Elizabeth Rush and Gerren Reach behind the bar at Limestone Blue
Lexington, KY – Elizabeth Rush and Gerren Reach were expecting to be serving downtown diners more than a year ago at Limestone Blue after they took over the North Limestone restaurant space formerly occupied by Giacomo’s. But a desire to make the space fit their wishes put plans on hold until three weeks ago.
“When we got the building originally, we just thought we’d be able to open up pretty quickly afterwards and do some minor renovations. But with it being an older building, we found out it needed a whole lot more work than we thought,” said Reach, who along with his fiancé, Rush, are teaming up to offer locally sourced menu items for lunch goers during the week and dinner on Thursday through Saturday, as well as a Saturday brunch.
“We always wanted to do something local, local food, local drinks,” Rush said. “We wanted to keep it small and simple, but ideas grew off of other ideas.”
The couple went their separate ways after going on a few dates in high school, as he was in Lexington and she was in Winchester. That was until Rush, then a UK student, said she was leaving her apartment on Woodland Avenue just as Reach was biking down the street. As he approached her, Rush said Reach’s bike chain snapped and he was hurled over the handlebars, coming to a rest right in front of her. They’ve been back together since and are getting married next month.
Rush said she started in dietetics at UK and that has influenced the restaurant’s menu, which includes items named for local characters, like Gatewood Galbraith whose veggie sandwich features provolone, avocado, sprouts, cucumber, lettuce and tomato on grilled ciabattini. There is also a Louis “Shoeshine” Cobb salad named for Cobb, a downtown fixture who died in 2009 known for always being dapper and offering shoe-shines, as well as his two cents to members of city council during public comment portions of meetings.
Rush said she expects over the course of a year for Limestone Blue to sell between 75 percent and 80 percent locally sourced food. She said it is higher now as local vegetables are in season.
Rush and Reach outside the restaurant on Limestone.
Within the next two weeks, they plan on carrying local beers on their five beer taps and will be one of only a handful in the commonwealth to offer wine on tap with wine coming from kegs, Rush said. There will be three wine taps serving a white, a blush and a red. The red wine tap lines will not be chilled, but the other two will.
Currently there is seating on the sidewalk and the first floor of the restaurant, which has been changed drastically from its previous incarnation. The kitchen was moved to the basement, where more seating will eventually be available, and the bar is on the opposite wall from the former lunch counter and kitchen that had previously been in place. Eventually the two plan to offer seating in the back of the building accessible through a door that was added in the renovation process.
“It was kind of like a blessing in disguise,” Reach said about the amount of time the restaurant took to complete, “aside from the down time, the waiting and the renovation.”
“The idea of what we wanted to do has grown because we had that long gap,” said Reach, who focuses on the business side of the restaurant. “This is our first stab at a restaurant or local business, so it helped us grow tougher skin.”
Limestone Blue opens at 8 a.m. everyday but Sunday when it is closed. Monday through Wednesday it closes at 3 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday it closes at 9 p.m. The hours are expected to expand once the beer and wine license comes through, the owners said.