Impellizzeri's Pizza to open on Main Street (BS File Photo)
Impellizzeri's Pizza to open on Main Street (BS File Photo)
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There has been a flurry of activity on the Downtown dining scene lately and 2010 could be one of the most exciting years for new restaurants opening up in the city core. Today’s roundup covers pizza, sushi, steaks, and all-American cuisine.

First, Louisville HotBytes broke the news that Impellizzeri’s Pizza will open a huge new location at 110 West Main Street within a block of the new arena. The new 9,000 square foot restaurant is next door to Prime Lounge and across the street from the new Patrick O’Shea’s. Here are a few details from HotBytes:

We are currently planning on having space for private dining/catering. We will also have live entertainment. Of course with that amount of room there will be much more seating and a larger bar area. This location will also be open for lunch. We are currently working on products and equipment that will speed up service for lunch. We plan to open Oct 1st.

The 110 Building is an old parking garage and was renovated several years ago. At the time, there were plans to open an upscale cigar lounge there but the smoking ban took effect and the space has been vacant ever since. So far, Impellizzeri’s joins Patrick O’Shea’s, Hog n’ Char, Sol Aztecas, Prime, Bearno’s and the BBC in establishing a new Arena District.

Sapporo to open on Fourth Street (BS File Photo)
Sapporo to open on Fourth Street. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

Gabe Bullard at WFPL’s The Edit has been following the development of a new Sapporo restaurant on Fourth Street at the site of the old Cafe Kilimanjaro. The hut in the picture above has been removed and a rendering posted at The Edit shows a larger hut will take its place. Here are a few details:

This sign is up in the window of the new development. It looks like the old door to Songs For Seba will be turned into a window, and the Cafe Kilimanjaro entrance will be the front door, behind a new gate from the sidewalk. There’s a stone wall going up to the sidewalk and a larger hut behind it to cover outdoor seating.

Eddie Merlot's to open on Fourth Street (BS File Photo)
Eddie Merlot’s to open on Fourth Street. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

Plans were announced in January regarding the new upscale steakhouse Eddie Merlot’s slated for the Starks Building at Fourth Street and Muhammad Ali, but it’s back in the news this week as it could receive a $300,000 loan from the city to get started. (Metro Council was set to vote on that last night—anyone know the result? Or else the next METCO meeting is March 4.) The Fort Wayne, IN based chain will occupy 11,500 square feet and could be open in July or August.

At $3 million, the new restaurant is going to be pretty fancy. Eddie Merlot’s keeps their interiors light and filled with art to appeal to a female demographic and it’s likely going to be quite ornate with a grand entrance. According to reports in January, Louisville’s Eddie Merlot’s is unique in that the chain usually opens up shop in the suburbs, but Louisville’s Downtown was strong enough for owner Bill Humphrey’s to try an urban concept.

The new restaurant joins the Colonnade Cafeteria which announced last year that it would be returning to the Starks Building after a stint on East Broadway at the defunct Louisville Antique Mall. The corner retail spot taken by Merlot’s has been vacant since Rodes, a clothing store, moved to the suburbs several years ago. Plans for an upscale seafood restaurant, McCormick & Schmick’s, fell through as did an arrangement with the Cordish Company to expand Fourth Street Live.

BBC to open on Main Street (BS File Photo)
BBC to open on Main Street. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

Finally, the Bluegrass Brewing Company is currently working on renovating a two-story space at Third and Main Streets directly across from the arena into a $1.4 million restaurant and bar. BBC owners Patrick & Lamont Hagan have brought Jeff Rawlins of Architectural Artisans on board to design the restaurant including a new handicap accessible entrance on Third Street.

Plans include a more casual micro-brewery and bar in the basement and a nicer restaurant space on the second floor. The basement will house the main entrance and will feature brick walls in addition to visible brewery equipment. An elevator and stairs will lead to the second floor which still has original molding on the ceiling and offers wide open spaces with large windows.

Rawlins explained that it was crucial not to harm the architecturally significant 1890s era structure. He has inserted a 21-inch ramp to allow a set of doors to fit perfectly under the massive stone lintel of the basement level. Plans also show a new sign to be mounted above the door on the building’s middle bay on Third Street.

Planned entry to the new BBC (Courtesy Architectural Artisans)
Planned entry to the new BBC (Courtesy Architectural Artisans)
Inside the BBC space (Courtesy Architectural Artisans)
Inside the BBC space. (Courtesy Architectural Artisans)
BBC from Third Street (Courtesy Architectural Artisans)
BBC from Third Street. (Courtesy Architectural Artisans)
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Branden Klayko

6 COMMENTS

  1. Not sure if the loan was granted, am new to following the happenings of the Metro Council but two other issues you mentioned previously, the rezoning of the Mastersons block and the parking waiver had favorable outcomes.

  2. I don’t want to jump to conclusions in the usual internet fashion. I don’t know the facts myself, but I am wondering if it is true that of the recent restaurant developments downtown, only the one from a national chain was given a loan?

  3. Other new local restaurants received loans as well. Here’s what I know:

    Name…Est. Const. Price…Loan Amount
    Eddie Merlot’s…$3m…$300K (10%)
    BBC…$1.4M…$50K (3.6%)
    Crush/Cask 55…$1.4M…$50K (3.6%)
    Hog n’ Char…???…$120K
    The Blind Pig…???…$60K
    DT Qdoba…???…$50K

    I don’t have construction numbers for all of them, but it does look like Merlot’s is getting a little more than the locals. That site on 4th/Ali has been a sore spot for the City and has been vacant for years. I think they are probably trying to fill the spot (essentially in 4SL) doing whatever it takes.

    At least it’s not a big national chain. I think they have ~4 existing restaurants but they are planning to double in size this year.

    I believe Patrick O’Shea’s went without loans and I haven’t heard anything about Sapporo or Impellizzeri’s or Sol Aztecas among others.

  4. Thanks, Branden. I didn’t want to go all conspiratorial without any facts… a tendency I see all too often.

  5. Thanks for all the info. This new arena scene is going to be really good for downtown. I think we desperately need a "local scene" downtown.

  6. Walked through Theater Square yesterday for lunch, and construction is busily underway for the new Sapporo…

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