Business Spotlight: Cliffside changes hands, not menu or staff

Kevin Ritchie is the new owner of Frankfort’s iconic Cliffside Restaurant. He took over on March 29. (Photo by Phil Case)

After 21 years as a supervisor at the Georgetown Toyota plant, Kevin Ritchie was looking for something different to do.

“I left there last June,” he said while sitting at one of the picnic tables outside Cliffside Restaurant. “I was doing a little real estate and while looking at LBar, I saw this place was for sale.”

With no restaurant experience beyond working “six months at KFC in high school,” Ritchie purchased the 39-seat diner on Old Lawrenceburg Road from Keith and Sandy McGaughey. He took over March 29.

The transition was seamless, Ritchie said, thanks to an excellent staff and support from the McGaugheys.

“Keith and Sandy have been great,” he said. “They have done everything to ensure Cliffside continues to do well.”

Across its history, Cliffside has changed hands, closed and reopened several times. At least a portion of that odyssey is reflected in framed State Journal articles in the hallway. Ritchie, who currently lives in Georgetown but wants to move here, hopes this will be the last change.

Ritchie said he didn’t know much about the intricacies of restaurant operation, but he does know something about budgeting and management. He intends to put that expertise to good use.

“I don’t plan to change the menu other than perhaps to offer more items; I’m not changing the staff other than to add more people; and we plan to stay open later,” Ritchie said of his current plan.

Staff members are Regina Ellis, Traci McGranahan, Christie Kays, Amber Cash, Whitney Young, Amber Sebastian, Laura Hensley and Ronae Couch.

Ritchie said he wants to use more local produce and participate in the Kentucky Proud program.

“So far I’ve had a ball with this. I want to be a hands-on owner, but I don’t want to get in the way of the staff. I want to learn from them.”

Ritchie said he helps where needed — like washing dishes — but he isn’t involved in the cooking.

All food is prepared on site, he said. “It’s all fresh and we cook it right here. Traci does hand-made pies, too.”

Ritchie said he wants to be involved with the customers. “Cliffside has a very loyal clientele. There are people who come in and sit at the same bar stool every time.

“I came here and ate and loved the atmosphere.”

The atmosphere — and décor — haven’t changed much at Cliffside, no matter whose name is on the deed.

Hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday; and 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday.

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