But don't worry, The Empire is here to stay.
Dear Lovely Louisville,
It is with a very heavy heart that after nearly 12 years of operating the Empire, we, the Cohen family have decided it is time to pass on operation of our beloved restaurant. As many of you know, our lives have greatly changed in the last few years. Jim, founding chef and owner of the Empire had a severe stroke in 2015 that left him with locked-in syndrome and on a long road to recovery. Thanks to many of you and Jim’s willful attitude he was able to make an unprecedented comeback. However he is not able to be in the restaurant to the capacity he wishes due to the disabilities caused by his stroke. I, Lexi, Jim’s daughter, original face behind the bar and recently acting owner, have started a family of my own in recent years. With baby number two on the way and a very busy 15-month-old at home, family life has drawn me away from the Empire which has left me unable to give it the attention and love it deserves.
While my dad and longtime business partner Ken Wolf will continue ownership of 816 Main Street, we have decided to pass the operations torch to friend and Chef Jeff Osaka alongside his Director of Operations, Michael Burbage. They bring you years of experience in Colorado with 12@Madison, Sushi-Rama and Osaka Ramen and are excited to continue the legacy of The Empire Lounge and Restaurant. You will also still see many of the familiar faces from our staff you've come to know and love over the years.
It has truly been a great joy owning the Empire and being a part of this unbelievably special community that is Louisville. When we opened the doors in 2008, there wasn’t much to Main Street. Thanks to the hard work of many and continued patronage to Old Town Louisville, we have seen Main St. transform in to the vibrant place it is today. Having many of the same faces join us week after week, year after year, has made owning this restaurant feel like so much more than a business. We have witnessed many friendships bloom here, little ones grow up, and first dates turn into weddings. It has been such an honor to have been a part of it all.
Louisville, we love you dearly. This is not goodbye, but more of a 'see you later,' as you may catch me and my family at the table next to you, enjoying the fruits of our labor. Thanks for the great memories! We hope to see you again soon!
With lots of Love,
Jim, Lexi, Connie, Hannah, Evvy & Andy