You’ve got a milestone birthday coming up. Or a co-worker is having a baby and the girls from the office want to throw her a special shower. Maybe you’re planning a retirement party? Or a rehearsal dinner? You need a private space for your guests, you would like the food and bar to be provided, but you don’t need a grand location for your small- to medium-size guest list. There seem to be more and more occasions that fall somewhere in between calling ahead for dinner reservations and booking a formal event space for a wedding or a bar or bat mitzvah. Here’s a roundup of 13 Louisville restaurants that would provide the perfect setting for your small(ish) event.
1034 Bardstown Road, Louisville KY, 40204 • (502) 459-9939
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Choir Loft hours begin Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m., Friday through Sunday, 5 p.m.
Take me to church! Or just pray that the Holy Grale’s upstairs Choir Loft can take your small gathering. If so, your guests will surely praise you! Up to 30 guests can enjoy the extensive collection of Holy Grale’s specialty craft beers and locally sourced eats in what used to be the choir loft in this unique 1905 former Unitarian Church in the Highlands. To reserve the entire (small) loft, you must buy out the entire evening, beginning as early as 4 p.m. Intimate and unique setting — yes. Intricate booking policies — yes, as well. Best to take a look at the website and then email reservation requests to rsv[email protected]; someone from the restaurant will get back to you within 48 hours (except on Friday or Saturday, when they do not take reservations).
If you’ve never dined at Holy Grale before (and you should! It’s delicious!), there are some particular details to consider before booking your private party. It’s 21 and up, and you’ll only find food and beer — but there’s lots of it! So no wine, bourbon or soft drinks — some things to keep in mind, depending on who’s coming to your party.
1147 Bardstown Road, Louisville KY 40204 • (502) 451-0447
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Closed Sunday and Monday
Any roundup of Louisville restaurants that does not mention Lilly’s Bistro will surely raise eyebrows with anyone who appreciates fine artisanal food with a Kentucky flair. Founded in 1988 by Kathy Cary, perhaps Louisville’s first celebrity chef and true pioneer of the farm-to-table locavore movement, Lilly’s menu changes every few weeks to reflect the seasonal offerings of our region. If you’re planning a dinner of about 20 guests to celebrate a birthday or engagement, it would be difficult to go wrong at Lilly’s. This Bardstown Road mainstay consistently hosts unique dinners and culinary events featuring handpicked cocktails and special food pairings, so you can be sure that their expertise in creating memorable evenings centered around carefully crafted menus will carry over to your private party. Contact Jeff, the special event coordinator, at [email protected] to plan your menu, learn about their extensive wine and cocktail offerings, and reserve the back room for your private engagement.
3608 Brownsboro Road, Louisville KY 40207 • (502) 632-4421
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Mesh took Louisville by storm last spring when it opened in the former location of the much-revered, see-and-be-seen Azalea’s; lucky for you, the expansive new interior of Mesh includes two private dining rooms that can hold a crowd, perfect for your small to large gathering. Make it easy on yourself and choose a prix fixe menu, or if you’d rather have a reception-style party and let guests munch on apps, you can also choose a buffet menu, priced per item, with an 80-piece minimum. Mesh also offers a convenient private lunch dining package, where your guests will receive a printed menu consisting of four small plates, entree salad or sandwich choices. This option would be perfect for a work celebration. Finally, if a weekend shower would perfectly suit the bride or mom-to-be, choose Mesh’s brunch menu. Payment is due upon completion of your event and includes 6 percent sales tax and 3 percent service fee. Outside decorations are allowed, and staff will try to accommodate your request for specific dining areas within the restaurant.
702 W. Main St., Louisville KY 40202 • (502) 217-6360
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, 12 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Dining inside 21c, the South’s original art museum and hotel, has many perks: your party pictures will win Instagram, your guests can enjoy more than 75 of the Commonwealth’s finest bourbons, you’ll dine on upscale farm-to-table fare and you have eight unique event spaces from which to choose, accommodating parties from 10 to 450 people. Proof on Main can host your private party of up to 24 people, perfect for a swanky dinner or small party where you’ll be surrounded by thought-provoking art, sipping artisanal cocktails and savoring seasonal bites from an ever-changing, locally sourced menu. Inside 21c, there are four private meeting rooms for 10 to 60 people and a conference room (with A/V capabilities) for up to 12 people. For booking and more info, call or email [email protected].
