A la lucie at 159 North Limestone will end an era in Lexington dining when it closes November 30. The building that has housed it for the past 31 years has been sold, and chef/owner Lucie Slone says “it’s time to move on.” She opened in 1985, on Halloween, her favorite Holiday, at a time when larger-than-life women chefpreneurs weren’t yet trendy in Lexington (or anywhere else). A longtime anchor of downtown dining, most of what we wrote in a 1990 review of a la lucie is still true today (though the prices included in the 1990 review have changed a little):
“a la lucie is a noisy, lively place. Smack in the middle of downtown on North Limestone across from the big post office and court house; it has a cosmopolitan feeling unique in Lexington. If you want a quiet evening in some undiscovered spot with soft music and relaxed ambiance, go somewhere else. But if you want to be in an exciting, almost boisterous atmosphere which, in many respects, has some of the best food in town, a la lucie is for you.
It is the definition of eclectic: dark pink and orange walls with dark green trim; randomly placed pictures of just about everything including a huge portrait of Lucie herself; white linen table cloths, Fiesta dinnerware and cafeteria flatware, and blinking lights around the windows adds to the festive mood.”
Though the kitsch may feel a little dated now, this tiny pink palace defined small, quirky, and pricey for Lexingtonians in search of shabby chic eclectic fine dining when it opened in 1985. The fried-green-tomato BLT is still a great lunch, and people-watching across the street from the Courthouse rarely disappoints.
As she puts it, she’s always collected “food and flavors,” the same way she collects the ephemera that surrounds diners at her flagship restaurant. She’s not retiring though, or leaving the restaurant business; she just plans to open a new concept, farther down Limestone in Lexington’s emerging NoLi corridor. I’m very “sad about leaving… I like this corner. There’s a lot of history here for me, and part of me doesn’t want to go, but it’s time to move, and I’m excited about this new place. I’ll be moving uptown.”
She’s always been a Lexington restaurant pioneer (successfully taking fine dining to the southside suburbs with the now defunct Roy and Nadine’s, for example), so an emerging neighborhood might be just the right fit. The concept for Lucie’s Red Light is a menu centered around “boards, bowls, and burgers, and of course bourbon.” Ramen, soba, soups, and stews will be included. But for those who aren’t ready to give up their a la lucie fix just yet, she has hinted that a few of her signature dishes like Lucie’s fried chicken, might make the new menu.
Slone plans to transform the empty corner garage of North Limestone and Loudon into an eclectic meeting place to dine and be social; it will feature a mermaid bar and plenty of open air dining. The project has been backburnered since the purchase of the building back in 2009, but with the pending closing of a la lucie on Nov. 30, it has become Slone’s new focus, and expenditures on the project have increased with a mandated (and pricey) underground grease trap and vent hood.
A Kickstarter has been created to help underwrite some of the startup expenses, with a goal of $43,000. (Kickstarter has become a common source of raising restaurant capital in Lexington; Middle Fork Kitchen Bar in the Distillery District is a recent successful example.)
“Lucie’s Last Dance,” the final meal at a la lucie, is scheduled for Monday, November 30. Slots at that dinner will be available as a Kickstarter perk for those who make significant contributions to the campaign.
Help fund Lucie’s new adventure here.
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