January 30, 2017

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Steve Siler is a song writer, and founder and director of Music for the Soul, a non-profit music ministry. He is writing this column on behalf of Downtown Frankfort, Inc., a Kentucky Main Street program.


There’s More Than Just Bourbon at Bourbon on Main

Main Street Pub and Eatery Brings Big City Vibe to Downtown.

As someone who has always had a passion for what I do, I recognize that passion in others.  That's what I experienced when I sat down recently with Taylor Marshall and Kelly May, co-owners of Bourbon on Main.

"A gastro pub," is how Marshall describes the establishment. 

"It's craft beer, craft cocktails, and craft culinary," says May, also the general manager.

The pair struggled to define the menu. "It's eccentric in the right way. Our chef Anthony Peluso was classically trained. The kitchen is his playground. Everything is hand-made. If we have a salad dressing, it's purposeful."

As I sampled the Taco Quesadilla and the Indian Butter Chicken, a conversation with Peluso confirmed that fact. He brings creativity to the process, interested in providing new tastes that can be found nowhere else in the city.

Of course with a name like Bourbon on Main you'd expect the beverage menu to be special and you'd be right. “We have one hundred-plus Bourbons in stock, twelve craft beers on draft, and eight signature cocktails, all with fresh ingredients," says May.

As a former resident of both Los Angeles and Nashville, Bourbon on Main has something else I have found nowhere else in Frankfort. Vibe.

I couldn’t help but notice an excellent selection of blues music playing in the background during my visit.

Marshall says, "We wanted to create something that would be comparable to an experience in Cincinnati or New York. We wanted that place to be in downtown Frankfort."

I think they’ve succeeded.

The brick walls feature original art. One wall features bourbon barrel lids representing distillers from around the region. There is table seating downstairs and some limited seating at the bar. Upstairs there is seating for another one hundred guests. There is seasonal dining on the back patio with a fabulous view of the river and the capital dome.

Located at 103 W. Main St., the venue is a bit of a hybrid. At lunchtime, between 11:00 and 2:30, patrons order at the counter and the food is brought out to them when it's ready. At dinnertime, guests seat themselves at the table of their choosing, from which they order and are served. Entrées range from around $11.95 to $14.95. There are no tablecloths. The setting is casual and classy at the same time.

The venue is also available for booking events. My server Chelsea had just gotten married the week before and rented the upstairs space for her wedding reception.

"We want people think of downtown as a place to go," said May. “It’s important for downtown to be seen as an entertainment district. Everyone needs to put their best foot forward. The question we ask ourselves is ‘What are they going to say when they leave?’ "

"We must have something customers want. We have no parking. But they are finding parking!" exclaimed May.

May and Marshall credit the parents of their childhood friends with keeping them going during the early days. "We want you to succeed. We are going to keep you open!" they would say.

"That’s the beauty of a small town. The beauty of local,” says Marshall. "You're going to make mistakes when you do a startup and we made our share. But they kept us going.”

During the summer, tourism accounts for about fifty per cent of their business. But community support is important, especially in the winter months.

In general, business is good but there's no complacency. "Now the question is, ‘How do we make this better?’" says May.

Bourbon on Main will celebrate its second anniversary in four months and the future is bright. "This is our first restaurant.  It's really hard. But everyone is committed.”

The commitment is working. Treat yourself and stop by for dinner or lunch at Bourbon on Main soon – an establishment that is truly helping to make downtown Frankfort special.


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