5700 Captain’s Quarters Road, Prospect KY 40059 • (502) 228-1651
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday brunch, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., full menu available 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The only venue on our list that can be reached by car or by boat, Captain’s Quarters’ prime location on the Ohio River will make your event a memorable one, no matter the time of day for your party of 50 to 150 guests. If weather is iffy, the indoor Veranda Room can hold 60 guests at round tables with a buffet or 80 guests for dinner service. The Stone Room is a reasonably priced indoor option, holding 30 to 40 friends. This cozy room is the original Harrod’s Tavern, constructed in the 1800s, and the roaring fireplace would be a welcome addition on a cool fall or winter night. The River Deck — the open-air tent perched on the deck overlooking the Ohio — is a perfect place for a rehearsal dinner, big retirement party or a reunion. With a buffet table on the deck, you can fit 80 friends; with no buffet, 100 guests can be seated comfortably at round tables.
If these options aren’t enough and you really want to take your party to the next level, consider the most unique private party offering in Louisville, the CQ Princess. This 96-foot yacht will accommodate 110 seated guests for lunch or dinner or up to 125 for cocktails. Rates vary depending on whether you choose a day cruise or a weekend evening cruise, and all charters require a three-hour minimum. To discuss all the details, contact tour coordinator Jeff Placke at (502) 228-1651.
610 Magnolia Ave., Louisville KY 40208 • (502) 636-0783
Hours: Wednesday through Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m; Closed Sunday through Tuesday.
While there is an opportunity to use a portion of the main restaurant at 610 Magnolia for your smaller special event (up to 60 people), the ideal place to host anything from a birthday party, a cocktail party, a client dinner or a gathering of food-loving individuals is across the street at their sister property, The Wine Studio. With an open kitchen inside a perfectly sized modern space, The Wine Studio also has a wonderful patio area where people can congregate. Guests can watch the chef prepare their meal and are also tended to by a wine steward and wait staff throughout the night. This is a culinary experience to enjoy, with the comfort and familiarity you cannot get in a large event space. The Wine Studio is 850 square feet, and the patio is 2,000 square feet and also has a wood-burning oven for even more cooking experiences. Menus are completely customized for your event.
2437 Brownsboro Road, Louisville KY 40206 • (502) 893-2062
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 4:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Closed Sundays
For nearly 60 years, locals have celebrated some of life’s most important milestones at Pat’s Steakhouse, and with three private rooms and so many years of experience, it’s still a perfect location for a rehearsal dinner, anniversary or birthday party. The staff will lovingly help you decide on the best room for your celebration — they’re all cozy, collected and timeless. The Leprechaun Room seats up to 30; the Dublin Room holds 55 and is conveniently connected to the outdoor Garden Room; Paddy’s Pub can accommodate 20; and the enclosed patio room can seat up to 25. If you’ve got the luck of the Irish and your celebration is on one of those perfect Louisville spring nights or during a warm October, the outdoor patio (with bar) will give your party of 40 a night to remember.
Deciding the menu should be pretty pain-free; you’ll simply choose a few varied options from their menu, the waiter presents them to your group, you pay on one check and a 20 percent gratuity is included. This Louisville landmark will make you and your guests feel at home, and sometimes that’s priceless when planning a special event.
956 Baxter Ave., Louisville, KY 40204 • (502) 589-7373
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m to 4 a.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Closed Mondays
You may not have been to O’Shea’s in the Highlands since that forgettable incident after the Bardstown Road St. Patrick’s Day parade years ago, but don’t let that stop you from including this location on your list. This popular Highlands pub helps you throw a terrific party in either their Carriage House or the Grotto. Leather chairs and exposed brick set the scene in the Carriage House, a space that gives off a Prohibition-era vibe in all ways except that you will have no problem ordering a drink. This area can accommodate 10 to 20 seated guests or up to 50 for cocktails, and friends can spill out on the outdoor patio if the weather plays fair. The casual porch ambience of the Grotto can seat 30 to 50 people or hold up to 120 people ready to celebrate your rehearsal dinner, reunion, engagement or graduation party. The benefits of booking your party at O’Shea’s are the lively location and the room to spread out and mingle. However, even though you’re not there for five-star dining, don’t think your guests will leave hungry. Go with the appetizer buffet option and feast on pub grub like fried pickle chips and Reuben won tons all night long. Who’s going to argue with that? It’s the perfect space if you’re ready to party.
