Since Insider Louisville reported last week that Susan Seiller, former owner of Jack Fry’s, was creating a new restaurant named Relish Café, we’ve received numerous emails, calls, texts and Tweets asking, basically, “Why is she getting into it again? She’s already knocked it out of the park once.”
It appears stopping for good isn’t good enough for a fertile mind like Seiller’s, especially when she sees a great opportunity to do good things with food.
“We are creative in the culinary arts, and I’m an entrepreneur. So when the vision comes, you act on it,” said Seiller, who also owned La Paloma, a terrific Mediterranean restaurant she sold to the owners of Azalea in the early 1990s. “The truth is I like creating and actualizing these concepts. I’ve kind of had this idea for about 10 years … and I couldn’t shake it.”
Perhaps the strongest nudge to create the restaurant resulted from her father’s recent heart surgery. During his recovery, Seiller’s mother was told she needed to play a role in changing her husband’s diet by cooking healthfully — something she lacked the skills to do.
When he came home from the hospital, Susan cooked for her parents for the next two weeks and helped her mother learn to prepare foods with much less fat and salt.
“And the whole time I’m thinking, ‘I like this! This is good!’” Seiller said. “That’s what the food at Relish will be: flavor from the ingredients themselves and much less fat. Kind of a clean cuisine.”
Located at 1346 River Road, Relish Café will share the strip center currently housing Stop Light Liquors. The space will span a modest 2,400 square feet, seat 50 and begin serving lunch and carryout foods in mid-October. Light breakfast will be introduced later, Seiller said, and if a strong enough demand for dinner service arises, she’ll consider extending operating hours past 7 p.m.
And while drive-thru windows are nothing new, Seiller’s will be available only to customers with pre-paid accounts and who order their food online for pickup.
“That’s the only way we can make that option as fast as we need to with such a small lot,” she said.
The menu remains under development, but Seiller said the food will be “really fresh, very healthy, elegant food that uses a lot of fresh herbs and gets its flavor from things like citrus, and smoking or whatever—anything rather than a lot of fat.”
Her executive chef is Brent Emrich, a personal chef and caterer and Sullivan culinary grad who has a college degree in public health.
“He’s just incredible and his food is unbelievable,” said Seiller, adding that Emrich’s history also includes time at Le Relais. “He’s sort-of lived this food concept.”
Expect per-person check averages to range between $10 and $15, she said.
When asked about her site selection on that largely open stretch of River Road, Seiller effused optimism: Nearer the Zorn Ave. intersection a couple of miles away lie multiple office buildings, and just a mile or so away to the west are the Humana Belknap campus office building and high-end condos. Sooner than later, she said, the condominium complex under construction across the street from her also will open.
“We’re here in an area that’s really underserved, but that has a lot of potential,” she said. Some 120 large outdoor and athletic events are held annually near the restaurant, the Louisville Wheelmen meet in the lot across the street, and the University of Louisville’s Garvin Brown, III Rowing Center is nearby. “There are a lot of opportunities for strong lunches, and I think the number of cars that drive by going home every day is more than 30,000.”
Were we betting men, we’d wager that Relish Café is going to be a winner.