Bloodstock agents Sean Feld and Chris Brothers have plenty of experience flipping horses in the sales ring, but this spring they’re trying their hand at flipping burgers as they venture into the restaurant business. Last month they took over Charlie Brown’s Restaurant and Lounge, a beloved dining staple in Lexington for decades.
Feld and Brothers are longstanding regulars at Charlie Brown’s. The cozy, pub-like spot has been in the hands of David Fuller for almost 40 years. When Fuller decided to retire this year, he passed it on to longtime manager and bartender Chris Behler and two of his favorite patrons.
“We had always joked that we would like to own it one day and last summer we were told that we possibly could,” Feld said.
“Dave reached out to us one day and said it was time to pass on the torch,” explained Brothers. “We were very honored to be given the opportunity. It’s a neighborhood institution.”
The restaurant first opened in 1973 and was originally called The Rusty Nail. Feld said that the upstairs was an upscale dining spot and the downstairs was a bar. A dumbwaiter would take food between floors. When Fuller purchased the restaurant with partner Larry Ellington, they concentrated to the first floor and leased out the top floor, where a Mexican restaurant called Papi’s is now located.
Now in its 50th year of operation, the atmosphere in the Euclid Avenue hangout is unlike anything else in town. Decades-old books line the walls, plenty of sofas are interspersed throughout the space and a fire roars in the corner. The pet-friendly patio out back is bustling in the summer.
“This place is special because all ages can come,” said Feld. “We’ve got the richest people in Lexington coming and we’ve got students that can’t rub two pennies together. It’s a hodgepodge of society and everyone has a good time.”
“It’s a major part of the community and with Dave on this for 40 years, every inch of this place screams him,” Brothers added. “We wanted to continue his legacy. I think that’s why Dave entrusted us with this place. We feel like the people in this community really respect the vibe and the atmosphere, so we don’t plan on changing anything. If you’re here for this long, if it’s not broke don’t fix it.”
Popular menu items include the Bacon Cheddar Burger, Emily’s Chicken Sandwich and the Roast Beef Sandwich.
“I love the Bacon Cheddar Burger,” said Brothers. “It’s one of the best burgers in town. I’m also a big fan of the Patty Melt and then we have soups that are made daily.”
Both Feld and Brothers plan to stay involved in racing.
Feld is the managing director of Climax Stallions and Feld Family Racing and is also the founder of At The Sale and Foal Adventure. He can now add line cook to his resume.
As for Brothers, who owns Xavier International Bloodstock and is the co-founder of StableDuel, he said he plans he stay at the front of the house.
Come celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Charlie Brown’s and eat this homemade Guinness Stew and Colcannon paired with a cheddar biscuit! pic.twitter.com/5zgvVjW3rH
— Charlie Browns (@CBsLexington) March 17, 2023
“The cooking part, I would probably eat too much of it,” he said with a laugh. “I got fired from my uncle’s restaurant when I was a kid for eating the bread coming out of the oven. So I’m better in the front, but the beauty of having two of your best friends as partners is we back each other up with everything we do and we have no problem getting dirty. We have no problem cooking or cleaning tables or anything. I like continually challenging myself and starting something new, so when this opportunity came around it was actually perfect because I was wanting a little change of pace.”
With the Keeneland race meet starting on Friday, the new restauranteurs said that they hope Charlie Brown’s will flourish as a hangout spot for the equine community in Lexington.
“It’s a great place to watch horse racing,” said Brothers. “You’ll always have someone at the bar that has a Form or an iPad out betting on some horse. And it’s all ages.”
“When I was cooking the other night, a bunch of my horse friends came in and took up about a quarter of the bar,” Feld said. “It’s a great spot to hang out whether you like horses or not. We’re excited with Keeneland coming up and hoping we’ll get a bunch of people before, during and after the races. We actually had a bunch of people here to watch the Dubai World Cup and hopefully down the line we’ll have a Royal Ascot party or two as well.”
Visit Charlie Brown’s Restaurant and Lounge’s website for the full menu and hours here.