Great store, great location, dreadful track record.
Falls City Hospitality is considering a restaurant at the former Tumbleweed Waterfront Park location.

Despite a new restaurant in Nashville and plans for another in Cincinnati, it’s likely Falls City Hospitality, operator of Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar and La Coop Bistro a Vins, won’t open its next eatery out of town.

FCH partner Brett Davis confirms a Courier-Journal report that he and partners Chip Hamm and Steven and Michael Ton are considering opening a Mexican restaurant this coming spring in the recently vacated Tumbleweed Waterfront Park location on River Road. But he insists there’s no firm deal in place.

“At this time, we’re still talking, so we’re not going too far with thinking about or talking about the concept,” Davis tells Insider Louisville. “Our restaurant group, good or bad, designs its concepts for locations. We’ve not ever taken a concept and forced it into a location. We let the location tell us what it wants to be.”

Yet if the deal is consummated, Davis says it likely will be south-of-the-border themed and highlight tequila, mezcal and rum.

“Tumbleweed sold $3 million a year of south-of-the-border food in that one location, so that seemed to work,” Davis says. “Whatever we’re going to do, we’ll go a little more mid-range than Tumbleweed … $22 to $25 a person.”

FCH’s next and definite project is a 12,000-square-foot American comfort food restaurant in RiverPark Place, located less than a mile from the vacated Tumbleweed. Davis expects it to open in September and feature 100 beer taps, lots of TVs and a menu that deliberately steers clear of the food served at Doc Crow’s (which is located about 2 miles from the Tumbleweed location).

“We’ll also have cocktails and a long wine list, but beer will be front and center at RiverPark,” Davis says, adding that the restaurant will be a great place to watch sporting events. “As Doc Crow’s is to bourbon, the RiverPark restaurant will be to beer and, if we do the deal, the Tumbleweed place would be to tequila, rum and mezcal.”

In the C-J article Hamm said that at least some of FCH’s four partners may open a restaurant in NuLu—in the space currently occupied by La Coop Bistro a Vins, which FCH operates. That restaurant’s last service is scheduled for Dec. 31.

La-Coop-signLa Coop did well in the NuLu location, but Davis says its diminutive size and high labor investment kept it from being a significant money maker during its two-plus-year run.

That any FCH partners would be involved in a new concept there is highly unlikely, he tells IL, especially given the possibilities of opening two major restaurants in 2015.

“Anything’s possible, but I think most likely that’s not going to be the scenario,” he says. “There were talks about one or two of us being involved in a concept there with two outside partners, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. We’ve pretty much decided that the best thing would be to let the two (outside partners) we were considering bringing in do that by themselves.”

If a restaurant were to open there, it would benefit FCH, which still has two years on its lease of the Green Building space. Last week, when I spoke with Davis about La Coop’s upcoming closure, he said that whatever concept opens there, it must be casual in order to be successful.

“Fine dining … is not dead, but it’s definitely not the favored way to go out and eat in America anymore,” Davis says. “The trend is toward casual: blue jeans, shorts, T-shirts. Look at what celebrity chefs are coming on with: burger concepts and salume concepts. All casual. That says a lot.”

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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.