‘Malicious’ actions prompt closure of beloved NKY bar, owner says

Bourbon Haus 1841 is shuttering allegedly due to a feud with the bar next door.
Bourbon Haus 1841 announced its closure earlier this month via Facebook.
Bourbon Haus 1841 announced its closure earlier this month via Facebook.(The Enquirer/Provided)
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 6:03 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (Enquirer) - A beloved bourbon bar is closing its doors, according to our media partners at the Enquirer.

Bourbon Haus 1841, located at 522 Main St. in Covington, announced its closure earlier this month via Facebook. The bar was previously featured on the B-Line, Northern Kentucky’s Bourbon trail, and named one of America’s best bourbon bars by Bourbon Magazine.

“It is with a very heavy heart that we share the news that Bourbon Haus will permanently close. We have operated successfully for the past six years due to your loyalty and patronage,” co-owner Dave Brumfield wrote.

Brumfield cited a “series of malicious occurrences” by Chris Estanos, the owner of neighboring bar Paddy’s on Main, as a reason for the closure.

“We had operated peacefully in the community for the five prior years, but this guy insisted on putting us out of business from the day he showed up,” Brumfield wrote.

Dave and his wife Tammy, also an owner of Bourbon Haus 1841, sought to purchase the space from the building’s landlord, Kim Wolf, according to the post. But Dave alleged that Estanos, who also submitted a bid to purchase the space, thwarted the plans. Dave says he tried to contact Wolf about the purchase offer several times but has yet to hear back from her or her team.

“When she informed us about the new offer from Paddy’s on Main, she said that she would give us first right of refusal to purchase the property,” he explained. “We promptly gave her a formal purchase offer and matched the price so that we could save our own business. Still, to this date, Kim Wolf (JKB Properties) has not responded to our offer.”

Estanos denied the allegations and said his decision to purchase the location was not an attempt to steal the Brumfields’ business. He said he has no plans of running a bourbon bar in the space.

“I’m not a bad guy,” Estanos said. “I’ve got these people ... that just think that I’ve come in here and just ripped these folks business out of their hand. It just didn’t happen this way.”

A legal battle for the Bourbon Haus 1841 space

The Enquirer reached out to Wolf, who declined to comment due to the ongoing court case between her and the Bourbon Haus 1841 owners, which began in March 2022.

According to court records, the next hearing is Tuesday.

Court documents state that Bourbon Haus 1841 entered a lease with JKB properties on Nov. 15, 2016. The original lease term was for Jan. 15, 2017 to Jan. 15, 2018. Court records also state that if the bar owners remained in possession of the premises, the parties would continue with a month-to-month lease agreement totaling a payment of $1,500 per month.

During this month-to-month agreement, the Brumfields spent roughly $160,000 on improvements and an additional $32,000 on repairs to the property, with the understanding that their contributions would grant them equitable ownership in the property, court records indicate.

In January of 2022, after accepting a rent check, Wolf notified the tenants that they would need to vacate the premises due to her decision to sell the space.

By accepting the rent payment, the Brumfields believed that both parties agreed to a one-year lease extension. But according to court documents, JKB Properties contends that the Bourbon Haus 1841 owners did not follow the instructions for the extension as outlined in the lease agreement.

Due to the lawsuit, Bourbon Haus 1841 currently does not have a lease, preventing the establishment from renewing its liquor license, Dave posted. Ricki Gardenhire, public information officer for the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet, confirmed that Bourbon Haus 1841′s liquor license has not been renewed.

The business may file an appeal to the state, Gardenhire said. But the owners chose to close the bar, stating on Facebook that “the damage was done.”

“This was our dream, our investment, our livelihood – torn apart and stolen from us due to malicious and hateful desires. We want to tell our story because it’s not easy opening a small business, but we did it, and we were successful,” Dave said.

What’s next for the space and Bourbon Haus 1841?

After the court case is resolved and the sale is finalized, Estanos plans to convert the area into a tequila bar and cigar lounge. He said he hopes to open by May.

Tammy said Bourbon Haus 1841 has received offers from multiple cities to relocate their business to those communities. She said the future of the bar is still being determined, but they’re exploring all options.

“They know how successful we are. They know how much business we bring in from out of state, and they’re offering us incentives to move to their locations,” she said.

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