Ameirca the Diner logoYe doth protest this diner? Dustin and Kyle Staggers’ newest restaurant project, America. The Diner, is being slowed by a nearby church’s objection to its round-the-clock service schedule.

The Episcopal Church of the Advent (901 Baxter Ave.) has sent a letter to city liquor authorities protesting the issuance of a 24-hour liquor license for ATD (814 Cherokee Road). It’s by no means a dagger in the Staggers’ vision for the vacant building, but it’s a strong warning that folks living nearby don’t want it and will fight it.

According to published reports, the letter’s concerns center on the usual baggage burdening a potentially popular business launch: noise, increased parking and traffic congestion — 24 hours a day since those are its proposed operating hours.

The Staggers say they’re willing to work with the neighborhood and church to play nice, which might mean stopping alcohol sales late at night or reducing outdoor seats.

But given other fights put up by neighbors over new businesses popping up in that area, it’s likely the church and surrounding residents most fear the Staggers’ customers might end up staggering drunk and near their homes.

Dustin Staggers has said in the past that ATD is a family-focused concept, not partier-focused, even though it’ll operate 24-7. But while Ma, Pa and the kiddos might dine from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., those who “step between midnight and day” are the typically sodden sorts who darken diners’ doors beyond the witching hour.

If you support the cause to open ATD as is, click here to sign an e-petition.

Dietrich restaurant not a done deal: Veteran restaurateur Bim Dietrich knows you can have a restaurant concept, a location and a possible team picked out to run it. But if you don’t have the skrilla required to open, it might not be worth mentioning.

That’s the sense I got from a recent Business First article about Dietrich’s latest proposed concept, called The D. He’s chosen the location (the Hilltop Theater building in Clifton, 1757 Frankfort Ave., next door to The Silver Dollar), but he hasn’t signed a lease on it. Plus, he said he’s still underfunded on the project.

I think everyone is happy to hear the former owner of Dietrich’s, Allo Spiedo and Primo wants back in the game. He’s an interesting and friendly guy who’s created nothing but memorable restaurants.

Yet I’m not overly confident this will happen because he said so publicly that the funding isn’t all there. Normally when funds aren’t secure, business people stay quiet, and I don’t gather he was all that eager to talk. Historically, Bim don’t blab.

And speaking of people who aren’t quiet, at least this story puts to death the rumor that big-plans Bobby Flay wants this restaurant location. While 4,400 square feet is a large restaurant by non-chain standards, it’s not large enough for Flay’s vision or backing.

Mike Wadja is the new chef at Proof on Main | Photo by Steve Coomes

Mike Wadja is the new executive chef at Proof on Main | Photo by Steve Coomes

Wajda replaces Wallace as chef at Proof: 21c Museum Hotels announced that Mike Wajda is the new executive chef at its Louisville hotel and, most importantly, Proof on Main. He fills the vacancy left by Levon Wallace, who moved to Nashville, where he’s in hog heaven captaining the kitchen at Cochon.

Most recently Wajda served as corporate sous chef for the prestigious Michael Mina Group, a 23-restaurant group based in San Francisco.

“I am excited to join the 21c team and to be part of Louisville’s dynamic community of restaurants,” Wajda said in a news release. “I look forward to working with local producers and ingredients from the Ohio River Valley. Proof has always let impeccable ingredients and beautiful food speak for itself, and that will not change.”

Chef Stephen Dunn of Equus and Jack's Lounge | Photo by Steve Coomes

Chef Stephen Dunn of Equus and Jack’s Lounge | Photo by Steve Coomes

And speaking of new(ish) chefs: Stephen Dunn, the executive chef at Equus and Jack’s Lounge since November, has created a spring menu that his boss, Dean Corbett, called “better than anything I’ve created for Equus. I give credit where it’s due, and what Stephen’s done is just amazing.”

Well, now, I’d say that’s a pretty good endorsement coming from a fella who’s pretty proud of the grub he’s laid down at that restaurant for 30 years. (I’m so ready to try it that I’m typing this post with knife and fork in hand.)

That Equus has been around that long is noteworthy on its own. It’s older by a year than Jack Fry’s, two years older than Lilly’s, and seven years older than Vincenzo’s.

And speaking of Corbett: Ward 426, the restaurant in which he’s a partner with chef Shawn Ward and Nirmesh Agrawal, officially opened its spacious back patio today — just in time for a flash flood watch. Same for 8UP: Its boss patio officially opened today as well.

April is indeed the cruelest month.

And speaking of 8UP: The restaurant just got its custom-blended and branded bottles of Angel’s Envy bourbon, and it’s selling them at a special signing event on Tuesday, April 7, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. The brand’s production manager, Kyle Henderson, will put his Sharpie to those shapely bottles for anyone willing to pony up $55.

Lucky me, I was at 8UP to take a picture of its new chef, Jacob Coronado, last week, when bar manager Sean Thibadeaux offered me a swallow of the blend. Trust me, it’s delicious, as good a representation of any AE I’ve had (though I do prefer its cask strength selections).

knob creek glassAnd speaking of bourbon: Did you know Knob Creek was chosen Best Bourbon at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in March? Local spirits writer Fred Minnick was a judge at the event, and he shared his observations here.

The recognition says a lot about the quality of Clermont, Ky.-made Knob Creek, especially when you read how closely judges scrutinize those entries. I know I’m a fan. I’ve got a bottle of the 120 proof I pour as the base for potent manhattans.

Manny Honky Tonk chickenNow frying at Manny & Merle: Now that Tony Palombino’s plans to open Barrel House Social are foiled, he’s taking BHS’s core menu item and adding it to the chow list at Manny & Merle. Called Honky Tonk Fried Chicken, this Nashville-style dish is served in whole, half or quarter portions for $17, $8.50 and $5.50, respectively. Choose it to be served Southern-style, hot or hotter.

I’m fully eager to have a plate of this post haste. Fried chicken is like pizza: Even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

And if you happen to be named Merle, you can get a $10 food freebie at M&M on April 7, which is Merle Haggard’s birthday.