Happy 2021, fellow foodies and fun lovers!

The resounding takeaway from my last post of 2020 was:  TOO.  LONG.  Touché.  You see the thing is, I get all excited about big news on the horizon, then things continue to open and close, and I start to get a little overwhelmed, then before you know it my post includes 45 pieces of news, which is really hard to digest no matter how much you love to read up on local happenings.  So instead of marrying myself to a posting schedule and putting unnecessary pressure on what I consider to be a passion project, I’m just going to collect bite-size pieces of news and share them in smaller groupings more often.  Deal?  I think this is a strong start to the new year.  Bon appetite!

According to the rumor mill, Boonedogs Bar & Restaurant will open on January 23!  Chef Wyatt Sarbacker, the brainchild behind Favor Kitchen, curated the unconventional sausage menu consisting of venison, wild boar, pheasant, elk, and meatless options.  Fans of Raven Run and residents of southeast Fayette County will enjoy the location at the corner of Old Richmond Road and Jacks Creek Pike, in a former gas station.  While COVID-era restrictions continue to complicate operations, an acre of outdoor seating abounds (including a covered deck!), with large garage doors ready to open up when full-scale indoor seating becomes feasible once again.  In addition to sit-down dining, Boonedogs will offer a pick-up window and a convenience store with prepackaged items and bourbon, wine, and beer.

One of my boyfriend’s Christmas presents this year was Bluegrass Distillers’ cask strength, single barrel bourbon, unofficially dubbed ‘Puppy Van Winkle,’ as $25 from each bottle sold benefitted the Lexington Humane Society.  When I went to pick it up, news of the distillery’s expansion into Midway was hot off the presses, and I had a nice chat with my friend Kee Pyles, the Head Distiller.  He told me - you won’t believe this - that production capacity will increase from less than one barrel per day to approximately 20 barrels per 8 hour shift!  In addition to the expanded operations, the new location - opening this summer - will offer barrel warehouses, event spaces, and a visitor center.  Central to the property and the experience is the Elkwood Mansion, built in 1835 and part of the National Historic Register, which will serve as the tasting room, gift shop, and bar.

With Valentine’s Day just a few weeks away, lovers and sweet toothes alike should prepare to check out Chocomania in Georgetown!  This one-stop sugar shop boasts over 50 kinds of chocolate goodies from around the world, plus Turkish Delight; was I the only one who thought that was a fictional thing created for The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe?  The owners are passionate about liquor pairings, and therefore also sell wine and spirits for the ultimate take-home treat.  Be on the lookout for homemade baklava and other Mediterranean items coming soon, in addition to new and rotating stock each month.

I’ll be the first to admit that Maiden City Brewing has never been on my radar, nor has the apparent burgeoning tourist destination of Cynthiana, Kentucky!  In fact, all I know about Cynthiana can be summarized in one brief sentence:  It’s the home of Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, and it’s somewhere north of Paris.  And speaking of Paris, MCB is expanding with a new taproom, which will be coupled with Burnaco’s - a Tex Mex restaurant - and Churn and Brews, a coffee and ice cream shop.  Supporting this new operation will exceed the bandwidth of MCB’s current production capabilities, so they are also breaking ground on a brand new facility which will house a taproom, kitchen, event space, and outdoor seating.  The taproom in Paris is expected to open this summer, with the new brewery in Cynthiana slated for 2022, at which point the existing Pike Street location will close.

While most restaurants are battening down the hatches and trying their best to keep the doors open during these trying times, Papi’s Mexican Restaurant & Bar is enjoying yet another expansion of their brand!  In 2018, owner Marcos Valdes opened the first location in a former Rincon above Charlie Brown’s on Euclid Avenue, and in mid-2020 followed with Papi’s Rapido, a drive-thru on South Broadway.  Now he is full steam ahead with plans to open another full-service location next month in the forthcoming Fountains at Palomar, which will offer something neither of the previous restaurants do:  a huge partially-covered patio.  This location will provide a perfect funnel of at least three distinct customer types:  shoppers, area residents, and guests of the future hotel.  Although Papi’s is the first official tenant of the shopping center, if you read my last post of 2020 then you have a pretty good idea of who the next big restaurant announcement is rumored to be!