New Ownership, Concepts Coming to Distillery District Complex

New Ownership, Concepts Coming to Distillery District Complex
Embracing Lexington Heritage, New Team Bringing Enhanced Hospitality and Entertainment Options, Revitalization of Old Tarr Distillery Identity and Fresh Menus for Bluegrass Catering

Bluegrass Catering Press Release • Fresh Start, New Concepts


Lexington, KY – November 7, 2019

The property at 903 Manchester St, currently Venues of the Grand Reserve, has changed ownership and is ushering in a new chapter in the Distillery District of Lexington, KY. 

Jill Bakehorn, co-owner and founder of Bluegrass Catering, along with an investment partnership has purchased the event venue under a new concept. New menus, new event offerings and updated room designs plus a rebranding campaign will embrace the location’s history as the former Old Tarr Distillery campus.

Popular for weddings and corporate events, the venue is the second-largest indoor event venue space in Lexington after Heritage Hall consisting of four unique interior rooms plus one exterior garden space.

“We want to reassure current clients of the Grand Reserve that nothing will change for their events,” said Bakehorn. “Bluegrass Catering will honor all existing contracts and the Grand room, Speakeasy and Distillery Square spaces will all retain much of their current identity. But with this change we are looking to explore the area’s heritage as the Old Tarr Distillery location, the first registered distillery in the central Kentucky area.”

The property is located adjacent to Manchester Music Hall at the eastern end of the Distillery District of Lexington, an area which has been steadily revitalizing in recent years. The upgrades will breathe new life into the property matching other nearby developments such as the numerous businesses that have made Manchester Street their home over the last 8 years: Crank & Boom Ice Cream Lounge, Middle Fork restaurant, Goodfella’s Pizzeria, The Burl and more recently Fusion Brewing and Battle Axes, among many others. Distilling operations have returned here as well with the opening of Kentucky’s first craft distillery, Barrel House, back in 2008 and the reopening of the James E Pepper Distillery in 2018.

The neighborhood continues to steadily grow as new mixed use properties have come on the market and new townhomes dubbed Distillery Heights have begun construction.

For her vision of restoring the Old Tarr heritage, to further develop Bluegrass Catering’s culinary services, and to create new events and entertainment options for the area, Bakehorn has reorganized her existing team and expanded with many new team members.

Shannon Guerrant will continue in her role as logistics manager and event planner. Her background in theater will help expand the venues’ offerings.

Johnetta Turpin, chef with Bluegrass Catering for over 20 years, has been promoted to Executive Chef and will continue to oversee food service operations and Classic Southern menus. Chefs Amber Lawrence and Betty Mendosa will be developing new Farm-to-Table and International Fusion menus, respectively. 

Kimberly Gaunce, a certified planner with the Association of Bridal Consultants and over 20 years experience in the wedding industry, is providing transition support for existing clientele of the venue and will continue on in a Weddings sales role.

Tim Knittel, Executive Bourbon Steward and founder of local Bourbon education and consulting company Distilled Living, has been hired to develop a craft beverage program and introduce concepts from the Old Tarr Distillery into the venues.

“It’s exciting to be able to tell the story of central Kentucky’s first registered distillery at its original campus,” said Knittel. “We’re going to weave that heritage into the guest experience in many ways including throughout the rooms and of course at the bar. But we also want to provide a very modern mixology and beverage menu that consumers expect from a premium establishment. Eventually, we’d like to host events that embrace not just the Old Tarr identity but that celebrate central Kentucky’s role in developing Bourbon as the spirit we know and enjoy today.”

Resurrecting the Old Tarr identity has been a passion project of Bakehorn’s for many years. 

“I love all aspects of history and visual storytelling,” Bakehorn said. “There are so many stories of central Kentucky’s history – both related to Old Tarr and many more – and I want to use the venues as a canvas to tell them. I look forward to using this space for Lexington history tours, theater, Bourbon tastings and more all with the highest quality Kentucky food as a centerpiece as well.”

Bakehorn has also retained Fascination Design, a central Kentucky design and marketing firm with over 20 years of experience, to provide an updated brand identity and campaign that will connect the components of the heritage of the property, Old Tarr and the historic stories of Lexington across all aspects of the guest experience to meet the expectations of the modern consumer.

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Contact: Jill Bakehorn, Owner
Bluegrass Catering & Old Tarr Venues