Chef John Varanese Announces River House Venture

John Varanese, the chef and owner of Varanese Restaurant on Frankfort Avenue, announced the start of construction on a new major project. The opening of his new restaurant, River House, will fulfill Varanese's dream of opening a riverfront dining option in Louisville, Kentucky. River House is set to open in the first quarter of 2016.

Construction begins this week on the 27,000-square foot space located at 3015 River Road, which was formerly used for boat storage. Varanese first signed an intent to lease the building in 2001, and went as far as getting architectural renderings for his concept in 2004. But, despite his best efforts to push the project forward, the timing was not right.

As a result of these setbacks, Varanese realized he needed to scale back his plans, thus creating his namesake on Frankfort Avenue. Even while working for eight years to make Varanese successful and unique, John was never able to let go of his original grandiose dream, and he kept close watch on the property at 3015 River Road to ensure it was still available.

River House will give guests the sense of a charming "house-like" feel when they arrive at the front entryway featuring an indoor waterwall (a signature element at Varanese restaurant as well), then proceed into the main dining area with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall overlooking the back courtyard and riverfront. Seating will also extend onto the back courtyard overlooking the river, providing options for both upscale casual diners and the boating community.

The menu will feature regional cuisine with Southern flair and an emphasis on seafood with a raw bar. The restaurant will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and around 150 jobs will be created to staff the operation. The contractor for the project is Brasch Constructors, and the total project cost is around $4 million.   

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