What's In a Name? History.

A number of local watering holes and restaurants around downtown Lexington have opened in recent years or are set to open soon - several with historic sounding names.

Least among them, Shakespeare and Co. opened  in the old Clark Hardware Store last weekend. The "Victorian chic" restaurant reaches to circa 1600 with its name beckoning on of (if not the) greatest authors of the English language.

Local names, too, haven't been ignored.

Nick Ryan's Saloon on Jefferson Street adopted the same name as the saloon on North Mill Street circa 1905. It was then, in fact, a man named Nick Ryan who owned and operated his bar at what is now 120 North Mill Street.

Jefferson Davis InnMore famously, the Jefferson Davis Inn was originally located at West High and Limestone where the Confederate President lived while attending Transylvania University. A popular pub until it closed in 1984, the JDI is being reborn again on South Broadway in a mixed use development between Cedar and Pine Streets.

And then there is Lexington's most notable resident: Henry Clay. Clay owned the building on Jordan's Row from which he practiced law across from the courthouse at an address which is now 110-112 North Upper Street. (This isn't to be confused with the other existing Clay law office on North Mill Street.). There, work is finishing up on Henry Clay's Public House which bills itself as an "old world style pub" where service will include " a blend of todays and yesteryears classic cocktails, potations, and concoctions for the discerning bibulous patron, combined with a dash of american culture, historical heritage, and humorous anecdotes."

Historical heritage is alive in Lexington and it is plainly evident in the naming of our new establishments.


Anonymous said…
The old JDI closed sometime circa 1992, maybe 1993 after a fire broke out in a garbage can after closing. I suspect a smoldering cigarette was thrown in the can by employees rushing to leave for the evening. This was back when all bars in town closed at 1am. I know about this fire because my group of friends and I were walking past the establishment seeing flames engulf the inside dance/stage area. The building remained closed for one or two years, then reopened as some kind of professional office.

This was sad, because there was no better place in town to dance and see great local bands such as Born Cross Eyes, Catawampus, Ten Foot Pole, Candy Says. The old floor would bounce up and down like crazy when the crowd got going. Ahhh, the good old days.

And the other great thing about JDI was its ability to serve drinks to anyone appearing old enough to vote. As an 18 year old freshman at UK (fall 1991), I was stunned to find such a great bar that always let me have a drink or five!