Lexington's iconic Parkette Drive-In permanently closes its doors

Posted at 8:25 AM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 17:56:09-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Parkette restaurant in Lexington has been around for more than seven decades. Tuesday night the decision was made to permanently close the landmark's doors. The following day, that decision left some lunch-goers and even employees confused.

One customer, Matt Fitzpatrick, said, "I try to hit the local restaurants when I’m in Lexington for the day."

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Another customer, Christopher Wayne, said, "I was kinda surprised because this place has been here forever, and they have really great food here."

The property owner Bryan Tipton, who represents the restaurant's founding family, the Smileys, says the current Parkette operators were looking to get out of the last few years of their lease agreement. He explains that after some time of revenue drop-off, the decision was made to close it.

"We negotiated with them. That's been going on for over a month, to release them from the lease," said Tipton. "And that's what we did feeling that that was best for Parkette because they were struggling."

The Kaplan family, who currently operates the business disagrees with how that decision was made. Now, former owner Randy Kaplan says he believed they would be able to continue operating the restaurant as normal. He says his goal was to get off the lease with his co-owner and operate solo.

"I was actually told that - we were gonna operate as normal, I was going to stay on as the operating manager of the company,” said Kaplan.

For many people in Lexington’s community, the Parkette has been a landmark. Now, more than 20 people are without a job today, some even showed up for work Wednesday morning.

One of those employees, a server, Brandi Brewer, said, "Now, I’ve lost my income - without any type of information, any type of knowledge, anything would have helped me prepare for this."

It's unclear what will become of this building that has been on New Circle Road since its opening in November 1951.

Tipton says, "There was just really no other way. We hate that, that happened, there were some miscommunications, but you know, these negotiations have been going on for a month and a half."

When asked what he'd miss the most Kaplan shared, "the opportunity, to enhance lives and to provide for this community."