Lexington Nightlife Growing, Needs More Suburbanites

Dec 11, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The number of bars and restaurants in downtown Lexington has tripled in recent years, but community leaders say more work needs to be done in attracting people to the urban core after dark. 

Officials with Downtown Lexington Corporation are reviewing the progress made since a 2008 study commissioned by a downtown entertainment task force.

There were five major recommendations made in that report:

  • Facilitate new business development and access to rules and regulations for new businesses
  • Contemporize codes and ordinances
  • Improve perception of safety
  • Improve communication and collaboration
  • Expand vitality and customer base

“I think the long-term [challenge] is too look at the value of the nighttime economy and to really dedicate a similar emphasis to how you build and nurture the nighttime economy that you would the daytime economy,” says Jim Peters, President of Responsible Hospitality Institute, which conducted the study.

There are more than 20 bars and restaurants in downtown Lexington, compared to around 7 in the mid 2000's. Although there a growing number of entertainment options, confusion about traffic and parking availability may keep many people in the suburbs.

“We have an opportunity to get more people down here but there’s an education process that needs to tack place, not only among the venue operators, but among the patrons and the public,” says DLC Executive Director Renee Jackson.

Events such as Thursday Night Live have helped bring a diverse mix of people downtown, but Jackson says a promotional campaign needs to be developed highlighting the “social spontaneity” that Lexington’s urban area offers.

Work continues on a proposal to create a Business Improvement District, which Downtown Lexington Corporation says would generate funds for better marketing of downtown attractions.