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Ruby may rebuild Waterfront restaurant on land

COVINGTON, Ky. (Angenette Levy) -- Jeff Ruby's Waterfront Restaurant may reopen but it won't float on the Ohio River.

Ruby has decided it's too expensive and unsafe to operate a floating restaurant and may build a new restaurant on the Covington Landing.

"It's sexy to dine on a floating restaurant but it's not safe sex. It's been, enough is enough I don't want to take any more chances," Ruby said Thursday.

The Waterfront has been a part of Ruby's life since 1986. But life on the Ohio River was rough on the barge. Debris and an iceberg hit it. In 2011, the barge broke free from its moorings with people on board.  Ruby planned to reopen on the water but now he says he's ruled out the possibility.

When asked what it will take to rebuild The Waterfront on land Ruby answered:  "convincing."
"We'll probably need new partners. The place, we've already got it designed what it would be. It would be spectacular. It would be better views that ever before," Ruby said.
The city of Covington had already agreed to loan Ruby $1.5 million to reopen The Waterfront. That agreement would apply to a restaurant built on the landing. Ruby would pay back the loan through a percentage of gross revenues and rent on the landing. Covington City Manager Larry Klein said Ruby has not asked for more assistance from the city.

"We love Jeff Ruby. We love The Waterfront restaurant. We've been a partner from day one and we intend to be a strong partner and we'll help in identifying other partners if that's what's needed," Klein said.

A new Ruby restaurant would be a good addition to Covington's restaurants as the city works to develop the riverfront. Plans are in the works for Riverfront Commons, which would include a multi-use path from Ludlow to Ft. Thomas. 

"We're excited. It's good timing with his restaurant coming back to Covington," Klein said.

Meanwhile, Ruby said the decision to build a new restaurant will come down to cost. A new restaurant would have to be built on stilts or piers that would allow the restaurant to rise when the river floods. He's working with a developer and engineers on plans.

"We gotta put the pencil to it and see what it will cost to build it there," Ruby said. He added, "I gotta say goodbye to The Waterfront and that's a little sad...we served everyone from Michael Jordan to the King of Jordan there."

The Waterfront barge will be scrapped. Items inside it will be used in the new restaurant if it's built.

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