Lexington woke to the news this morning that culinary icon Lucie Wellinghurst Slone Meyers has died at the age of 68, after battling lung cancer.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray recalled her “irrepressible spirit,” and ability to make “everyone feel special,” adding “she loved and understood what’s special and unique about Lexington.”
A la lucie at 159 North Limestone ended an era in Lexington dining when it closed in the fall of 2015. The building that housed it for 31 years was sold, and Meyers said it was “time to move on,” throwing her energies into what would become Lucie’s Red Light Kitchen a few blocks north in the burgeoning North Lime neighborhood.
She opened a la lucie 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). She changed that. Chef Jonathan Lundy (his new restaurant, Corto Lima, now anchors the south end of the block where a la lucie once stood) got his start in her kitchen and has described her as Lexington’s “first celebrity chef.”
A longtime anchor of downtown dining — the site of countless special occasion celebrations (from birthdays to bachelor parties) — most of what we wrote in a 1990 review of a la lucie was still true at the time it closed (though the prices included in the 1990 review 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.”
In the 80s, Slone introduced everything from artichoke souffle to escargots to a Lexington meat-and-potatoes populace that was starved for something a little wilder and more urbane.
Always a Lexington restaurant pioneer, Slone once successfully took fine dining to the southside suburbs with the late great Roy and Nadine’s; brought Asian to Chinoe with Pacific Pearl; nearly resurrected Victorian Square with the Phoenix; and added one final exclamation point to her lengthy career when she opened the Red Light Lounge on North Lime on Valentine’s Day of this year with old favorites and new twists.
She transformed the empty corner garage at North Limestone and Loudon into an eclectic meeting place to dine and socialize, and she was a consistent presence at the new venue, greeting diners with her signature throaty laugh, in her trademark chef’s pinks.
Her culinary — and social — legacy in Lexington is secure.
Services will be at Milward’s Funeral Home.
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