If you’re looking for something to do in Lexington, Kentucky, The Grove is the eclectic reincarnation of a beloved local hangout that you shouldn’t miss.

The Grove, the newest event and hangout space in Lexington, Kentucky, is a testament to the resiliency and adaptability of small businesses during the pandemic. In a period of great economic turmoil and uncertainty, owner Avena Kiely used the time during shelter-in-place to pivot her business.

The Grove Harvey's Bar Lexington KY
Credit: Magnus Lindqvist

Prior to launching The Grove, Kiely had owned Harvey's Bar, a favorite local watering hole in downtown Lexington, in addition to the neighboring Hugo's Ultra Lounge. Today, locals and visitors alike need not fear: Harvey's isn't going anywhere, but rather is incorporated into the collective of small businesses that now occupy the space at The Grove. Joining Harvey's are Fable Charcuterie and Wine and Luna's Vintage Food Truck, in addition to the outdoor beer garden and The Melodeon, both piloted by Kiely.

The Grove Lexington Harvey's Bar Drink
Credit: Magnus Lindqvist

"This past year has been riddled with challenges—especially since we made the hard decision to close our doors to keep our friends and families safe during COVID," Kiely said. "That makes us even more excited for the opportunity to re-open Harvey's Bar and Beer Garden as part of The Grove—a micro-community that embraces and supports other local businesses. We love Lexington because this community helped shape us as entrepreneurs and humans."

As she formulated the idea, Kiely knew she wanted to invite other small business that would complement each other.  

Lauren Hardesty, co-owner of Fable Charcuterie and Wine, moved into The Grove on the invitation of Kiely, a friend. Hardesty had started doing charcuterie boards in 2019 and quickly found a niche, especially in 2020. It was also a great way for the art major and mother to find the creative outlet she had been missing.

The Grove Lexington Fable Charcuterie
Credit: Magnus Lindqvist

"Because of the pandemic, people were stuck inside and getting a charcuterie board seemed like some luxury," Hardesty said.

After talking with Kiely, Hardesty moved into The Grove and rebranded as Fable Charcuterie and Wine. If you're thinking about Aesop's Fables at the mention of the name, you're headed in the right direction. Hardesty took inspiration from "The Fox and the Crow."

As Fable, Hardesty and her partner, sommelier Ellis Delahousay, have created a delectable menu. Delahousay crafted the wine offerings that patrons can order from Harvey's Bar, before dipping over to Fable for custom charcuterie boards.

"One of the cool things about our boards is that all [of them] are made to order and they're all different," Hardesty said. "We don't have a standard board, but because we use fresh, seasonal ingredients, they're all a little bit different, and every one of them is a work of art."

The Grove Lexington Luna Food Truck
Credit: Magnus Lindqvist

Stephania Sharkey runs Luna, The Grove's permanent food truck. Kiely had been a fan of her work at another downtown restaurant, where Sharkey was a sous-chef. Now, Luna specializes in small plates and appetizers, providing the main course after patrons have grazed their way through charcuterie boards, bar snacks, and drinks on a night out.

"My menu is largely worldly bites with an emphasis on seasonal produce," Sharkey said. "I like making food that tastes as good as it looks, so I make a lot of tasty sauces and use herbs and flowers from my garden."

Finally, there is The Melodeon, which, during the course of its 200-year-old lifespan, has been, among other things, a theater, a pharmacy, and a diner. When the diner owners were ready to sell, Kiely, who was already operating Harvey's, scrambled for it.

"When you're in your late twenties, [you] don't really think of risk or anything. I just jumped on it and I was able to purchase it," Kiely recalled.

The Grove Lexington
Credit: Magnus Lindqvist

Since its founding, Hugo's has been at the forefront of the Lexington social scene. It continues to evolve with The Grove, where it has been transformed into an event space that does everything from private gatherings to yoga classes and wine tastings.

"I think there was a need back then," Kiely remembered of the early days. "There were no nightclubs in Lexington. It was a bit of a chance, but my brother and I got a bank loan and we opened Hugo's Ultra Lounge. We've had that all the way up until COVID and we've always loved the name of The Melodeon. We thought it'd be lovely to reincarnate it."

The Grove

200 W. Main Street Lexington

Wednesday-Friday 4pm-12am; Saturday-Sunday 11am-12am