Avalon Space to become 'El Camino' Tiki Bar and Restaurant

Residents of the Highlands and foodies from all over the Louisville area were stunned when one of the most popular and seemingly successful Bardstown Road restaurants abruptly closed it’s doors.  Avalon turned off it’s lights and employees walked out at the end of dinner service, never to return, after business owner Steve Clements decided to cease operations back in July.  Clements pulled the plug on Avalon after suffering financial problems stemming from a law suit connected to his Catering Company; Clements Catering.  

For those die hard Avalon fans that were hoping the restaurant would re-open, that unfortunately doesn’t seem to be the future for the restaurant.  There is however, an exciting new plan for a quirky and unique restaurant to move in to the space.  

After many phone calls and bids on the property over the past several months, there has been some speculation that the investors of the new and popular restaurant, The Silver Dollar have a sincere interest in the space. Now we can confirm that Larry Rice, part owner of The Silver Dollar and past owner of 732 Social and his team of Silver Dollar partners, are in the final stages of acquiring the Avalon property. Just a few final pieces of financial paperwork stand in the way of the Silver Dollar Team taking over the Avalon Restaurant and putting in it’s place, the “El Camino” Restaurant.

El Camino is going to have three aspects to it’s vibe, it will serve Mexican street food from East Los Angeles and Mexico City, have a Tiki Bar, and will have an overall laid back “California surf hangout” vibe  complete with California surf music.  The tiki bar will serve the over the top cocktails that you would expect from a traditional tiki bar. Drinks serves in pineapples, scorpion bowls, and tiki idol mugs will all be available for your enjoyment at the bar. The restaurant is going to have more entertainment and be more social than most restaurants, but Rice assures that guests will have the choice to sit close to “the show” or away from the entertainment for a quieter dining experience.  

The Executive Chef of El Camino will be Jonathan Shwartz, Head Chef of the Silver Dollar.  Shwartz will prepare to cook Mexican Street food by leaning on his Mexican wife and consulting with his Mother-in Law who runs a business in Cancun but will be spending several months in Louisville to help the business get off  to a good start. 

El Camino is going to be nothing like anything we have seen on Bardstown Road to date.  It is going to be interesting to see how they balance the “cheese factor” with true entertainment.  As long as the food and the drinks are high quality and the service is excellent, I think they will be a success. I am excited for a fun restaurant to enter the dining stratosphere that doesn’t sound too stuffy!

From an Earlier Blog:

Highlanders have found themselves wrapped up in yet another mystery, the sudden and unforeseen closing of the Avalon restaurant.  Avalon abruptly closed it’s doors last week, posting white paper signs in the windows stating their closure was due to “unforeseen circumstances.”  Avalon opened it’s doors in 2002 and was one of the most popular hot spots on Bardstown Road’s Restaurant Row.  Avalon has won numerous award and accolades over it’s ten years of service. Most recently it won Metromix Louisville’s Best Date and Special Occasion Spot, Best of Louisville Award for Best Patio Dining, and was given over ten published reviews and write-ups in the last year. he Lobster Mac and Cheese, signature cocktails, and lively patio were all staples of Avalon that will surely be missed by many. 

I walked by the front of the restaurant yesterday, and I peeked inside the large windows to see what shape it was in.  It was rather odd, as if someone came in and told everyone to drop what they were doing, mid sweep, and leave.  Dust pans are still by the bathrooms, tables are still set, and nothing seems to be touched from the end of dinner service.  Something didn’t seem right.  Avalon was a hip restaurant, a place to be and be seen, nearly always busy.  So what could force them to close their doors, and so suddenly at that?     

In just the past couple of days, information has started to surface, that is helping us understand why Avalon had to shut down.  Steve Clements, owner of Avalon, is also the operator of Clements Catering. Clements Catering was headquartered at the Kentucky Derby Museum up until a week before the mysterious closing of Avalon.  Apparently, Clements was let go by the Kentucky Derby Museum, and is now being sued by the Museum, citing “unresolved conflicts.” There is speculation that for the past few years, Clements has been defrauding the Kentucky Derby Museum with “creative accounting.” Neither side has come out and said that this is the case, but the Kentucky Derby Museum is asking for compensation plus punitive damages.  Clements is the owner of Luna Boutique as well. Luna Boutique offers jewelry, accessories, and spa treatments. Luna Boutique is still open and having a 50% off sale, but their future is still unknown.  

It is really a shame to lose a great restaurant like Avalon, especially so suddenly.  In time we will see what happens with this story, if Avalon will ever re-open, or if it is gone for good.  The good news is that in Louisville we are not lacking in the great food department. We will survive without Avalon’s Lobster Mac and Cheese, it might be hard for a while, but we will find a way.    

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