Restaurateurs bet on new ventures, remodels despite economy


Lexington, KY – What do you do when faced with the worst economic environment in decades? You open a restaurant, of course.
In the face of this current economic downturn, some restaurateurs are indeed mustering the financial fortitude to launch new ventures or reinvest in their business. Let’s start with the bold and innovative. A few weeks ago, the Nicaraguan Latin Grill opened in Nicholasville on 1001 Elizabeth Drive. It is adjacent to the Shell station near the Toyota dealership. This is a neat little restaurant that offers authentic Latin American cuisine in a casual atmosphere and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I tried the lomo de cerdo asado, which is charbroiled pork loin marinated with achoite. This imparted a distinctive flavor that I could easily get addicted to. The restaurant is owned by Nigel Vaneges, and several family members are involved in the business including his sister, Linda. I encourage anyone to give this place a try for great authentic Latin cuisine and friendly service. This is the type of restaurateur entrepreneurship that inspires.
Next, there are some notable makeovers in historic Midway. Laura Wolfrom’s Bistro Labelle closed for two weeks in January for some light makeover work and reopened recently. Just a few doors down, the Quirk CafÈ has also undergone a makeover. Further down on Main Street, while not a restaurant, Mary Hickey moved her Simple Elegance gift and home accessories store and has given her new location a wonderful new look – plus she has additional plans for the store later this year. These are positive optimistic moves that illustrate business confidence.

There are some local franchise operators who are planning expansion in the market, and some other national operations making plans to open in Lexington. This also indicates confidence. Plus, the fact is right now is an opportune time to negotiate favorable lease terms with landlords. Rob Perez, owner of Saul Good Pub, is contemplating growth with a second restaurant, the location of which is still to be determined. Other bullish operations include Cheapside Bar and Grill, which is giving its patio area a makeover. Some other things are in the works but currently “hush-hush” confidential.
On the bar scene front, Sandy Fields is renovating the building that housed her Scarlett Lounge concept at 125 North Mill Street. Renovations have commenced, and upon reopening, it will be called SILKS Lounge, appointed with jockey silks and other racing-related memorabilia. The bar is next door to Sandy’s Rosebud Bar (Rosebud was a 1914 Derby winner). The 125 North Mill Street location has some interesting history, which is discussed in a small sidebar piece that accompanies this article.
I continually learn of interesting restaurant, food and beverage news tidbits in the Bluegrass and beyond. Many of these I post on my blog, The Sievers Bluegrass Food Biz Buzz I encourage you to check it on occasion. In addition, I have several links on that blog that foodies and food business people may find particularly useful.

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