The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

Legendary Eats owners to open new bar and restaurant in Lexington

Bill and Jessica Harden hope to have “Hardens” open by early-to-mid November
Luke Fountain
The outside of the new bar and restaurant. The bottom floor will be home to Hardens, while the top floor will be residential.

The owners of Legendary Eats are opening a new upscale bar and restaurant across the street from Washington and Lee’s campus. 

Bill and Jessica Harden hope to have Hardens open by early-to-mid November, which will be housed in the former University Cleaners building. 

Bill Harden was the longtime bartender at Taps, a popular bar and restaurant in town. He said he hopes to bring many of his famed Taps cocktails back to Hardens. 

Harden said he wants customers to feel like they’re visiting a friend when they come to Hardens. 

“I wanted everyone to say, hey, we’re going to go see the Hardens. Because that’s basically the idea, that Jess or I will be there at all times, or both of us,” he said. 

The pair currently run Legendary Eats full-time. They opened the spot in 2020. But now, they will have to split their time between that daytime restaurant and Hardens. 

The new restaurant will serve a varied menu, including steak, burgers, salads and pasta, and will be open until at least 11 p.m, Harden said.

He said that they hope to give students and residents another nightlife option. 

“We want to appeal to everybody. I think we’re definitely looking toward W&L students and W&L parents especially, given we’re across the street from Washington and Lee,” he said. 

Manuela Zapata, ’24, said she would definitely be interested in trying out Hardens. 

“Since becoming 21, the options in terms of nightlife in town are kind of limited,” she said.

Rockbridge County resident Bill Russell said he’d be happy to see another restaurant option in town.

“There are good bars and restaurants here, but there are not a lot,” he said.

The Southern Inn closed this summer after nine decades of service. The popular bar and restaurant was a staple in the Lexington community. 

Harden doesn’t think the new restaurant will fill the void that Southern Inn left. But, he said that Hardens will emulate some of its aspects.   

“We will have a really large bar—sitting about 14—plus a little bit of standing room on the bar, which will hopefully  add to the communal aspect that the bar used to provide at Southern Inn,” he said. 

Harden said he is nervous about one thing—finding staff in a tight labor market. 

“We’re willing to pay really good money, because it is a concern,” he said. 

Construction is still underway at Hardens. The building will look quite different next month, when students and residents come to try out the new spot. 

This story originally aired on the Rockbridge Report. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Jenny Hellwig, Editor-in-Chief

Comments (0)

All The Ring-tum Phi Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *