5 questions with chef, restaurateur John Varanese

5 questions with chef, restaurateur John Varanese

wave3Louisville isn’t short on good places to eat – and now there’s another one. This one in a former boat-storage facility along the Ohio River, right near King Fish.

The chef and part of the investor group is John Varanese, who also owns Varanese Restaurant on Frankfort Avenue. The $4 million renovation will be on full display at its grand opening on March 7.

This week my five questions are with John Varanese:

1) I understand you first signed an intent to lease the property in 2001. Why did you want to open a restaurant there for so long?

It’s a spectacular location. Riverfront dining in Louisville is under-utilized. Besides that the property is built out of the flood zone and has plenty of parking, it’s accessible by all major freeways, main artery three miles from downtown (Zorn Avenue) and is in the backyard of one of the wealthiest communities in the state.

2) This is a huge building. How do you plan on filling it?

I have divided the first floor into two different restaurants with separate kitchens. The River House has a southern influence with an emphasis on seafood and raw bar and the Levee is small plates with soft seating and live entertainment nightly.

3) What do you recommend first timers order at River House?

The raw bar! Over six varieties of oysters, shrimp, mussels, lobster, king crab and octopus. Hard to choose because I like it all.

4) You and I were in a dance competition together in 2014 called “Let’s Dance Louisville” that raised money for Feed My Neighbor. Have you danced since then?

Unfortunately, no time to dance. It’s like anything else. If you want to be good at it, it takes time and practice. And we all know there is no time left for me. This is the first time in 15 years I haven’t made it out west to go skiing.

5) If you could serve anyone at River House, who would that person be?

My parents, which I had a chance to do all weekend. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here today without their love and support. Oh, and of course, my wife.

To learn more about River House, click here.

 

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