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Spotlight on Versailles: Locals passionate about city's downtown charm

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Posted at 7:00 PM, Apr 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-18 19:32:22-04

VERSAILLES, Ky. (LEX 18) — The look of downtown Versailles is changing.

"It's not been just one thing. It's been a culmination of a lot of things coming together," said Emily Downey with the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce. "Right time, right place, because we've been talking about these things for a long time. It's been these waves of things happening and then all of a sudden, the light turned on, and everything is coming together at the right time."

Those first ripples were created by the Riddles. Emily and her husband, Alex, rolled the dice in 2017 and bought the Amsden – which has been a bank, a grocery store, law offices, and a host of other things over the past century – and converted it into space for five small businesses.

Opening a small coffee shop was intentional; being a trailblazer was not.

"We didn't mean to do that, but it does feel like it snowballed from this opening and then 10-12 businesses in following years ended up opening up, and a lot of it is concentrated in this court street area," said Amsden owner Emily Riddle.

With the pandemic behind us, others are casting their lots. The Yellow Rose just opened last month. Its original location is in Campbellsville, but the owner fell in love with Versailles on a trip last year and opened a second shop here in downtown.

"We think this is all in God's timing," said Yellow Rose manager Kate Hartlage. "We didn't know about all the cool things that's about to happen here. We just fell in love with Versailles as it is. And so it's crazy and awesome to think about all the things that are coming and to be here while it's all happening.

No trip here is complete without some sweets from Kristen's Kreations.

This former New York City dancer returned home to Versailles during the pandemic and has turned a lifetime passion for baking into the talk of the town.

"We looked for a place and this is just the ideal location," said Kristen's Kreations owner Kristen Harlow. "It had always been a diner, so i inherited a little bit of work to do, but we transformed it and I tell people 'I want you to walk in and be happy!'"

And that they do! But it doesn't stop there. You'll find some of the best brisket anywhere around at Wagon Bones Barbecue just down the street, and then there's the Bourbon Bar, just steps from the Big Spring, where Woodford County's first bourbon was distilled more than 200 years ago.

There are still empty storefronts ready for business, but the hope is they'll be filled soon. Coming in 2023, a new boutique hotel in this former bank building, bought by the Riddles, the same couple who got all of this started.

"It'll be about 30 rooms and it's going to be luxury, top-of-the-line, kind of evoke vintage Kentucky as far as the décor," said Riddle.

Making the new "old" again and – for so many who grew up here – giving downtown Versailles something it hasn't had for a long time.

"We had a gravel parking lot called the rocks and that's where we hung out," said Downey "So, being able to have different things for kids, for families, for our aging community here – it's really exciting to see."