Waterfront Restaurant breaks loose, floats down river

View of the waterfront earlier Friday
View of the waterfront earlier Friday
Owner Jeff Ruby get on a towboat to check out the damage
Owner Jeff Ruby get on a towboat to check out the damage

COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - After coming loose from its moorings on Friday night, Jeff Ruby's Waterfront Restaurant came to a stop just to the east of the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge. Now crews have moved it upriver. But the question now is, will it reopen after floating into the Ohio River?

Covington Fire Department Capt. Chris Kiely said that Jeff Ruby's Waterfront restaurant drifted down river about 85 yards on Friday night to the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge with customers and staff on board, but that a rear mooring line held firm and authorities were able to rig ladders to rescue dinner patrons and others aboard.

Restaurant owner Jeff Ruby disputed that on Sunday, saying the restaurant drifted 85 feet, not 85 yards. Ruby also told FOX19 he's considering several options fort the landmark restaurant, including closing it permanently.

Meanwhile, general manager Charlie Bledsoe says he's very upset about the whole event. "I want to apologize to all those guests, I've called a lot of them personally," Bledsoe told FOX19 exclusively. "Initially, the first pop or bang, I really thought that we got hit by a barge. And then, I was walking to see exactly what was taking place and then I felt a little bit like an earthquake, and so I went running for the front doors to make sure nobody was on the ramps."

Cris Collinsworth, former Bengals player and current NFL commentator and Jack Cassidy, CEO of Cincinnati Bell were patrons of the restaurant at the time.

The Associated Press is reporting that 83 people were safely rescued, with no injuries reported.

People from around the Tri-State drove by the Waterfront over the weekend to catch a glimpse of the new location and question whether or not the restaurant should have been open for business.

"They shouldn't have been operating last night. They put people in danger, I mean it could have been a lot worse," said Megan Hurst from Anderson.

But the Waterfront says there were no indications it should have closed.

"We've opened in many years with higher flooding and there was no sign of any of this of any kind there was nothing indicating that we shouldn't be open," said Bawe Shinholster, food and beverage director for the Waterfront.

"The engineer that designed and build these extension ramps was here [Friday] actually checking them out before we decided to open," said owner Jeff Ruby.

Marine inspectors will examine the barge to see if there is any damage.

FOX19 will update this story as more information becomes available.

Copyright 2011 by FOX19.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.