Home Business Lexington restaurateur Joe Bologna to retire

Lexington restaurateur Joe Bologna to retire

Longtime Lexington restaurateur Joe Bologna has announced plans to retire, after informing friends, family, and staff that this will be his last Spring and Summer at his namesake restaurant on West Maxwell, Joe Bologna’s. He will turn 79 next month, and has made the decision not to work into his 80s — though it’s not unusual to currently find him welcoming diners, 10 to 12 hours a day.

He has told employees that he will potentially welcome a new buyer, if the right opportunity presents itself, but his current lease at the property will end this summer.

The Italian mainstay has been a part of Lexington’s restaurant scene for more than five decades, and has been a downtown staple on West Maxwell.

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton proclaimed March 1 “Joe B Day” in 2023.

After surviving multiple closures and restrictions during the pandemic, Joe Bologna’s celebrated its 50th anniversary in March of 2023. The restaurant first opened in 1973 at the corner of Maxwell and Limestone, and remained in that spot for more than 15 years before relocating to its current home in the former synagogue at 120 W. Maxwell. Suburban extensions thrived for a time, as did a dedicated delivery service which was far ahead of doordash and ubereats trends.

This time last year, Lexington mayor Linda Gorton officially proclaimed March 1, 2023 “Joe B Day” in Lexington.

Known for its signature breadsticks, pizza, and casual 80s-era Italian fare, the restaurant has survived a move, a fire, two recessions, and a pandemic.

The current location was built as a Presbyterian Church in the 1890s, but served as  a Jewish Synagogue for many years before it was transformed into the popular Italian restaurant in 1989.

Before today’s official announcement, an unofficial memo had been informally circulating on social media announcing the impending retirement at the end of July.


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