Two Keys Tavern, Taphouse bar to reopen on South Limestone

Until recently, it looked like Two Keys Tavern, the longtime bar on the University of Kentucky campus, was gone for good.

Now it’s not one, but two businesses claiming the legendary “Two Keys” heritage: One announced Tuesday it would open at 385 S. Limestone, but another is making plans at the location of originally where Two Keys Tavern was for 66 years. at 333 S. Limestone.

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On Tuesday, a revived “Two Keys Tavern” was announced to open in August next to the Clubhouse nightclub, reportedly by former Two Keys Tavern operator Seth Bennett, who owns the building at 385 S. Limestone. The announcement stated that the bar planned to add an underground “tap room” in the winter.

Bennett did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tuesday’s statement listed 380 S. Limestone as the new address for Two Keys Tavern, but that’s where a UK dormitory is on the other side of Limestone. Social media posts showed the new location as part of the former Pazzo’s Pizza Pub, now the Clubhouse electronic dance music nightclub. Although the release says renovations are nearly complete, the city shows no new permits for 385 S. Limestone.

But a block away, at the original location of Two Keys Tavern, 333 S. Limestone, the state has issued a liquor license for a separate “Two Keys Taphouse.”

Aaron Hill is listed as a certificate of occupancy applicant for Two Keys Taphouse at 333 S. Limestone, according to the city. The request is pending.

Hill said in an email that a new bar and grill will open soon at 333 S. Limestone and the establishment is different from Two Keys Tavern down the street.

Two Keys Tavern closed its location at 333 S. Limestone and filed for bankruptcy due to closures and lost revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Sam Mallon [email protected]

Much of the interior of the original Two Keys Tavern was gutted after the bar closed in 2020; Sethco LLC, which operated it at the time, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

In 2012, Sethco trademarked the name “Two Keys Tavern” to the original address.

The bankruptcy court allowed Sethco to give up the property, including the Two Keys Tavern sign, booths, tables, benches and a bar. Bennett said at the time that he planned to reopen Two Keys Tavern, possibly in a new location.

Bennett and his business partners opened the Clubhouse in the former Pazzo’s Pizza Pub, in late 2021.

At one point, former British soccer player Benny Snell expressed interest in helping bring back the legendary college sports bar. It is unclear if Snell is involved with either of the “Two Keys” entities.

This story was originally published July 20, 2022 1:33 p.m.

Janet Patton covers restaurants, bars, food and bourbon for the Herald-Leader. She is an award-winning business journalist who has also covered agriculture, gambling, horses and hemp.
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