The Livery gets ready

For years, the street leading up to the Downtown Mall between Vinegar Hill Theater and the Omni Hotel has been lined on the left by a vast expanse of brick, but signs now point to the imminent arrival of a new business, The Livery Stable Restaurant and Bar, that will become the Mall's easternmost eatery.

Stepping through the door into the 1,000-square-foot space at 218 West Market reveals extensive renovation underway, but Livery management says it won't be long– perhaps late April– before the first revelers are served.

“It'll be a comfortable, laid-back pub experience for our customers," says John McIlhenny, who will co-manage the family-owned restaurant with his cousin Ian Dugger.

The property has been in the McIlhenny family since the 1840’s, and everything from the management to the interior of the restaurant reflects the family history, including using wood that was stripped from McIlhenny's great-grandmother’s house to fuel the fireplace.

Describing an intimate, casual setting, not yet apparent amidst the construction debris and power tools, McIlhenny says the family plans to offer lunch, dinner and late-night service, and the menu will feature comfort food from fried green beans with wasabi cream and a jalapeno chip basket to pork barbeque sliders and Southwestern crispy chicken pizzas– all family favorites.

“It’s very important to us that we don’t try to be something we’re not," says McIlhenny. "We want to make sure that we’re being true to ourselves and true to our vision.”