There is likely no one locally whose image is more tightly woven into his business than successful restaurateur Mark Shepherd — the “Bubby” of Bubby’s BBQ, a popular stop in south Corbin.
After building Bubby’s up from scratch into a popular dining destination, Shepherd is now hoping to parlay his popular personality and business acumen into success once again with Shep’s Place, a sports bar and grill that will officially open to the public Dec. 10 on Main Street in Corbin.
“This has been a dream of mine from a long time ago,” Shepherd said during an interview Monday. “It took awhile to get Bubby’s in the situation where it is at today so that it frees me up with enough time to take on another challenge.”
With Shep’s Place, Shepherd has enthusiastic partners. Local developer and real estate investor Guy Jones is on board. His son, Brandon — who was recently elected to the city’s five member Board of Commissioners — will be a full-time manager of the new restaurant.
Shepherd said the threesome is laser focused on the idea of providing a family atmosphere with Shep’s.
“I think a lot of times, places like this can set the wrong tone,” Shepherd said. “We want people to know this is a family-oriented place. If you think this is someplace you are going to come in and get sloppy drunk and root your team on, we’re not your place. That’s not who we want to be.”
Jones said, from the beginning, that it was important the dining experience be the number one priority.
“We will have quality food. That’s our first concern,” Jones said. “This is going to be a restaurant with a bar, not a bar that serves some food.”
Shep’s also aims to be a virtual paradise for sports fans. Fourteen large TVs are strategically placed around the restaurant. Shepherd said viewers would be able to see any college or NFL football game being televised. Also, Shep’s will frequently feature pay-per-view events like UFC mixed martial arts fight cards, boxing, golfing events, and more.
Jones said patrons would even be able to watch HGTV anytime they want.
“Whatever it takes,” Jones said. “We want people to come here and feel comfortable and have a good experience.”
The full-featured menu will include staples like 10-inch pizzas, five different flavors of wings, special-blend hamburgers and other sandwiches, and specialty desserts.
Brandon Shepherd, who will help manage Shep’s, said there would be 14 beers on tap — a few popular domestics, along with a rotating selection of craft beers on tap and in bottles. Also on offer will be a good selection of bourbon and mixed drinks.
One of the defining features of Shep’s will be an indoor-outdoor bar that will be opened during moderate weather. Jones said the concept came from a place in Nashville that had something similar.
Planning to keep it basic at first, Shepherd said he wants to get more creative as time goes on and offer themed trivia nights and other special events.
Shep’s plans to offer specials daily, and will be open for lunch beginning at 11:00 a.m. every day except Wednesday. It will close at 10:00 p.m. on weeknights, and midnight on weekends, but Shepherd said closing would be flexible on nights where big games are being played.
Shep’s is entering an increasingly crowded downtown dining environment. Jones said that’s a good thing, as far as he’s concerned.
“I think it’s great. The more people that are downtown coming down here to eat, it helps us all,” he said. “We want to be a good neighbor. We aren’t trying to put anybody out of business. We just want to present a good place for people to have a good choice.”
Shep’s Place is located in the former Corbin Cellars location, next to the City Barber Shop. A grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony, sponsored by the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, will be held today (Wednesday) at noon.