Come next summer, diners and just hanger-outers will have a new hangout down on the river.
“This one will be about beer,” said investor and attorney Chip Hamm, though he professes to not know the details of the as-yet-unnamed restaurant’s food concept. Doc Crow’s was about whiskey and bourbon, he explained, and La Coop about wine. “But they don’t let me anywhere near the kitchen.”
He’s referring to his partners in the renamed Falls City Hospitality Group — Michael and Steven Ton, who broughtBasa to Frankfort Avenue, master sommelier Brett Davis and chef Bobby Benjamin.
Steven Ton previously told Insider Louisville the waterfront restaurant will be a “sports-friendly concept with about 120 beers on tap, wines on tap, maybe even cocktails on tap.”
He described it as roadhouse type of food – buckets of seafood and burgers – sort of like the chain Yard House, but better. (Its menu includes burgers, street tacos, along with deviled eggs and turkey pot pie.)
Hamm admits he had his doubts when it was first suggested he meet with developer Steve Poe.
“Frankly, I thought it was a dumb idea,” he said of plans for the waterfront restaurant. He said initially they considered putting a bar in the historic house to be restored on the property, but have since decided on the new building whose foundation is going in now. The new restaurant will be at least twice the size of Doc Crow’s.
“The reason I pooh-poohed it in the first place was that I thought, ‘Who in the world is going to be down there?’ Then when I did the due diligence, when I did some research – when I say research, I mean I’ll just go sit in the car for some amount of time and look at traffic counts, watch people – where they’re going, where they’re coming from, who’s going to the bridge, who’s going to the restaurants. There were just a lot more people than I expected,” he said.
“There was one particular event, for the marina, and there must have been 400 people there. It was a marina event on a Wednesday when the weather was not that great. So what would happen on a summer day when the weather’s nice and you’ve got a lot more infrastructure built? That was even before the bridge opened ….
“I wasn’t sold initially, and I’m completely sold now,” he said.
The partners developed plans with the idea that their new restaurant would be a complement to the waterfront restaurant offerings, including the nearby Tumbleweed, though that restaurant is closing Saturday, Nov. 15, after a rent dispute with its landlords, the Waterfront Development Corp. and Waterweed LLC, which are looking for a new restaurant tenant for that site.
He said from his own experience, he believes people will spend more time on the waterfront if there are more amenities there.
“A lot of times when people are picking a restaurant, they pick an area, not just a destination. They’ll say, ‘Let’s go to NuLu’ or ‘Let’s go to Frankfort Avenue.’ They make a decision once they get there. They don’t necessarily pick it when they leave the house,” Hamm said.
Hamm will join Insider Louisville and discuss the new restaurant this week at Thursdays at RiverPark Place, 4:30-6:30 p.m., at Poe Companies’ offices, 1250 River Rd. Appetizers, beer and wine will be served.