Walker's Exchange Restaurant
A rendering of Walker’s Exchange at the Galt House. | Courtesy of the Al J. Schneider Company

The Galt House will be the new home to an old name in Louisville dining with the reimagining of 19th-century downtown favorite Walker’s Exchange, slated to open later in the fall.

Operated by the Al J. Schneider Company and led by Chef de Cuisine Harold Baker, the restaurant will be located in the west tower of the hotel, paying homage to the city’s early days as a busy port city.

According to a news release, Walker’s Exchange will be a “polished yet casual” spot with a “Kentucky brasserie” menu theme, featuring pasta, shareables, flatbreads, entrees and daily plates, the latter of which will take on some decidedly Louisville forms, from a dish called Riverboat Jambalaya on Tuesdays to a Friday fish fry, plus fried chicken on Wednesday and burgoo on Thursday.

Local diners who fondly recall classic Louisville restaurants also may be pleased to see Mazzoni’s Famous Rolled Oysters on the menu as the restaurant’s “homage to a Louisville legend.”

Walkers-Exchange-Ad-1860
A Walker’s Exchange Ad, circa 1860 | From The Louisville Directory and Business Advertiser

The menu will rotate seasonally and will be accompanied by a bar program including plenty of bourbon cocktails, local beers on tap, wine and more. Walker’s Exchange also will serve breakfast and lunch, along with a Sunday brunch buffet.

Baker has more than 30 years of experience in kitchens around the U.S., including serving as chef de cuisine at Flagship, another Galt House restaurant, in the 1990s and the four-star Gary’s on Spring, which closed last year.

The history behind Walker’s Exchange actually begins on the spot where the Galt House calls home, when in 1834 William H. Walker opened Walker’s Coffee House there. By 1845, it had expanded and become known as Walker’s Restaurant Hotel, famously offering “all the substantials and delicacies of this and all other markets.”

In 1851, Walker moved his business to a new building on Third Street, between Main and Market streets, changing the name to Walker’s Exchange. That business thrived through the 19th century, serving “Chesapeake Bay canvas-back ducks, New York oysters in the shell, venison and grouse from the prairies, mutton and beef from Bourbon Country, pheasants, quail, woodcock, plover, salmon, bass, etc.,” according to an advertisement in a Louisville Daily Courier piece published in 1851.

Walker’s Exchange, which would later distribute bourbon and start a product called Walker’s Tonic Bitters, closed in the 1890s.

“Louisville has gained attention in recent years for its culinary scene, but its reputation as a destination for the best dining experience in the region dates back to the early 19th century when Louisville’s position on the river meant food from all over the country arrived on our shores,” said Scott Shoenberger, president and CEO of the Al J. Schneider Company, in the news release. “The new Walker’s Exchange is about celebrating that rich history for today’s diner.”

Mac’s at Mile Wide announces a Friday, July 19, grand opening
Macs margherita pizza
Mac’s at Mile Wide will serve nine signature pizzas. | Courtesy of Mac’s at Mile Wide

Also on Friday, Mac’s at Mile Wide will hold its grand opening at Mile Wide Beer Co.

The grand opening menu will include nine specialty pizzas, from a traditional Margherita to a potato rosemary with oven-roasted potatoes, bacon, mozzarella, parmesan and rosemary. All pizzas will be Neapolitan-style, cooked in a custom-tiled oven. Pizzas start at $10.

Mac’s also will offer salads and a few small bites, such as oven-roasted wings and a Bavarian pretzel with Mile Wide beer cheese.

“After a few weeks of testing out the oven and a week of soft opening, we’re incredibly excited to bring our Neapolitan-style pizza to the customers at the Mile Wide Taproom,” said Megan Lusiak, who co-owns Mac’s with husband Tony Lusiak, in a news release. The couple also owns and operate Mac’s Dough House in Jeffersontown.

Waylon’s update

We reported recently that Waylon’s Feed & Firewater in St. Matthews had closed. Now we know why — because the owner of Havana Rumba has acquired rights to the space and plans to open a fusion restaurant called Mojito in Havana, which apparently will split the difference between Havana Rumba and owner Marcos Lorenzo’s other concept, Mojito.

The new restaurant will be located at 3939 Shelbyville Road, not far from the original Havana Rumba on Oechsli Avenue.

A query sent to Lorenzo hadn’t been answered, but we’ll keep checking for more info.

[dc_ad size="9"] [dc_ad size="10"]
Kevin Gibson
Kevin Gibson tackles the 3Rs — retail, restaurants, real estate — plus, economic development. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono. Check out his books, “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft” and “100 Things to do in Louisville Before You Die.” He has won numerous awards for his work but doesn’t know where most of them are now. In his spare time, he plays in a band called the Uncommon Houseflies.Email Kevin at [email protected]