A year of changes for local restaurants

Lexington, KY – Every year is a year of changes in that turbulent world called the restaurant industry. Throw in a lousy economy and that is a recipe for even more changes. In the greater Lexington region, 2009 was a year of closures, relocations, openings and brutal competitive discounting and deals.

One of the more notable events was Debbie Long’s decision to close Dudley’s at her Dudley Square location and relocate to a larger, higher-profile downtown location. This does leave open the question of whether another concept will open in the old location. To help finance her move, Long sold her Buddy’s location in Chevy Chase to Arron K. Rhodes.

Downtown seemed to be abuzz with restaurant, bar and entertainment activity this year as the city continues to evolve its “entertainment economy.”

Sandy Fields renovated her

Scarlet Lounge location and reopened as Silks. Steve Taylor took the old Lafayette Club location and opened Baker’s 360, serving lunch and then offering dinner and entertainment in the evenings. Cheapside Bar and Grill underwent a nice patio renovation, and across the street, Pulse Nightlife opened as a lounge, show bar and dance club. SKYBAR owner Vince Carlucci finally was able to overcome various obstacles and delays to open his top-floor bar concept at the corner of Main and Cheapside.

Other downtown openings included The Loft in Victorian Square and the SoundBar/Blu Lounge on South Limestone.

The South Limestone area had another nice addition with the opening of the Tin Roof, which is both a restaurant and entertainment venue.

Those and other businesses on the corridor had to endure a difficult final quarter as the city’s first streetscape project blocked all but trickles of vehicular traffic past their doors.

On Old Vine Street, the novel, no-alcohol Bar None concept opened in the spot vacated by Annette’s City Cafe.

Annette Jett and her husband, Frank Bickle, opened Frankie and Annette’s in the Signature Club, but will be vacating that location. The replacement had not been announced at press time.

On the western edge of downtown, the Lexington Distillery District continues to gather momentum with the 1,000-person capacity rock hall Buster’s opening in September of ’09. Unveiling an investment group’s letter of intent to establish a boutique bourbon distillery, cafe and visitor’s center in the historic Pepper Distillery building on Manchester Street, developer Barry McNees won a city commitment to bond $2.2 million in infrastructure improvements along the blighted corridor.

Outside of the downtown area there were plenty of changes in both the independent and chain sectors. The city of Midway,

Ky., lost a nice restaurant and venue with the closing of the Black Tulip.
However, Duggan’s has opened in its place, and just down the street, the EqWine wine shop opened and is contemplating a patio scene in the spring.

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