Ruby, Covington want Waterfront to stay

COVINGTON, Ky. - The City of Covington is working on the details for a plan tokeep Jeff Ruby's Waterfront restaurant at the Covington Landing.City leaders held a meeting with the restaurant owner on Monday toexpress to the public that both sides want to work out a deal. Theyheld the meeting at the Marriott overlooking the Covington Landingwhere the restaurant now floats.

On March 12, the floating restaurant suddenly broke away fromits mooring at mile marker 471 on the Ohio River and moved about 80feet downstream where it rested underneath the Clay Wade BaileyBridge. First responders secured a ladder to the restaurant'sgangway to allow the passengers to evacuate one at a time. Thatsame weekend, four tugboats pushed the longtime restaurant upriverand tied it off at the Covington Landing. It sits there now unableto open and looking for direction.

Covington leaders have an entire revitalization plan in mindthat would include the Waterfront as a main attraction.

"We're a pioneer on riverfront development. Right now we have noactive restaurants," said Covington Mayor Denny Bowman. "We don'twant to lose our final restaurant." At the height of floatingrestaurants in Covington, there were 15 different options fordiners to consider. Now, the Waterfront is the lone onefloating.

Ruby said he has received an outpouring of support throughletters and calls from people on both sides of the river wantinghim to stay.

"We're the only ones left." Ruby said. "That's because of thepeople of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky supporting us.And they're still supporting us with all of these kind letters. Idon't want to leave. I'd like to stay to reward all of that supportbecause they want us to stay. The people want us to stay. The Cityhas expressed, look at this, they want us to stay. It's nice to bewanted."

"We've had everything from Michael Jordan to the King ofJordan," added Ruby. "We've had Ann Margret to MargaretThatcher."

Engineers for the city have to detail all of the elementsinvolved in securing the floating restaurant to its new location.The city also has to work out a new lease deal. They say the lastlease was in 1985 and so many things have changed since then. Rubysays he wants to stay, but says there will be a high cost involvedwith keeping the Waterfront in business. "We have to wait to findout what the engineering people say. What we can work out with theCity of Covington. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, buttoday we have to deal with it and come to some kind ofresolution."

Ruby said it is definitely the customers that motivate him andnot money. He said he spends a great deal more on insurance for hisone floating restaurant than for all of his other land-lockedrestaurants. He does it because he wants to continue to entertainpeople.

City officials said it will take about three weeks for moredetailed plans to be presented for further consideration. The citybelieves the new location is better for the restaurant. MayorBowman said it is safer, it offers a better view of downtown, it isbetter connected to hotels and the convention center, and it's abetter location to help Jeff Ruby be successful.


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