123 W. Main St., Louisville KY 40202 • (502) 708-2488
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.; Closed Sundays
Downtown on Whiskey Row, O’Shea’s can accommodate larger events like wedding receptions in the penthouse and rooftop lounge (indoor/outdoor, holding up to 200 people), but they also have several other private areas for medium-size gatherings. There are separate rental fees for each room, depending on the day of the week and your party’s time of day.
The Loft 123 can seat 50 to 150 in its modern, yet cozy, space. Seated parties of 30 to 100 or cocktail parties up to 250 people will love the downstairs Whiskey Cellar, with its exposed brick walls and bourbon barrels, which are perfect for a birthday or retirement party. In addition, there are two other semiprivate spaces in the main dining areas where your guests will be comfortable and ready to celebrate! You can choose a buffet or opt to pass appetizers at your cocktail party, and at a seated dinner, all food is pre-ordered off the catering menu. There is no additional charge for your favorite band to set up, in case you want to provide your own entertainment.
919 Baxter Ave., Louisville KY 40204 • (502) 614-8424
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
If you’re looking for a casual space to host a team banquet or to celebrate with old friends over pizza and beer, DiOrio’s in the Highlands makes it really easy for you. Unlike some restaurants, they do not charge an event fee, and there is no deposit required. Kids are welcome, and a screen and A/V equipment are available upon request. The pizza’s good, the room is spacious and you can bring in your own decorations. Finding good pizza on the Bardstown Road/Baxter Avenue corridor isn’t exactly the most difficult feat in Louisville, but if you haven’t tried DiOrio’s NYC-style pizza, make sure it’s on your radar. Big slices of cheesy pizza and crispy hot wings will delight your crowd, young or old. Your son’s baseball banquet, the bowling league award ceremony, a casual predance dinner for the teenagers … can you say “no-brainer?”
2255 Frankfort Ave., Louisville KY 40206 • (502) 894-8838
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Bourbons Bistro in historic Clifton claims to be “where Bourbon Country comes to eat,” and it’s also a terrific location for your private event. The 19th-century building on Frankfort Avenue provides a comfortable, yet upscale, ambience, and with more than 130 bourbons to choose from, the only problem you might have is making your bar selections! An enclosed patio on the first floor can seat up to 30 guests, and the Rick Room, located upstairs and accessible through a private entrance, can accommodate up to 70 friends. There’s even room for a band or a screen for your slide show. Bourbons will work with you to customize a party menu, and they’ll accommodate anything from passing appetizers at a cocktail-style party to a buffet or three-course meal. As you work with their friendly staff to plan your event, as long as you meet a minimum dollar amount through food and beverages, there is no rental fee for the Rick Room.
1761 Frankfort Ave., Louisville KY 40206 • (502) 259-9540
Hours: Monday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Don’t forget that The Silver Dollar, the firehouse turned hip honky-tonk bar and restaurant on Frankfort Avenue, also has a private event space upstairs. You can fit 60 to 70 friends for a seated dinner or up to 100 for cocktails in the open space, but you must meet a $1,000 minimum for food and drinks, including the $250 rental fee. The event coordinator will work with you to create a custom menu from The Silver Dollar’s Southern-meets-California menu offerings, including brisket, fried oysters, chili and fried catfish.
350 W. Chestnut St., Louisville KY 40202 • (502) 631-4180
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
When 8UP opened last year, it seemed to be THE place to go for girls’ nights out or engagement celebrations. (Scroll through your Facebook pictures from last summer if you don’t believe me — lots of smiling ladies, drinks in hand, happily dining atop the Hilton Garden Inn.) So if you’re looking for a trendy atmosphere for your event, made even more memorable by the views you’ll enjoy of downtown Louisville from — you guessed it — the eighth floor, 8UP is the venue for you. For up to 50 seated guests or more than 75 standing guests, the Boardroom offers fully retractable glass walls for a semiprivate or private gathering. If the weather is nice and you’re looking for indoor/outdoor space, the Garden Room provides a swanky experience for 25 to 35 seated guests. This is the event space you probably came for — the interior bar opens up to the large rooftop patio, and the fun outdoor seating can be configured any way you choose.
Give one of these Louisville restaurants a call and plan your shower, dinner or party with a pro. There’s nothing better than celebrating an important event with good friends, delicious food, great drinks, a festive atmosphere and no stress. And let’s face it, the best part is that you don’t have to clean up in the morning. Have fun!
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