LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — In 2017, businesses were clamoring to move into the high-end mixed-use shopping center, The Summit at Fritz Farm. Five years later, several storefronts sit empty.
Construction is underway on the property for what will be a new hotel on Finn Way, according to city records. Soon, a members-only Nike store will open. Leases have also been signed with Sephora, Evereve, and Pandora. The stores are set to open in late 2022 and early 2023. Buzzed Bull Creamery just opened over the summer.
Change and movement on the 54-acre property, which was formerly farmland, have been a constant as businesses come and go.
Press releases from 2017 tout 20 restaurants. There are now 14 eateries — including Starbucks and Whole Foods Tap Room.
In 2017, it was home to the first food hall in Kentucky, called The Barn. It featured local favorites like Crank and Boom Craft Ice Cream, Whiskey Bear, and Former Master Chef Contestant Dan Wu’s Atomic Ramen.
“It's called 'The Barn' because it's shaped like a barn and the outside of it is built from old, reclaimed barn wood from the original Fritz Farm. It's a beautiful building inside and out,” said Wu.
He says the owners inside had high hopes for longevity in the space and were very proud to work together in a shared space. But, the pandemic led to issues beyond anyone’s control.
“Everything came to a head in March of 2020 when COVID really hit us and Governor Beshear put out — basically it was to-go only,” said Wu. “That was a huge, huge hit. Ramen is a kind of food that just does not lend itself to to-go. So, we shut down.”
Not knowing if and when they would reopen, they tried to hang on.
“Then the more I talked with the other owners at the Barn — and they're all friends of mine — the more we realized this wasn't going to work and we had to kind of either all sink or swim together. So we all kind of came to the decision that wasn't gonna work for us and we all negotiated out of our contracts,” said Wu.
Wu says the price of rent there was a factor.
“We were definitely hopeful, but speaking for myself alone, I just don't think we ever got the foot traffic we needed to make those numbers work because the rent was not cheap,” said Wu.
The Barn has sat empty for more than a year. LEX 18 reached out to other food hall restaurant owners but was unable to find out if rent was an issue for them as well.
World of Beer closed its doors in July. LEX 18 was not able to reach them for comment before this story was published.
LEX 18 reached out to the property with several questions. A general manager told us they would not be commenting.
Some of the original tenants left are Ariat, Lululemon, Warby Parker, Shake Shack and Whole Foods.