A Whitley County native is working to bring a staple of the country music scene in Lexington to Corbin.
Josh Brock, who owns Austin City Saloon in Lexington, has submitted an application for a quota retail license in Corbin doing business as Austin City Saloon.
According to the notice, in conjunction with business partner James Brashear of Louisville, the new location would be at the site of the former Tri-County Pawn and Vacuum at 302 North Main Street.
“Southern Kentucky is my home and always will be,” Brock said in a statement announcing the intention to seek one of the three available quota retail licenses.
“I’ve watched Corbin grow as a community and I’ve watched as they’ve taken a small downtown and turned it into a thriving landscape for small business,” Brock added.
Brock emphasized that the biggest hurdle would be securing one of the licenses.
It was announced in August that a change to state law permits local municipalities to have a limited number of such licenses provided those cities and counties maintain and adequate police force. Three groups, including Brock’s, have announced intentions to seek one of the licenses in Corbin.
State officials had initially stated that Corbin’s population of 7,300 would qualify the city for two such licenses. However, that number was later increased to three to match the number of retail package liquor licenses in the city.
The Corbin City Commission has taken steps to encourage potential investors when commissioners proposed changes to the city’s alcohol license to allow billiards, darts and karaoke in establishments that sell alcohol by the drink.
Brock said plans are to bring the vibe of the original Austin City Saloon to Corbin while adding food service and taking steps to make it a family-friendly environment with the exception of late on Friday and Saturday nights.
“We want to make it a very hospitable environment,” Brock said. “We will introduce music at a time when all ages can enjoy it.”
As to what type of food, Brock said that is yet to be determined. The duo has been in talks with several local restaurant owners about the possibility of serving one of their menus out of the Austin City Saloon’s kitchen.
“It ranges from pizza to barbecue,” Brock said when asked what type of food they are considering.
“It is not going to be anything extravagant,” Brock added. “Ours is a blue collar crowd and we want to keep everything priced correctly.”
At an appointed time on Friday and Saturday nights, customers would be advised that anyone under the age of 21 would have to leave.
“We don’t know the logistics on that yet,” Brock said adding that it would be similar to what other establishments do in that multiple announcements would be made as the deadline approached and customers would be advised as they entered near the deadline.
As to what the Corbin location will look like, Brock said it remains in the design process as he and Brashear work to close the sale of the property.
Brock emphasized that a bar and live music will be staples of the location.
Without live music, we are absolutely nothing,” Brock said adding that stars such as Keith Whitley, Jason Aldean, John Michael Montgomery and Montgomery Gentry have performed at the Lexington location.
“Austin City Saloon has been a staple of live country music for going on 40 years,” Brock said.
“While the look will be different, we want to bring the feel of Austin City Saloon,” Brock added.
Brock said since announcing the plans for the Corbin location on Facebook, thousands of people have liked and shared the announcement.
“We have had people not only from Corbin but, Barbourville, London, Somerset and even Morehead.
Brock said initial plans are to have the new location open by summer, but advised that the timeframe is fluid.
“If we are ready to open by April, we are going to go ahead and open,” Brock said. “On the other hand, something could happen that could delay the opening until next fall.”
Brock said it remains to be seen how many employees the new location will have as the addition of food and other factors will dictate that number.
However, Brock estimated that the initial investment at approximately $250,000.
We want people to come in and look at the place and say, “Wow! Corbin has come a long way,” Brock said.