushi made there served next door at Jasmine.)
Back in town, an American ethnic cuisine, Cajun and Creole, will be found at Geechee Bayou, 1161 S. Second St., in the space that was briefly Slice deli. Downtown at 434 W. Jefferson St., Pita Pit will
provide Mediterranean/Middle Eastern lunch options.
Two new bars and grills join the mix. At the Post Sports Bar & Grill has opened at 3701 Hopewell Rd. In the heart of St. Matthews, Sullivan’s Tap House is drawing drafts and serving upscale bar food in the former Bluegrass Brewing Co. building at 3929 Shelbyville Rd.
For those desiring lighter lunch fare, Lexington-based Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen has opened at 203 N. Hurstbourne Pkwy., and a vegan spot, Morels Café, has opened at 619 Baxter Ave. In Prospect, Kristin Fults, former owner of the Meridian Café, has opened Melrose Café at 13206 Hwy. 42, serving modern American dishes at breakfast, lunch and brunch. And the last new business to mention is Delectabites Bakery Café at 8683 Preston Hwy., which offers cakes and cake bites, lunch and breakfast sandwiches and scratch soups.
Several businesses have deemed the present environment ripe for expansion. Our count of 11 such businesses is a bit skewed, since Urban Bread Company accounts for three of the 11 lines in our listings. This ambitious company, originally called Hub Roti, specializes in wrapped sandwiches that are taco-gyro hybrids, but based on roti, an Indian flatbread, and topped eclectically, to say the least. In addition to moving to a larger central bakery and restaurant at 1000 Auction Way in Jeffersonville, from its 716 E. Tenth St. location in Jeffersonville, Urban Bread Co. has also taken over the kitchen at Flat 12 Bierwerks at 130 W. Riverside Dr. in Jeffersonville, becoming the food supplier for the newly opened second outlet for Match Cigar Bar at 151 E. Main St. in New Albany.
Those who like chicken dinners can find more of them at Rooster’s fifth outlet at 5338 Bardstown Rd.; at Dixie Chicken’s third store at 8118 Preston Hwy.; and at the second King’s Chicken outlet at 5603 Preston Hwy.
The twelfth Bearno’s Pizza store has opened in Middletown, at 13829 English Villa Dr., and the third FireFresh BBQ is now smoking in Mall St. Matthews, 5000 Shelbyville Rd.
Two Mexican restaurants have added second stores. The newest Fiesta Time Amigos is at 135 S. English Station Rd. and another Las Gorditas has opened at 8402 Hudson Ln. And New Albany has a new Sweet Frog yogurt store at 302 Pearl St.
The most notable of the restaurants that have closed since F&D’s last issue is Barbara Lee’s Kitchen, 2410 Brownsboro Rd. The 24-hour home-style diner had been a long-time fixture in the local restaurant scene, garnering a passel of dedicated regulars and becoming the go-to place to experience an empathetic cross-section of Louisville society. Barbara Lee’s peculiar contributions to the local dining scene will be missed.
Two Chinese restaurants have closed recently: Empress of China, at 2249 Hikes Ln., and Legend of China at 9415 Norton Commons Blvd. Two other ethnic restaurants that have ceased operation are Shandaar Indian Restaurant at 1801 Priority Way, and Burning Bush Grille & Mediterranean Café at 13206 Hwy. 42 in Prospect.
Three other restaurants closing include Johnny V’s pizzeria at 10509 Watterson Trail, Downhome Cafeteria at 2605 Rockford Ln., and Healthy Eating, in the Heyburn building at 332 W. Broadway.
Three multiple-location businesses closing single outlets include (the reportedly temporary shutdown) Z’s Oyster Bar & Steakhouse location at 115 S. Fourth St. The extensive demolition and reconstruction of the Kentucky International Convention Center has created such upheaval in traffic patterns on Fourth and Market Streets that business, especially the noontime walk-in crowd, plummeted. Dinner time traffic also seemed eager to get past the construction site or avoid it entirely. Z’s original location at 101 Whittington Pkwy. remains in operation.
Brownie’s The Shed Bar & Grille has closed its outlet at 1578 Bardstown Rd., but its two other locations, at 237 Whittington Pkwy. and 826 W. Main St. in New Albany continue to pour. The Mellow Mushroom pizza chain has closed its store at 805 Blankenbaker Pkwy., but continues to sling pies in the Highlands and in St. Matthews.
And finally, a few businesses have decided to change, either in focus, ownership, or location. One of the most conspicuously upscale eating places in town, Corbett’s: An American Place, 5050 Norton Healthcare Blvd. at Old Brownsboro Crossing, has scaled back the formality by dedicating half its dining room to casual dining. There are large comfortable chairs, small tables, sofas and big pillows that give the space an almost den-like feel. Owner Dean Corbett is calling this renovation “Jack’s Lounge,” mirroring the low-key eating and drinking space he owns in St. Matthews. Corbett has concluded that the era of white tablecloth fine dining is diminishing, but if you want that, turn left, not right, as you come into the door. There, you’ll find Corbett’s is still offering a formal dining experience if you choose it.
Two other notable changes have been made in ownership, if not in style. Clay Wallace has sold Café Lou Lou, 106 Sears Ave., to Jared Matthews, who plans few changes aside from adding more Cajun-themed items and lighter fare to the menu. Louis’s The Ton, the quirky little bar in Butchertown at 1601 Story Ave., has been sold to Isaiah Hoagland, who also owns Linden Hill bed and breakfast, an historic property he is renovating nearby. Hoagland says that he intends to spruce the interior up a bit but otherwise keep the character of the idiosyncratic neighborhood bar.
And finally, Shark’s Fish & Chicken has moved from 2001 S. Seventh St. to 3099 Breckenridge Ln., and has changed its name to Shark’s Seafood, to clarify its new menu emphasis. Dasha Barbour’s Southern Bistro has moved from 3825 Bardstown Rd. to 2217 Steier Ln., in Buechel. F&D