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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chef, however, Lewellyn was there and, Kagy says, "He always liked to try new ideas." Lewellyn says a "six-figure lifestyle working 10 months out of the year" as a restaurant consultant led him to Louisville in 2005 for the Marriott opening. "Ten Mr. Ruby obviously comes calling," he says. "You know Mr. Ruby if you're in the kind of position I'm in. He's asked you once, twice, three times to come work for him." (Despite numerous requests, Jeff Ruby could not be reached for comment.) Jimmy Gibson was the corporate chef for Ruby's restaurant company, and he says the day Lewellyn came to the Waterfront in Cincinnati to audition for the Louisville job was the first time Gibson and Lewellyn met. Part of the hiring process, Gibson says, was having each chef make salads and cook hot and cold appetizers, an entrée and desserts. "Jayson impressed us," he says. Ten, unprompted, he adds, "Didn't know much about him, but résumés — I've found great works of short fiction. Any- one can type anything on paper. In our business, you've gotta be able to produce." Lewellyn says the question about his education during the bankruptcy case wasn't "clear." He says his legal team took his résumé and told ev- erybody on it to keep his accomplishments under wraps during ongoing litigation. Tat way, he says, the opposition can't use those achievements in trying to prove fiscal mismanagement on his behalf. "Basically just keep these things — I don't know what the legal term is….My attorneys told everybody not to release any information about me." Ten why did he tell Louisville Magazine about these accomplish- ments? "I didn't want to not put the full picture out there," he says. "Probably should have thought about that ahead of time." When pressed, when asked if he has been honest, he says, "You have the whole story. "I definitely didn't learn all of these things by watching TV." Te day after this explanation, he sends Louisville Magazine a long email. In it, he says he has made the decision to release all claims against the Tons and will ask Holland for mediation. "One thing is for certain," he says. "All parties involved are (not) saints." A bout a month after the meeting at Vietnam Kitchen, Lewellyn flies in from Washington, D.C., where he spends much of his time with his girlfriend, to answer more questions. (He also goes to Cleveland a lot, to be with his two children — an 11-year-old daughter and a son, 10 — from a previous relationship.) While his Germantown home is under construction, he's crashing at a two-floor condo on East Market's 300 block, a friend's place (although Lewellyn says he and a few others are "paying the note" because the owner is having financial struggles) that is on the market for $369,000. In the kitchen, at the island's granite countertop, Lewellyn is watching Bloomberg Television on his iPad and financial indexes from all over the world on a sleek computer monitor. "Tis is nothing more than a study in human behavior," he says. "People are predictable all over the world. You can't read this in a book." He's a day trader with two clients and says that when the work inside his house is finished, he'll be able to monitor everything in real time. "My office will look like it's ready to take off to space," he says. Lewellyn sits at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee. He says he changed his cell phone number recently because of the barrage of text messages and voicemails from people asking about 732 Social. (Marty Rosen says, "As far as I know, Jayson has gone underground.") A tat- too — a "mid-life crisis" — peeks out under his black shirt's right cuff. When asked about it, he rolls up his sleeve. Te ink sheathes his arm, bleeds from his shoulder to his upper back. Tere are cherry blossoms to symbolize "living life in the moment," and also "the Japanese slang word for chef." Lewellyn says he was a blank canvas for the local tattoo artist, a friend named Jay Fish, and that the tattoo — which is the same as "investing in a piece of art" — still needs another 40 or 50 hours of work before it's completed. Asked if he has many Louisville friends, Lewellyn says there are only three people. "And I don't even talk to them very often," he says. He spends a lot of time by himself training for triathlons. When the So- cial litigation was at its most stressful, Lewellyn would exercise some 30 hours a week. Sometimes, after closing on Saturday, he'd leave in the middle of the night for a race Sunday morning. "I need to burn up energy or I'm going to do something very unhealthy," he says. Like what? "I don't know. I've never done it so I'm afraid to stop now." Soon, like always, the conversation turns to Social. "It didn't matter who was right. Nobody wants that kind of drama around dinner," he says. "You know what I should have done? I should have moved the restaurant. My fault was not picking up my toys and going somewhere where the environment was healthier." Lewellyn is still convinced that, from day one, the goal of Holland and the Tons was to steal his idea. During the litigation, Lewellyn got his hands on an email Holland sent Steven Ton. It reads: "lets (sic) move toward his buying you out and you and I can take that money and start working on 812 east market : )." "It didn't matter who was right. Nobody wants that kind of drama around dinner." — Jayson Lewellyn "My downfall: I genuinely feel people are who they say they are," Lewellyn says. "From the minute they met me, they had been planning this….But I had to do Social or it was just going to live in my head for- ever. And now I've learned to let it live up there forever." Would Holland want a restaurant in his building, in a neighborhood he's championed, to fail? "Well, you definitely want it to fail if you want the people who I ousted in there." Tat's what you believe? "What's going in there now?" How responsible is Social for the neighborhood's success? "For me to say that it has contributed to the success, I would have to identify the fact that I think that it's a success. And I don't." Lewellyn still loves Louisville, says it's the first place where he hasn't wanted to live out of a suitcase. "With Social, I think it was who was going to run who out of town," he says. "We all could have been so happy." He says his day-trading work is based here and that he's still doing restaurant consulting. He has debated moving closer to his children and also says he is developing a "game-changer," a "kaizen" or "Six Sigma" management system that will "revolutionize" the hospitality industry. He wants to base the new venture in town but says he doesn't know whom to trust here and that his name is "mud" in this town anyway. Te September day Lewellyn broke the news to his staff about Social closing, one of the first people he texted was Hall, the general manager. She wasn't exactly surprised and, once the news sunk in, got busy calling the 75 people who'd already called ahead for tables that evening. Later, Lewellyn gathered his dozen or so employees at the restaurant. Hall was so sad she had to excuse herself. "I started and just broke down," Lewellyn says. "Even thinking about it now, it gets…." When everybody else had left, Lewellyn says, he called his girlfriend, forced himself to find peace with everything, to not be angry anymore. Ten he cooked. Te last meal, he says, also happened to be the first meal he'd made in the kitchen more than two years earlier. Te fresh mussels were washed and cold, mixed with garlic, salt and pepper, minced herbs, vinegar and lemon. He dropped a big handful of them, about a pound's worth, into a scalding cast-iron skillet, then put a lid on it so the flavors could mingle. "Only one way to cook 'em," he says. He added some white wine and butter. When they were done — when the shells popped open just a little bit — he put them in a bowl, added some hard Parmesan cheese. He ate them by himself at the food counter. Q Reach managing editor Josh Moss at jmoss@loumag.com. 3.12 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE [51]

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