The patio at The Eagle location in Indianapolis gives Louisville an idea of how the concept will look. | Courtesy of The Eagle
The patio at The Eagle location in Indianapolis gives you an idea of how the concept will look when it moves into 1314 Bardstown Road. | Courtesy of The Eagle

The Eagle, a Cincinnati restaurant focused on craft beer and chicken, has found a place to roost in Louisville.

The restaurant will take El Camino‘s place at 1314 Bardstown Road.

“We are very interested in being in the Bardstown Road area,” said Joe Lanni, co-founder of Thunderdome Restaurant Group. “We really feel like that is one of the best locations in Louisville.”

Thunderdome Restaurant Group owns The Eagle, as well as Bakersfield, Krueger’s Tavern, SOHI Grilled Sandwiches and Currito. The company will lease the space from El Camino’s owners.

Meanwhile, El Camino is moving. Co-owner Shawn Cantley said he and his co-owners are negotiating terms for a new space, but he wasn’t ready to reveal where since all the legal paperwork isn’t signed. But he emphasized that El Camino will reopen, and it is not shutting down.

The location will be within 2 miles of the current restaurant. It also will take El Camino down to roughly 150 seats from 300, said Cantley, who co-owns El Camino, The Silver Dollar and a new bar called The Pearl with his wife Vanessa Cantley and business partner Larry Rice.

“El Camino has never been the right fit for us in that space with what we are trying to do,” he said. “Being in a smaller space that is kind of off the beaten path is going to allow us to do what we want to do with El Camino.”

The restaurant makes its masa tortillas, chips and salsa from scratch for example, Cantley said.

“It’s been kind of a struggle,” he said. “Either we had to change who we were to cater to the masses, or we needed to move to a different space.”

Gant Hill & Associates has been quietly marketing the property for El Camino’s owners for months and recently completed their agreement with Thunderdome.

“I think it will be a really good fit for Bardstown Road,” Cantley said.

No dates have been set for when El Camino will serve its last taco on Bardstown Road, but look for The Eagle to open sometime this fall.

Before The Eagle can land on Bardstown Road, however, Thunderdome will need to make some changes.

“We are going to do some extensive renovations,” Lanni said, adding that most will be cosmetic changes to the interior and outdoor patio, as well as some kitchen modifications to fit their needs.

The Eagle has a different type of urban feel with brick and reclaimed wood. “It’s a rustic, fun, warm feel,” he said.

The Eagle will employ about 75 people. Its hours of operation will be 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday. The Eagle will be open later on Friday and Saturday, but Lanni wasn’t sure if they would be open until 2 a.m. or 4 a.m.

Thunderdome owns and operates restaurants in nine states, including Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana and Pennsylvania, and with its headquarters in Cincinnati, Louisville was a logical step.

“It’s got a great food scene,” Lanni said. “We would have been there sooner, but we just couldn’t find the right locations.”

Notably, the El Camino space could have become another Mexican-influenced restaurant. Thunderdome also owns Bakersfield, a Mexican street food, tequila and whiskey concept, but Lanni said it wasn’t what they envisioned in the space.

“We just felt like when we walked through the space and saw the patio that it just felt like a great fit for The Eagle,” he said. “It could have easily been a Bakersfield as well, but we felt the The Eagle on Bardstown Road was a great fit.”

If The Eagle comes out of the gate as strongly as they predict, “we will be looking for a site for Bakersfield shortly thereafter,” Lanni said. “We find that they are complementary concepts.”

Eventually, Louisville could have a slate of Thunderdome restaurants, he said.

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Caitlin Bowling
Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]