LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse, a long time tourist destination on Fourth Street Live!, is closing its doors after a difficult year of COVID-19 restrictions and destructive protests.
In a statement the company said it was leaving to “maintain focus on our transformational agenda in Clermont,” the Bullitt County location of $60 million distilleries and visitor center currently under construction.
The statement said, “we have made the decision not to renew our lease at the Urban Stillhouse in downtown Louisville.”
Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse opened in 2015 on Fourth Street Live! and was celebrated as Louisville’s gateway to bourbon country.
Five years later, the departure of the Jim Beam brand from the city’s official downtown party spot comes at a low point for bars and tourists.
The official start of the Bourbon Trail, just blocks away at the Frazier History Museum, continues to attract visitors seeking a bourbon experience, suggesting Bourbonism is still alive and well.
“More than half of the people that are still coming are regional travelers and they’re coming for bourbon tourism,” Frazier History Museum President Andy Treinen said. “And interestingly our tastings are actually up a great deal over the year before.”
A half dozen street-level businesses at Fourth Street Live! still have wooden boards covering windows. But tourism officials say, it’s a matter of when, not if visitors will again fill the near-empty street.
The imminent arrival of a vaccine for COVID-19 already has convention planners looking at Louisville and making decisions.
“We’re seeing that loosen up in that second quarter, June to July of 2021,” Louisville Tourism President Karen Williams said, “where they have more comfort than they currently do at this time.”
The company statement indicated this is not a case of Jim Beam saying goodbye to Louisville.
“We will maintain our offices on Fourth Street Live,” the statement said, “and look forward to bringing a new consumer experience to Louisville that is in line with what we are building at our iconic homeplace.”