Joe's Older Than Dirt in Lyndon will close on Oct. 31.
Joe’s Older Than Dirt in Lyndon will close on Oct. 31.

One of the better-kept secrets in the local restaurant community is finally out:

Olé Restaurant Group (ORG) will open Red Barn Kitchen in the Joe’s Older Than Dirt location at 8131 New Lagrange Road. That restaurant will close its doors on Oct. 31.

According to a report on WDRB.com, owners Gary and Janet Gish are leaving the 78-year-old business to relax a little. Their daughter and the restaurant’s manager, Caytie Sanders, told the station they are “slowing down.”

The report also said the business was hit with a tax lien for $164,000 in July, a sum Sanders said her parents are working to pay.

That ORG will take on the location fits the company’s longtime practice of acquiring distressed or long-empty restaurant spaces and turning them into hits. When Red Barn Kitchen opens in February of 2016, it will mark ORG’s eighth restaurant. That lineup includes Guaca Mole, two Mussel & Burger Bars, Cena, El Taco Luchador, Coconut Beach, and Artesano Tapas, Vino y Mas.

Fernando Martinez at the always crowded Mussel & Burger Bar.
Fernando Martinez at the always crowded Mussel & Burger Bar.

Fernando Martinez, partner and executive chef at ORG, did not respond to interview requests by press time. However, he had shared Red Barn Kitchen’s location with Insider Louisville earlier this year on condition it not be announced until Joe’s disclosed its impending closure.

“The business is still in operation, so we don’t want to do anything that would compromise their business,” Martinez said last spring. “We’re very happy to have that location, but until then, I don’t want to say anything publicly. They’re nice people.”

Earlier this month, Insider Louisville revealed ORG’s plans for Red Barn Kitchen, including the name of its new chef, Reed Johnson, formerly of Wiltshire Pantry & Catering. A barbecue fanatic, Johnson told IL that his menu will feature a wide array of smoked foods, including whole hog barbecue.

Meantime, ORG is in high gear opening its second Mussel & Burger Bar in the former St. Charles Exchange location in a matter of days, and Artesano in mid-October.

“We are really busy, no doubt about that,” Martinez said in an early September interview. “But we’re really well staffed. We have no doubt we can make all these happen.”

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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.