It took more than three years to sell one of Louisville’s (formerly) busiest restaurants, but according to WDRB.com, Lynn’s Paradise Café has been sold.
To whom, I don’t know. The story mentions a restaurant group that “will reveal itself in a couple of months,” but in the meantime, even my best restaurant real estate sources haven’t a clue.
Of course Fernando Martinez’s name came up on the quick short list, so I shot him a “You buy Lynn’s?” text. His answer was a succinct, “Hahahahaha.”
A former journo, news photographer buddy said he heard it’s a barbecue concept out of Nashville, so I’ll follow up on that one.
The good news is a restaurant will return to this once-bustling spot. Nearby businesses saw sales plunge when LPD shut down because it was a crowd magnet. Without that foot traffic, some closed up shop—like Lynn’s and because of Lynn’s.
And if the micro-story reported by WDRB tells all, former owner Lynn Winter will not be involved with it. Doubtless her demand that any buyer keep her involved in the business after the sale was what kept the lights and coffee brewers off at the Barret Ave. kitsch kingdom. Winter seemingly could not accept the message that No. One. Wanted. To. Work. With. Her.
The super successful restaurant (reportedly $4 million in annual sales) found itself in a tailspin in January 2013 after one of its servers revolted over a change in policy regarding the amount of cash each had to carry on the job. The server’s grievance, posted on the least friendly spot on the planet, Facebook, started a firestorm of anti-Winter sentiment that would not die down. Yet instead of moving to battle the bad publicity over the alleged mistreatment, Winter shut it down and sent the staff packing.
Winter is a complex character. Always has been. And she walked that fine line between creative genius, visionary, brilliant marketer and flighty-forceful entrepreneur for many years. Yet her regular retreats away from the restaurant to her second home in California harmed the business. As “the personality” behind LPD, her absence was notable and it showed in declining service and food quality. Plus, any veteran LPD staffer will tell you she was not easy to work for.
Best of luck to the mystery operators who will take over that space. It’ll draw diners to that midland between the Highlands and Germantown, an area of town I’d love to see take off.
If I had any advice at all to give to the next owner, it’s this: Make sure it looks not a thing like Lynn’s Paradise Café. That brand is forever besmirched in this city.