Since working from a young age under his father, Butch Wainscott—longtime owner of Northern Kentucky staples the Greyhound Tavern and the Tousey House Tavern—and then for 10 years with his brother-in-law at Lexington’s Merrick Inn, Brad Wainscott has never been short of restaurant experience.
He’d always wanted to open his own restaurant, but the biggest obstacle he would need to overcome was himself. He’s been clean and sober for over a year after struggling with alcoholism. With the support of his family, he was ready to make the changes he needed to finally realize his dream and start a legacy of his own.
He was first inspired when Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Chanel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, visited his father’s farm filming an episode of the show. Like Brad, Zimmern had also battled addiction. “That really helped us feel like we could do this,” he says.
With that and his father’s blessing, Brad and his wife Michelle set out on the path to create Libby’s Southern Comfort. Opening behind Braxton Brewing in Covington’s Duveneck Square on January 25, Libby’s has a polished-yet-rustic feel with high ceilings, a sprawling bar made from a 25-foot black walnut tree, and an outdoor patio that will be perfect for sipping bourbon slushies on warm summer days.
The menu is a Kentucky-Charleston fusion, with half-shell oysters, warm goetta hush puppies, and of course, fried chicken. “[Fried chicken] is a big part of how I was brought up in the restaurant business,” says Brad, referring to the several awards his family has won for the classic Southern dish.
“We’re doing it with a completely different recipe than the other restaurants,” he says about their buttermilk-soaked birds—but don’t worry, it’s got his dad’s approval.
The bar offers a selection of vintage bourbons dating back to the 1950s, bourbon slushies made with Carolina Cheerwine, and frosé slushies made with 8th Street rosé, as well as a variety of local and domestic beers.
The restaurant is named after Brad and Michelle’s youngest child, Libby, who is named after the late mother of Brad’s brother-in-law. “[Libby Murray] was the original owner of the Merrick Inn,” he says. “She ran a restaurant like I’ve never seen.”
The restaurant’s logo shows their daughter Libby standing with the family’s black lab. Their other two children, Will and Charlie, have menu items named after them.
While it’s the latest in a long list of Wainscott-run Cincinnati restaurants, it’s the first endeavor for Brad and his family. “We just wanted a place where people could come drink Miller High Life, slam fried chicken, and eat oysters—real casual,” Brad says.