LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The city of Louisville is moving forward with a new entertainment site from Churchill Downs set to be located in downtown, and local restaurants are looking forward to the business it could bring.

What You Need To Know

  • New casino-like entertainment venue to be opening in downtown Louisville

  • Restaurants near the new venue are thrilled about it generating a big pay out in the area

  • The venue will open with 500 historical horse racing machines according to Churchill Downs Inc.

  • Derby City Gaming Downtown is projected to open in 2023

Downtown businesses have been hit hard over the past two years. Between the pandemic and protests, it’s been challenging to bring people back in.

Parlour Pizza Assistant General Manager Breann Lechner said as they continue to navigate through challenges, they expect improvements ahead.

"Almost all set-in-stone expectations of what it is to be in the restaurant industry were just completely thrown out the window once COVID-19 [hit]," Lechner said.

An exterior rendering of Derby City Gaming Downtown to be open in 2023. (Churchill Downs Inc.)

Following the announcement from Churchill Downs on Thursday about a new betting facility, restaurants in the heart of downtown said it's welcome news as it fills them with new optimism.

Lechner is looking forward to visitors and tourists discovering her pizza pot, which sits a couple blocks from the new site.

"Any new business, especially one as a casino, will always bring more workers, will always bring more people, will always bring more popularity to Louisville," Lechner said.

The idea of a more prosperous future is also on the minds of some of Parlour’s servers, like Louisville native Kameron Mucker.

"One step, one little thing for change could be something huge like that casino could help with bringing in investments and bringing in people," Mucker said.

With the new entertainment site to be called Derby City Gaming Downtown, Mucker said this new project is a step in the right direction for growth in his hometown.

At the betting facility, which will feature 500 slots mimicking historical racing machines, the company is expected to create 350 construction jobs and 100 permanent positions after opening.

"[Downtown has] fallen on hard times. It's getting a little not the place for people to go like in their 20’s and their 30’s, and I feel like you have to bring that back. This is a city where the downtown is beautiful and you have to enjoy it," Mucker said.

As for an estimated economic impact, employees say it’s hard to come up with hard numbers, but the hope is to increase foot traffic.

Once the new gambling venue energizes Louisville’s nightlife, restaurant employees are optimistic their business will benefit.

"I’m always down for bringing more people and if that’s going to do it, I think it will," Lechner predicted.

Construction of Derby City Gaming Downtown is expected to begin later this year and be completed in 2023.