Downtown Lunch: Now With More Options Than Ever

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    Inside Panera Breads
    Inside Panera Breads. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

    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.

    Einstein Bagels Will Be Right Here
    Einstein Bagels Will Be Right Here. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

    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.

    Future Site of KFC & Taco Bell
    Future Site of KFC & Taco Bell. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

    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 Bread Opens
    Panera Bread Opens. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
    Einstein Bagels Construction Zone
    Einstein Bagels Construction Zone. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
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    Branden Klayko

    3 COMMENTS

    1. The KFC in downtown Louisville is a big deal. I’ve heard tourists mention this before. Of course, some of them think the tops Mr. Schneider’s Waterfront Plaza buildings resemble the top of a KFC and so those towers can sometimes be passed off as the KFC HQ. Maybe that’s what Al had in mind. He was fairly “inventive” when it came to style.

    2. I am so excited to get einsteins downtown. Since I moved here two years ago I miss my morning bagel from einsteins. And I just love the pumpkin bagels they make this time of year.

    3. not to knock einstein's, but there's always the local not-chain nancy's bagel grounds, frankfort or fourth street. been known to have pumpkin in the past, too!

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