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Louisville business leaves downtown citing string of violence experienced near store

Owner Charlie Reed says police and city officials were responsive each time, but he says the location remains unsafe.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A downtown Louisville restaurant owner said he's had enough, so he's moving after just three years in the middle of the downtown business district.

Melba’s Culinary Canvas is moving to NuLu, where owner Charlie Reed hopes the string of violence he faced downtown won't follow.

The new East Market Street location is currently under construction; it’s replacing the old Toast restaurant.

Reed plans to serve up his European pastries and savory croissants, and even add dinner service to the menu.

"NuLu is filled up with people eating every night, and I think I'm lucky to get the spot,” Reed said.

It's not just the foot traffic that enticed Reed to move, but the string of violence he says he faced when Melba's was open at 5th and Jefferson. 

“I've been in seven fights down here at Melba's, physical fights," he said. “I got my head cracked open one time. I've had a gun pointed at me nine times. I've been shot at once. I got held hostage in an intersection.”

Reed said LMPD and other city officials were responsive each time, but he says the location remains unsafe. He said the bomb threat was the breaking point given it was right next to Melba's.

Reed closed his doors in September.

Though he jokes that a chef shouldn't tell city government what to do, he said he wants to see new Mayor-elect Craig Greenberg succeed at keeping all parts of the city safe.

“It's his ball. He gets to dribble however he wants,” Reed said. “I hope he does good too. I really do. I really do.”

Greenberg has said that crime is a top priority.

For now, Reed will focus on making sure he keeps his food delicious, and his customers happy.

Melba's new location at 620 East Market Street will open on Jan. 3, 2023.

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