Barrel House Social will open in March. | Photo by Steve Coomes.
Barrel House Social will open in March. | Photo by Steve Coomes.

Barrel House Social, a craft beer and shared plates restaurant, is slated to become the fourth concept to operate at the 6201 Dutchmans Lane location originally home to the Oldenberg Brewery & Restaurant in the late 1990s.

The site last served as a Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery, which closed in 2013. Prior to that, Ernesto’s Mexican Restaurant operated there. Now, according to operating partner Bruce Rosenblatt, the nearly empty building will open as Barrel House Social on March 3.

“That’s what our contractors are telling us,” said Rosenblatt. “We’ve worked in restaurants all my life, so we know how to get this done.”

His use of “us” and “we’ve” refers to investor partner Tony Palombino, creator of several Louisville-based concepts, mostly notably Boombozz Pizza & Taphouse. The two men have worked on Barrel House Social for a few months and are currently developing its menu.

“When I came to him about the idea, he said he’d been dying to do the same thing forever,” said Rosenblatt, a 20-year restaurant veteran who worked the past two-and-a-half years as general manager of a Chuy’s Mexican restaurant in Bowling Green, Ky. “That we’re both on the same page is exciting.”

Rosenblatt said Barrel House Social will be casual and affordable, but “a notch above a lot of the really casual places you see opening up lately.”

Bruce Rosenblatt doesn't believe the former location of the Oldenberg Brewery is cursed. | Photo by Steve Coomes.
Bruce Rosenblatt doesn’t believe the former location of the Oldenberg Brewery is cursed. | Photo by Steve Coomes.

The Long Island, N.Y.-native said families will gather over shared plates of comfort foods such as 24-hour-brined hot and traditional fried chicken, and that friends will gather to watch games, drink craft beer by the pitcher, and relax on cushy couches.

Natural light pouring through abundant windows makes the 11,000-square-foot, high-ceilinged restaurant feel even roomier. At 8,000 square feet upstairs (including a covered patio), and 3,000 square feet downstairs, the site has multiple nooks that will become “theme corners.”

“In this one, there will be couches, coffee tables and lamps, places where groups can socialize over craft beer and food,” Rosenblatt began. “This corner over here will be called The Lodge, and it’ll have a lot of rustic, heavy furniture like you’d see at a ski lodge.”

He then pulls out his iPhone and begins shuffling through hundreds of pictures to find one of an enclosed mountain ski lift.

“You’ll be able to dine in this! It’ll be over in that corner. How cool is that?” he said. “To be able to actually have a meal with your friends sitting in a ski lift … who else is doing that?”

Expect 36 craft beers on tap, most coming from Kentucky, and others nearby. Bourbon barrel-aged beers will be prominently featured upstairs and down in the restaurant’s tasting room, where barrel heads will adorn the walls.

Barrel House Social will specialize in bourbon-barrel beers.
Barrel House Social will specialize in bourbon-barrel beers. | Photo by Steve Coomes.

“Bourbon-barrel beers are so important now, and we want to be the place people think about when that’s what they want to drink,” Rosenblatt said. The restaurant also will have a full bar.

Menu prices will range between $8 and $16, which he said means “a family of four could share a whole fried chicken meal for about $40 or $50. … We’ve not fully finalized the menu yet, but it’s coming together quickly, and the food will pair well with beer.”

Standing outside the restaurant and surveying the neighborhood, Rosenblatt answered the one question I didn’t ask: Is this location, as many like to say, cursed? After all, three concepts failed here.

“We hear that, but I don’t believe in ghosts, so to me, it’s OK,” he said with a smile. “No, there’s nothing at all wrong with this location. Look around you. We are surrounded by hotels and office buildings, and behind those are neighborhoods with people who want to go out and eat.

“The Texas Roadhouse next door is always busy, and every restaurant in the neighborhood is full. The problem with this location has been bad operators, not the location itself. I have no doubt we’re going to do great here.”

Steve Coomes
Steve Coomes is a restaurant veteran turned award-winning food, spirits and travel writer. In his 24-year career, he has edited and written for multiple national trade and consumer publications including Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living. He is a feature writer for Louisville magazine, Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass and Food & Dining Magazine. The author of two books, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and the "Home Distiller's Guide to Spirits," he also serves as a ghostwriter for multiple clients.