Tony Palombino

Another local restauratuer is headed for Whiskey Row, the increasingly popular stretch of Main Street just east of KFC Yum! Center.

BoomBozz pizza founder Tony Palombino, a man of many restaurant concepts, is planning to open Manny & Merle  later this month at 122 W. Main St., a building that housed Zena’s Cafe for more than a decade before it closed in 2008.

Manny & Merle will combine modern Mexican street fare, live music and cocktails for what’s touted as a “Bakersfield-inspired” tavern.

From the release:

Palombino chose the name Manny & Merle because it symbolizes the connection of the food with the musical influences of the “Bakersfield Sound” made popular by Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, and Johnny Cash. “Manny represents the Mexican immigrant street food served in the old Honky Tonks in Bakersfield, California, and Merle represents the Bakersfield musical history,” said Palombino.

The interior will be “a cross between a rural honky tonk and an urban industrial space, with vintage doors, according to the release. The historic bar, built in the 1920’s, will dominate one wall with lit bottles of tequila and bourbons.

Local graphics/Internet advertising legend Mark Palmer with Oohology will develop the branding and digital marketing.

If this sounds kinda familiar, Manny & Merle has three of the four elements of the upscale Silver Dollar honky tonk, which opened up on Frankfort Avenue in Clifton last year … Bakersfield sound, cool old repurposed building and bourbon by the drink.

One big difference, besides the food, is that Manny & Merle isn’t going to be all country. The joint will “explore the sounds of classic rock and blues and will feature live musical acts of upcoming artists,” according to the release.

“There is good movement (on Main Street) right now. I am very interested in seeing downtown thrive,” Palombino stated in the release. “I am fortunate to have found such a great location on Whiskey Row and once the area is fully developed, it will become a top dining destination in Louisville.”

From his lips to God’s ear!

Palombino has developed and expanded several concepts, most notably Boombozz Pizza, which has four Louisville locations, as well as franchise locations in Indianapolis and Gilbert, Az.

Palombino also developed A. P. Crafters in Westport Village.

Whiskey Row currently has more than a dozen clubs and restaurants in the area – all locally owned – including the Ton Brother’s Doc Crow’s Smokehouse and Raw Bar at 127 W. Main, Patrick O’Shea’s at 123 W. Main, Bearno’s by the Bridge at 131 W. Main, Impellizzeri’s at 110 W. Main, Troll Pub Under the Bridge at 150 W. Washington St.