It’s apropos that The Eagle, whose mascot is the bald eagle, would open on Election Day.

This Tuesday is going to be rough, no matter who wins, but The Eagle will offer Louisvillians a place to drink, eat and hopefully forget how emotional the 2016 election season has been.

The craft beer and fried chicken restaurant, based out of Cincinnati, is expected to open officially on Tuesday.

The Eagle’s parent company, Thunderdome Restaurant Group, invested $1 million in renovating the former El Camino restaurant at 1314 Bardstown Road, including creating a back entrance from the 57-space parking lot behind the restaurant.

“It’s unrecognizable,” said Alex Blust, co-owner and co-founder of The Eagle, Bakersfield and Krueger’s Tavern. All three are concepts from  Thunderdome Restaurant Group, which owns a total of six concepts.

The company spent the last several months turning the formerly bright South California-Mexican restaurant into something more rustic, with lots of wrought iron and wood.

Gregory Huertas, general manager of the The Eagle, said the permitting and inspection process with the city was “a breeze,” making it easier for them to meet their opening deadline.

Huertas, a New York native, previously worked for Thunderdome Restaurant Group in Charlotte and Cincinnati. The hope, Blust said, is to eventually bring all of Thunderdome Restaurant Group’s six concepts to Louisville and have Huertas serve as the regional manager.

(The company already is eyeing the Bearno’s Highlands location, which is just next door. Bearno’s closed this week.)

The Eagle in Louisville is considerably larger than the original location in Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine neighborhood. The Louisville location will seat 180 people inside and another 90 on the outdoor patio.

“We found that larger restaurants are able to accommodate our customers better,” said Blust, who noted that The Eagle’s Columbus and Indianapolis locations also are larger.

The menu in Louisville is slightly different as well, with local beers, burgoo and a bourbon punch making the menu.

“We consider ourselves regionally local,” Blust said. “We want people to think of this as ‘our Eagle,’ not The Eagle.”

The Eagle’s hours of operation to start will be 11 a.m. to midnight daily. However, they hope to remain open until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, once they receive an extension on their liquor license permit.

El Camino, which closed this year, plans to reopen in the Germantown neighborhood.

“El Camino has never been the right fit for us in that space with what we are trying to do,” El Camino co-owner Shawn Cantley said in a previous interview. “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.”

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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]