Bistro 301 looks to be sold to owners of The Goat

Business First reported this afternoon that a deal is in the works to sell Bistro 301 (301 W. Market) to ITB Hospitality, which has applied for a liquor license at the restaurant.

A quick web search revealed ITB Hospitality’s address is listed at 700 Landis Ridge Dr. in eastern Jefferson County (off Shelbyville Road and across from Lake Forest). That’s the site of The Goat restaurant, which is part of a six-unit chain based in Columbus, Ohio.

I’ve never been to The Goat, but I’ve heard from a few friends who live in that area it’s a good place to take a family since it specializes in … what else? … pizzas, burgers, wraps, wings, etc.

In the Business First article, reporter David Mann did some modest editorializing about the sale of Bistro 301: “It’s a heck of a time to be buying a restaurant at the corner of Third and Market streets. This building is located right across Market Street from the Kentucky International Convention Center, which is going to close today and remain closed for the next two years for a major renovation project. And Third Street is expected to close for that work next year.”

He’s right. But as I say often, that’s why I write about restaurants and others operate them. They probably know something I (and Mann) don’t.

So why buy Bistro 301, which isn’t the hottest restaurant in town? Chances are ITB Hospitality doesn’t want that brand, just the building it calls home for now. Matt and Molly Mershon bought the restaurant 13 years ago from local lawyer John DeCamillis, who operated the spot as Deke’s Marketplace Grill for about a decade. It was average at best, and the Mershons’ changes were welcome and successful. Yet it’s hard to recall the last time it slipped onto my coverage radar. I even had to go to its website to see its menu and recall what they serve there. When I looked, I said to myself, “I’ll buy a drink for the first person who can successfully categorize its menu.” It cuts a crazy path through many cuisines.

So should you expect The Goat to be penned there? Possibly. Four of the six Goats are clustered in or near Columbus, so a small-scale duplication of that strategy in the River City could work. And once the convention center reopens, it would be logical to think visitors might like its approachable and generalized menu.

by steve coomes

Steve Coomes is a restaurant veteran turned award-winning food, spirits and travel writer. In his 25-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 Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass, Whisky Magazine, and The Bourbon Review. 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.

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