Behind the pressed wood and a painted sign letting people know something is coming soon, construction has begun on Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse at Fourth Street Live.

It’s almost done, Guy Fieri quipped Tuesday afternoon as members of the local media looked at the exposed metal frames and pipes.

Once complete, the restaurant will include an outdoor patio with a fireplace, a wood-lined bar, patent leather bar seats, giant metal fans overhead, a large outdoor smoker and an open kitchen. The smokehouse will seat roughly 250 people.

“The open kitchen is really key. I want (the kitchen staff) to see who they are serving,” Fieri said. “I want (customers) to smell it. I want them to see it. I want them to hear it.”

Formerly Sully’s Restaurant & Saloon, the Louisville location will be the flagship for the Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse concept. He owns another 45 restaurants across the United States.

“There is so much opportunity in Louisville,” Fieri said. “It’s really such a great epicenter.”

Although he has never filmed an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives here, Fieri is connected to Louisville. He’s attended the Kentucky Derby multiple times, notably with Papa John’s International founder John Schnatter last year. He likes to hang out and has cooked at The Sports and Social Club at Fourth Street Live on Derby Day. He also used to host a fund-raising brunch for Kosair Children’s Hospital for multiple years.

The Cordish Cos., which owns Fourth Street Live, reached out to Fieri for a while before piquing his interest. The company benefited from the fact that Fieri was familiar with Fourth Street Live already, said Reed Cordish, vice president for The Cordish Cos.

Fieri was on “a very short list” of restaurateurs that the company was targeting for the space, he said. Fieri’s exuberant personality fit in with Fourth Street Live’s vibe.

“We aren’t a neighborhood place. We are that place that is bright lights and big city,” Cordish said.

The Cordish Cos. will cover the majority of the more than $1.5 million it will take to transform the former Sully’s into Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse.

“He is bringing the sweat and the talent, so it is fair for us to put in the lion’s share of the capital,” Cordish said. Fieri and Cordish already have talked about opening more smokehouse locations at other Cordish-owned properties in the United States.

While many think smokehouse is synonymous with barbecue, Fieri said his new restaurant is not that. It will include all kinds of meats smoked using hickory, apple and cherry woods.

The menu will include dishes such as applewood-smoked and harissa-spiced lamb with pomegranate juice, trashcan nachos, an 18-ounce ribeye, pickle-brined fried chicken, a vegan dish with roasted Brussel sprouts, smoked sweet potatoes, pickled radish and red wine vinaigrette, and scratch-made burgers such as the Brick Burger, a mix between a burger and Cuban sandwich. The specialty drink at Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse will be bloody marys, but of course, it will have a full bar and beers on tap.

The restaurant will feature culturally local ingredients but prepare them in a different way, Fieri said. “We’re always staying aware of where we are.”

Employees will hand-make many of the items on the menu such as the onion rings, burger patties and sauces. However, Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse will locally source its bread and buy certain popular items, including fries and ketchup in bulk, because Fieri said they are difficult to make in-house at the quantity needed.

He declined to give menu prices but said the restaurant will have a middle-tier price point, so people frequent the smokehouse.

During his visit, Fieri talked up Louisville chef Damaris Phillips, who is a judge on his Food Network show Guy’s Grocery Games, saying he is trying to convince Cordish to give her a place along Fourth Street as well.

Phillips, who also hosts Southern at Heart on the Food Network, told Insider Louisville that she isn’t sure if she will open a restaurant locally, but she’s learned from Fieri that well-trained staff is crucial.

“He trains people so well. He makes sure that in places he can’t be all the time, he absolutely makes sure that the teams that he has around him are going to make it successful, and that’s I think the most important thing about a restaurant,” she said.

According to Phillips, Fieri is constantly moving from one task to another.

“He’s working hours and hours and hours and always smiling, always kind and always thoughtful,” she said. “And when we take a break from filming, he’s on the phone talking with people making plans, doing business. It is phenomenal to watch.”

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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]