Lexington businesses and restaurants look for gator ahead of UK-Florida game

Posted at 6:00 PM, Sep 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-09 19:09:45-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As the University of Kentucky football team gets ready to play the Florida Gators this Saturday, fans in Lexington will have to celebrate without a key ingredient, a traditional gameday meal — alligator. The owner of Bourbon and Toulouse, who usually serves gator étouffée, says there's a shortage in the United States.

"So our seafood distributor called us this week and said that their supplies down south that they usually get it from, that they've dried up. And so, we're all out of luck around here. We've tried every avenue we can and no one seems to have any,” says Kevin Heathcoat.

Bourbon and Toulouse’s owner says this is a tradition that's carried on for nearly two decades — and this year fans of the dish will be twice as disappointed.

"You know, it's such a unique dish that there's really no other option for us to do, so when we're able to get it back in, we may throw it on the menu as a special, once that time comes,” says Heathcoat.

At the Lexington Seafood Company, owner Lee Travis hasn't had any luck finding alligator either. He says the meat normally comes from further down south from states like Louisiana.

"We could get a whole gator for somebody if they wanted one, or gator meat, gator ribs — I thought might be popular, we wanted to do some of those for the weekend coming up. But unfortunately, we can’t find anything right now,” says Travis.

When customers call looking for the gator, Travis tells them there's a wait. "We're on a waiting list and give us a call and if we can find it, I’ll let you know — happy to take down a number and, you know, if we can find it for you, we'll let you know,” says Travis.

Now, these business owners and UK fans are hoping for a different kind of catch at this Saturday’s game.

"I know a lot of people had some concerns with the O-line last week but sounds like Stoops is gonna shore that up a little bit and it should be a good fight down there in the swamp,” says Travis.

"You know, being this close to campus, we're very excited to have such a great potential season this year. It's always a special time of year down in Chevy Chase. So, you know, things like this just add to the mystique of Chevy Chase and being so close to campus,” says Heathcoat.

Despite the pause in the tradition, these owners are still looking for a good game.

The owner of Bourbon and Toulouse says he's hoping more gators will be available by basketball season. This Saturday’s game will be in Florida and will begin at 7 p.m.