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Phoenix Hill Tavern Neighbors Say They're Relieved the Nightclub is Closing

The shotgun houses on Rogers Street are just a few hundred yards from the back door of Phoenix Hill Tavern.

Charles Cecil has lived on the street for about 40 years. He's seen the storied tavern grow and expand and, just yesterday, close down for good.

"It's shocking," he said.

Ben Rogers, who owns both Phoenix Hill Tavern and Jim Porter's Good Time Emporium on Lexington Road, made the call to abruptly shutter both bars earlier this week.

In a statement posted online, he apologized and thanked those that helped the establishments survive all these years. Phoenix Hill first opened in 1976 and Jim Porters had been opened for about 25 years.

"I wish I could stay forever," Rogers said in the statement. "I have truly loved being in the bar business."

A number of people that live near the Phoenix Hill Tavern, however, seem to be happy he is finally leaving the bar business.

Some nights, Cecil said, the music was inescapable.

"You cover up your head with the pillow and you could still hear the music," he said.

And the crowds the tavern would draw, especially on Wednesday nights, were a torment on the neighbors, like Megan Schwizer.

She said a quick run to the grocery or gas station often meant losing a parking spot for the night. If a parking spot could be found, the morning often brought painful reminders that $1 beer nights never end soon enough.

"Our cars have been broken into numerous times," Schwizer said. "A girl was robbed at gunpoint on this porch."

Schwizer has lived at her home on Rogers Street for about five years. Lately, she's been looking to move away from the neighborhood, in part, she said, to get away from the Tavern.

"It's pretty horrible," she added. "They just didn't care about what was going on."

Cecil said he raised three sons at his home near the Tavern. He only thought about moving once, in the mid-2000s, when he heard gunshots right outside his front door.

He said he never went to the bar for the beer, but he did a stint as a bouncer in the late 1970s.

"It wasn't bad, I just got tired of it," he said.

And in 40 years he grew pretty tired of his tumultuous neighbor, too.

So, what do the neighbors want to see next for the site at the corner of Broadway and Baxter Avenue?

Eric Gallagher, who lives adjacent to Cecil on Rogers Street, said he's only lived near Phoenix Hill Tavern for about six months and, though it was loud, it didn't really bother him. He said he'd like to see a dog park.

Schwizer said she wants to see the current building razed and upscale apartments developed or a swank hotel with shops move in.

As for Cecil, his hopes are for something calmer, maybe condominiums or a homeless service.

"Anything but a tavern."

Phoenix Hill Tavern owner Rogers said in a statement the site is already under contract with a real estate developer, but he didn’t elaborate on its future.


Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.