Over a century and change since it was built, the Old Louisville Inn is getting a makeover that will bring it into the 21st century -- but with its spirit intact. At least, so hopes J Fred Burns, one of the Inn's new owners. "We decided we wanted to take the original building, open up as much of it as we could and expose it to the public," Burns says. "We're trying to do something that really shows off the character of the original building."
Enter 740 Front, an "American Dining Saloon" that will bring a taste of the past to Louisville. See also: The Blue Parrot, Colorado's Oldest Italian Restaurant, Gets a Facelift -- at 85/em>
Burns and partner Chip Pickard both grew up in Colorado, and decided to explore restaurant opportunities here after 25 years in the business in the Bay area. Last October they stumbled on the Old Louisville Inn -- only a few minutes after Landlord Steve Sims put up a sign announcing that the restaurant had closed. Sims gave them a tour of the place, showing off its vintage charm, complete with spit trough and stunning, Brunswick-style bar -- and they knew it was the project they had been looking for. "It was kind of ironic how it worked out. It just felt like one of those deals that was meant to be," Burns says.
The Inn is a designated historic landmark in Louisville, and the city is contributing funds to the building's redevelopment. That means Burns and his team have a mandate to bring back the original character. "Our obligation is to bring the building back to its original look, when it was built in 1904," Burns says. "When we looked at the building, we wanted to do something that was appropriate to the space, that fit in there. And our first reaction was, 'Wow, this is a steakhouse.'"
And they plan to keep some wild West flavor in the new kitchen headed up by Pickard. "We're calling it an 'American Dining Saloon,' because it originally was a saloon...and we're going to do predominantly American-style food. Steaks, seafood, a little Italian," Burns says. The partners are currently renovating the space, and looking at opening 740 Front early next year, maybe in January or February.
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