Bourbon on Main is not here for the short haul. It is in Frankfort to stay and has become a downtown staple.
The restaurant originally opened three years ago with the idea of having an amazing bar program. The bar is still an important part of Bourbon on Main, but the restaurant has begun to focus on its full service restaurant side due to customer demand.
“We’re focused on the craftier side on the bar program, certainly with the beers,” Kelly May, owner of Bourbon on Main, said. “Bourbon is the focus on the bar, obviously.”
May said people are coming to Kentucky to see bourbon and horses. It’s what is driving the state’s economy.
“We want to tap into that as much as we can,” May said.
Everything that comes out of the kitchen is made from scratch, even the sauces.
“Everything we put on the plate is intentional, “ May said.
One of the Bourbon on Main classics is the Fiesta Burger — chorizo, beef, black bean corn salsa, tomatillo salsa, cheese and sour cream. The pork bowl and standard burger are also very popular. Even the Indian Butter Chicken has been huge.
“I love that. You’re walking into bourbon on the banks of the Kentucky River and you’re getting this ethnic cuisine prepared traditionally, the way it should be,” May said.
The chef, Anthony Peluso, a graduate of Johnson and Wales Culinary School, has experience from around the globe. He has been a chef in Scotland, Utah and Miami.
“If we don’t do crazy plates and stuff like that, it’s not because nobody here knows what they are doing or how to do it,” May said. “It’s just because we want to make food that people like.”
In Kentucky, one of those things people like is bourbon. There is no shortage of whiskey in Bourbon on Main. At any given time, there is a minimum 115 bottles of bourbon in the restaurant.
When May first decided to open the restaurant, almost everyone told him not to do it. They said Frankfort wasn’t ready for it. People wouldn’t want to buy craft beer or pay more for a cocktail and hamburger. But Bourbon on Main is different because they give customers a chance to support local suppliers.
“When you come here and you buy a beer for $6 and its made in Kentucky, you’re not just supporting a local business once. You’re supporting it twice,” May said. “You’re supporting the people that brew the beer, the people that distribute the beer — the people that serve the beer.”
Bourbon on Main is not all about making money, May said. It is about being happy with where you are and what you are doing. He gets to be creative in his job and he enjoys what he does.
“The most important thing we can do is be successful and not for our own pockets, but to show people that you can put a business in our community and it can be successful,” May said. “You can push the envelope. You can raise the bar.”
May said he hopes when people think of Frankfort, they’ll think of Bourbon on Main and vice versa.