Old Kaelin's site prepping for restaurant reopening

The urban legend is that the former Kaelin's restaurant at 1801 Newburg Road was the birthplace of the cheeseburger when owner Carl Kaelin in 1934 slapped a slice of American cheese on a hamburger patty.

The family-friendly dining spot closed in 2009 but the owners of the building hint strongly that Kaelin's may return at the familiar location across from St. Agnes Catholic Church.

The city Codes & Regulation staff issued a building permit on Thursday for what the permit indicated is a planned $1 million renovation of the three-story building that has been vacant since the Kaelin's and the restaurant that came after it, called Mulligan's, also closed several years ago.

Taylor Avenue LLC, an affiliate of Flynn Group Real Estate and Development, bought the building just up the road from Bellarmine University for $675,000 last spring.  And Jesse Flynn, head of the company, said in an interview Thursday afternoon that a restaurant will open at the location, perhaps by late summer.

He said he was not at liberty yet to discuss the coming restaurant because the deal isn't final.  But he said the restaurant will occupy all 11,000 square feet of the building and that the operator will lease the site from Flynn's company.  The building dates to 1922, according to Jefferson property valuation records.

And, Flynn hinted strongly that Kaelin's may have a major identity at the renovated site, saying the new restaurant will have extensive memorabilia telling the history of Kaelin's -- and its long association as the home of the cheeseburger.

Flynn said that the architectural firm of Luckett & Farley has completed a design for the new restaurant and that interior demolition has been completed.

The building permit indicated that work is to include some cosmetic exterior upgrades and improved windows, doors, roofing and restrooms. Needed mechanical and plumbing work will require additional permitting, the city regulators said.  The site has a parking lot behind the building.

Flynn told the Courier-Journal in an article last spring when his company bought the property that he went to college at Bellarmine from 1967 to 71 and used to eat at Kaelin's.

The Kaelin's site became Mulligan's, a pub and grill, in 2009. It was purchased by Flynn's company at a foreclosure auction last May.

Kaelin's, which opened in 1934 under the ownership of Carl and Margaret Kaelin, had a well-known sign, "If you can't stop, please wave."

Reporter Sheldon S. Shafer can be reached at 502-582-7089, or via email at sshafer@courier-journal.com.

Courier-Journal


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