The past year or so has witnessed the addition of several new dining options to the downtown central business district. Some of the new stars include the Manhattan Grill in the Republic Building on 5th Street and Muhammad Ali Blvd., the Jimmy John’s sandwich shop on Jefferson Street between 4th and 5th Streets, the Dooley’s Bagels in the Henry Clay on 3rd Street, and the Wolfgang Puck Express on the corner of 3rd Street and Market Street.
Hot off the panini grill (as it were), Panera Breads has just opened on 4th Street in the Aegon Center Plaza. We stopped in today to see how business was doing, and whoa, we could barely get through the front door. Were it not raining and cold, the tables outside would have been packed as well. The line was a couple dozen deep (or so it seemed), and the restaurant space is deceivingly large, stretching north all the way to the Aegon Tower itself. Nearly every table in the place was occupied, so we snapped a photo and left.
Moving down 4th Street, we finally looked beyond those visit Ireland, it’s beautiful posters on the Hyatt Regency and noticed the Einstein Bros. Bagels ‘Coming Soon’ sign. The bagel shop is slated to open the second week of November, and judging by the interior construction work, they better keep moving! Hopefully (but sadly not likely), they will replace a few of the windows on the Hyatt plaza side with doors that could open to outdoor seating in the generally barren spot in front of the hotel.
Finally, we wrapped up our tour-de-downtown-food at the 4th Street Live food court, where Yum Brands will open a KFC-Taco Bell combo station. Not as exciting, yes, but still it will be the only KFC downtown in Kentucky’s largest city… now that’s kinda something? While a food court stall is slightly underwhelming, we’ve been pushing an international flagship KFC downtown. Something along the lines of those Asian mega-stores that’s huge (more than one floor) and open late, or better yet, all the time. Give us the KFC of KFCs where when Derby guests come to town, we can point and say, “That’s THE Kentucky Fried Chicken.”
Overall, the lunchtime (and to an extent dinner) food options downtown are improving dramatically. With the number of options now available, it would be a good time to live downtown and walk to the variety of eateries (ok, they are mostly chains, we know, but more options are better for now, right?). That means we need more people living downtown, which means we need more CBD housing, which means we need the economic crisis to end, which means we’ll be waiting a while. Hopefully the downtown workforce and tourist population can keep these businesses flourishing until then.
P.S. The Z’s Fusion restaurant is supposed to open next month on the corner of 4th and Market Streets and (big surprise) the 7th Street Manhattan Grill location has closed, so the only spot now is on 5th Street. Oh, and we asked the local 4th Street Live folks about the McCormick & Schmick’s upscale seafood restaurant once planned for the Starks Building, but they just stared back with blank expressions. No deal was ever formally signed, so we’ll see if this one still managed to get through.
- Panera Gets A Sign (Broken Sidewalk)
- Downtown Panera Bread Nearly Complete (Broken Sidewalk)
- New Manhattan Grill Opens (Broken Sidewalk)
- Manhattan Grill Expands To 5th Street (Broken Sidewalk)
- Upscale Restaurant Opening Soon Downtown (Broken Sidewalk)