St. Charles Exchange opened its doors in the spring of 2012 to a grand reception. Many flocked to see the pre-Prohibition stylings of the classy new restaurant situated in a 180-year-old building at Seventh and Main streets, a stone’s throw away from Proof on Main and 21c.
With the backing of a Philadelphia company and local investors, St. Charles quickly found its place among the upscale eateries and cocktail bars in the West Main district. Chefs, managers and bartenders came and went, as happens in the industry (see 8UP).
Things seemed to be going well until Monday, when the restaurant’s chef, Richard D. Adams Jr., turned to his Facebook page to vent frustrations and accuse the restaurant of not paying its vendors or rent, and of not guaranteeing that the staff would be paid. He quit the same day:
Concerned friends and fellow diners chimed in, and one vendor, Sheltowee Farm, said it had not been paid for $240 it invoiced St. Charles three times. “Vendors are not banks with interest-free loans that you can default on,” said Billy Webb, who associated himself with Sheltowee Farm.
Insider reached out to St. Charles’ general manager, Lauren Farrar-Molina, to find out what’s really going on behind the doors at 113 S. Seventh St. She confirmed not only that Adams quit on Monday, but also that the restaurant is now for sale. She didn’t disclose an asking price.
The Philadelphia company that owns most of St. Charles, Adminovate, wants out, Farrar-Molina said, but it intends to keep the doors open and cover all expenses, including payroll, until the restaurant is sold. She said the staff would be paid and that payroll was processed the same day Adams quit, as it has been every other week since 2012.
Insider reached out to Adminovate for comment, but no one there had responded as of press time.
Farrar-Molina said her team would try to keep the doors open as long as possible, but with the loss of the head chef, they might have to close Friday for at least a week to “regroup.” She added there are dozens of private parties booked throughout the next few months and said the restaurant plans to maintain business as usual — with perhaps a slight menu adjustment.
She said she’s apprehensive about the future, as the sale is out of her control, but said she believes in her staff and the reputation St. Charles has built.
“I feel like we’re a part of Louisville now,” she said. “We have a killer happy hour, a highly regarded cocktail program and an eclectic menu — we are part of the restaurant scene and want to stay that way.”
Farrar-Molina also said there could be a silver lining: If St. Charles is purchased by someone here, the restaurant would be 100 percent locally owned and operated, which would “definitely be a good thing,” she said.