Louisville Magazine

MAR 2012

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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— just completely extracted the life out of me," says Lewellyn, alluding to the fact that Holland's wife is the daughter of the late Owsley Brown II, former Brown-Forman CEO. "But there was also a sense of relief when that thing got taken out of my hands. It was over." Says Tedesco: "Regardless of who was right or wrong, it put a lot of people out of work. We were pissed off." I n early February, in the Green Building's third-floor conference room, Gill Holland is talking about how, even though 732 Social wasn't the original restaurant on a burgeoning East Market Street, it was still an important "first mover." "Maybe it will be like the Velvet Underground of 21st century Louisville restaurants," he says. Te day Social closed, Hol- land says, people started calling to ask about the space's future. He fielded 14 serious offers — one for a pizzeria, another that would serve Mexican food — but ultimately went with a French restaurant called Bistro Voliere, scheduled to open in April. Te Ton brothers are two of the partners. "I suggested they call it Bistro Vert because that's the French word for green," says Holland, who bought Social's liquidated assets for what he says was "a fair price." Asked if there was any hesitation to working with the Tons again, Hol- land says, "Tey're very stable. We know them on a friendly basis and on a business basis." (Holland is also part-owner of the old Frankfort Avenue firehouse that contains Rice's new restaurant, the Silver Dollar.) Was Lewellyn the problem? Holland grows uncharacteristically quiet, uncomfortable even. "Um, you know, he's a good chef, and I wish him luck in his next endeavor." Which won't be with you? "No." Pause. "I mean, he sued us all. So, yeah." What was it like to have something fail in your building, the neighbor- hood's unofficial headquarters? "I don't think it's the headquarters, but again, we were not involved in that business. Tey were our tenant, so I don't necessarily think it's a failure on…I mean, that business failed." Will you talk to Lewellyn again? "I just haven't seen him. Tere's no hard feelings. I mean, I think he had a lot of fans — has a lot of fans." Is this difficult to discuss? "No, just…moving on." Te Tons agree to meet at Doc Crow's, the Main Street restaurant they own with the same two men partnering with them on Bistro Voliere. "We didn't think about Social when deciding to do the new place," Steven Ton says. "It's nothing personal; it's all business. Te past is the past." Asked about Lewellyn, he says, "We don't want to drag anybody through the mud." Does he plan on seeing Lewellyn again? "No. Never." Michael Ton, who had been silent standing to the side of the high table, chimes in. "We're just happy to move forward. Te future is exciting," he says, nodding his head as if to indicate they don't want to answer any more questions about Social. Following the interview, the Tons and one of their partners, Brett Da- vis, head to the Green Building. Demolition on what used to be Social began a few days ago, and they want to observe the progress. Bobby Ben- jamin, from the Seelbach's Oakroom, will be the chef, and Michael Ton plans on "running around like crazy" between Basa and the new place. Inside on this February afternoon, a rubber 732 Social floor mat collects dust in a corner. Workers have erected scaffolding. Stone will go on the wall behind the bar, reclaimed oak on the ceiling, sheer curtains in the front windows, European-style tables and chairs on the front patio. "Every surface in this place is going to be different," Davis says. J ayson Lewellyn, whose first name is actually Ronald, grew up on Cincinnati's west side. "I am a conservative Midwesterner, a regis- tered Republican," he says. "I vote straight party ticket. I believe in the right to own weapons." His mother, Pat, still works for Toyota. Ron, his father, who was in the marines, is still a contractor and Lewellyn's "best friend." Lewellyn's brother, Tony, is 10 years his senior. "When Jay was old enough for school, Tony was old enough to drive him," Pat says. Dur- ing separate interviews, both parents recall a story about how Lewellyn justified the C's on his report card by saying, "If you're average, nobody MICHAEL TON 3.12 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE [49] STEVEN TON GILL HOLLAND

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