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By Katie Perkowski
Walking off West Short Street and into Parlay Social, one of Lexington’s newest dining and entertainment spots, is like stepping out of the busyness of a thriving downtown and into the relaxed feeling of home.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say that they kind of feel like this place reminds them of … bars in different places that they’ve been in New York or Chicago. It may have a little more urban feel to it than some other places, but really what we’re trying to do is be a comfortable place where people can come in and relax,” said general manager Joy Breeding.
“I’ve also had a lot of people say that we really seem to fit … what Lexington needs,” she added.
Parlay Social, which moved into the space formerly occupied by the bar Pulse near Cheapside Park on the corner of West Short and Market streets, opened this past October as a “Prohibition Era throwback to the speak easies of old; a destination and gathering place in downtown Lexington,” as described on its website.
The idea for the bar, complete with food, handcrafted cocktails and live music, came out of a discussion with Bob Estes, the building’s owner, Breeding said.
“We had discussed together as partners, what we thought Lexington was missing and … what’s the demand, and one of those demands was live music,” Breeding said. “So we wanted to be kind of an upscale place that had a lot to offer and different clientele, different-aged clientele, and you know an option to be able to come in somewhere and sit down and listen to some live music without having to yell and scream at each other.”
Parlay Social is committed to offering live music Wednesday through Saturday nights, Breeding said, and management worked hard to design the sound system so that music is at a level everyone can enjoy.
And in January, Parlay Social debuted its full lunch and dinner menu. It also has offered special events such as trivia nights and bourbon classes.
One thing the bar is not though, Breeding said, is a “college bar.”
“So we’re trying to be an adult-fun destination spot for folks that want to listen to live music, have some good … interesting, tasty food without breaking the bank,” she said. “We kind of feel like we’ve definitely hit that mark.”
Those with the right timing to finish off a bottle of the bar’s Maker’s Mark selection may even find themselves a member of Parlay’s Maker’s Mark Bottle Club. Breeding said when a person or a group finishes off a bottle of bourbon, staff members celebrate it. It was an idea she and others thought of after visiting a bar in Chicago that had a sign showing how many bottles of Maker’s Mark had been sold there.
“When we came back and when we were designing and figuring out different things we wanted to do, we thought ‘How cool would it be to have that?’” she said. “So every time somebody kills a bottle of Maker’s, they turn the number, we take their picture, they sign the bottle, and we kind of celebrate it, and then we post it up on Facebook.
“Now we have people that have turned multiple numbers.”
As of Monday, Parlay’s Maker’s Mark number was at 396.
Parlay Social has received positive reaction from the Lexington community and has attracted its own “regulars,” Breeding said.
“It’s a spot where people are getting off work downtown and instead of getting in their cars and going home, they come down to enjoy happy hour at Parlay,” she said. “. … We’re also in what I would refer to as a destination area.”
Parlay Social has a large mix of offerings, Breeding said, including ones for those who rarely go out.
“I’ve actually talked to quite a few people lately … that kind of fit a demographic of ‘I really don’t ever come out,’ but if they found that they’ve strolled into Parlay Social, all the sudden they’re like ‘Oh my gosh,’ you know this is where they want to be when they come out because it’s adult,” she said.
With its diverse menu and live music, Breeding said it’s a place “for the person that might be seeking out a new spot.”
For more information, visit parlaysocial.com.
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