LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Lexington institution is opening back up under new ownership after shutting down at the beginning of the pandemic. Alfalfa on Main Street has been around for decades, and thanks to an ambitious young couple, they are making sure it is not lost to COVID-19.
Wali El-Amin and his wife Tiffany Bellfield/El-Amin know full well the shoes they are stepping into.
"It's surreal, " they both sighed anxiously.
The restaurant, founded in 1973, holds a special place in the hearts of the self-proclaimed foodies and Lexington residents.
Wali El-Amin reminisced, "On our fourth date, we actually met here and had the red beans and rice, and we continued to come here after that."
So, when they saw Alfalfa shut down and then saw that it was up for sale, it was almost immediate that they knew they wanted to take on the challenge.
"We know the need and the want for what Alfalfa is and could be, so we ran with it, " Bellfield/El-Amin explained.
"We really want to be the change we see in the world. We feel like, with this place, we can do that, " Wali El-Amin added.
Their vision is to make Alfalfa more than a restaurant, but also a place that celebrates Lexington's diversity and is an active part of the community.
Their goal is not only to help ensure downtown Lexington bounces back from the coronavirus but also to be engaged in the socio-economics of supporting local farmers and food systems.
Bellfield/El-Amin said, "We want this to be a place where anybody and everybody can come for food, whether that's from the kitchen or for local farmers."
Already, they are working to feed new moms, partnering with black farmers, and making sure every aspect of what they do and the food they serve is Kentucky proud.
"Alfalfa is a hippie spot. Love is their religion; they want to educate. We worked together to hear the stories. This is what we want to continue doing. Maybe the lens has changed a little bit, but it's the same thing that they were doing in 1973, " Bellfield/El-Amin said.
They said they would also have a Kentucky Proud shop inside, Ballew Estates, selling coffees, local jars of honey, and other goods. They have also purchased a food truck to continue spreading their mission of serving people through food, beyond the four walls of the storied restaurant they now own.
Wali El-Amin said, "Not only feeding your stomach but also feeding your soul."
Alfalfa is set to have a soft opening toward the end of July and a grand reopening in August.
Follow along on their Facebook page for updates.