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More Than a Liquor Store Capital Cellars: Written by Patti Nickell

Luke Patrick walks into Capital Cellars wearing a peach-colored sweatshirt with the Nike logo “Just Do It!”  You might say that Luke took that advice seriously a year-and-a-half ago when he and two partners purchased the shop.

Capital Cellars had been part of the downtown Frankfort scene for 16 years and had a loyal following when the original owner decided it was time to move on.  Patrick, whose prior career had been in real estate development, knew a good thing when he saw it.

“For a long time, I had been wanting to open some kind of business on the train tracks along Broadway,” he says, adding that he had also been watching the steady growth of bourbon, so a store offering both seemed a natural choice.

Under Patrick’s ownership, Capital Cellars has become much more than a liquor store.  It is Frankfort’s only establishment that combines a wine, bourbon, beer and spirits store; a food outlet and bar, and a comfortable spot for locals and visitors to stop in, sit awhile and read a newspaper or meet up with friends.

Far from wondering just when they are going to leave, Patrick insists, “I want this to be a place where people come and hang out.”

On this day, the hangers-out included a few who were sitting at the bar tasting bourbons from Capital Cellar’s curated collection which stresses those which can’t be found everywhere, and where the stars are bourbons from Kentucky.

“We offer flights of bourbon where the customer can choose up to four from anything we have on the menu,” says Patrick.

To keep regulars returning, he says the selection rotates every month-and-a-half to two months.

Bourbon may be the biggest draw at Capital Cellars, but Patrick allows that wine accounts for 70 percent of his inventory, “although that may have to do with the size of the cases they come in,” he says, noting that bourbon comes six bottles to a case, while wine comes 12 bottles per case.

When he bought the store, Patrick says it was very wine-focused, with locals coming in regularly looking for a bottle to serve with dinner or for a special occasion.  To keep the wine-lovers happy, Capital Cellars has tastings every Thursday and Friday from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Patrick admits to not properly appreciating wine until he bought Capital Cellars, but says “since then, I’ve learned to like it, and have even converted some friends into wine drinkers.”

By contrast, even though the shop’s focus has shifted to bourbon, organized bourbon tastings usually occur once a month, and showcase startup bourbons, or as Patrick says, “those we particularly like.”

Capital Cellars also offers beer and a full cocktail menu, but Patrick says they don’t get that many requests for either.

“Ninety-five percent of our customers want a glass of wine or a neat bourbon,” he says.

Patrick is ready to satisfy any request, as he is the only person in Frankfort to hold a license for both selling and serving alcohol.

“In fact, I think there are only seven or eight of us in the whole state,” he says.

He is branching out in other ways as well.  While Capital Cellars does not offer restaurant food, it does offer a small menu of snack items which can be paired with a beverage and enjoyed in the cozy nook adjacent to the shop.

And occasionally, they will stage small concerts – “usually just one or two musicians,” says Patrick.  “They are especially popular in the summer and fall when up to 20 percent of those visiting the shop are tourists.”

Patrick really likes tourists, but he loves locals and wants them to feel right at home at Capital Cellars.

“Even after almost two years, we’re still a bit of a hidden gem, and many locals are surprised when they come in for the first time,” he says.

But whom does he love most?

“We really like people who really like bourbon.”