The old warehouse building comes back to life with multiple new concepts by Cole Arimes.
Located on the corner of Walton and National, one of Lexington’s newest restaurants is now open and it definitely stands to impress. Named after the John G. Epping bottling plant, Epping's on Eastside is the home to several new creative concepts from chef Cole Arimes and his uncle Richard Turnbull, co-owners of Coles 735 Main. Offering what Arimes describes as a “sandwich centric” menu and “expansion of Cole’s 735 Main bar bites” the 11,000 square foot building is open and airy as you walk into a bright space greeted by the aroma of fresh baked goods and a modern coffee bar serving up Nate’s Coffee. As you travel into the main dining space you’ll find a gorgeous, show-stopping 30 seat bar surrounded by a clean, upscale yet insanely comfortable TV free dining room. Looking up, you’re reminded that you are indeed in a warehouse building. “It really is a neat building with a lot of natural light,” Arimes said. “We’ve let the building speak for itself and didn’t have to do a whole lot to it,” Arimes mentions.
A Lexington native who spent 18 years perfecting his craft in Cincinnati, Cole is excited to be opening a location that he’s had his eye on for the last two years. “It is neat to be back in my old stomping grounds. “This neighborhood means a lot to me. I have a big vision for this warehouse block, I want this place to become a neighborhood spot” says Arimes.
The coffee shop and bakery are also home to the smaller concept, Poppy and Olive, named after Arimes children. “It’s what we called both of our children when we were expecting,” he said. “My daughter was Olive and my son was Poppy. We kept their genders a surprise so it’s a fun little homage to them with the name.” His vision for the space is to create a restaurant that kids will enjoy but their parents can also
feel relaxed and comfortable bringing the whole family along to dine out effortlessly in a judgment-free zone. With a similar menu to Epping’s, Poppy and Olive focuses on different steps of service such as the craft basket that arrives at the table to keep the little ones occupied while the parents look the menu over in peace. Cole emphasizes attention to detail such as the coloring pads designed seasonally by Cricket Press, the homemade play dough and the family time card designed to engage the entire family with fun questions. With additional kid-friendly menu items such as the Charfruterie Board (a creative combination of grapes, strawberries, bananas, apples, and a honey yogurt dipping sauce) and entrees such as from sweet potato gnocchi and grilled chicken fingers, Arimes set out to create dishes that kids would love and the parents could feel good about.
As you wander into the bar area you find TVs and a large community table that Cole envisions new friends meeting up to watch the big game or neighbors gathering for a drink and great meal shared together.
The menu at Epping’s, which focuses on Cole’s passion for house-cured meats, supporting the regions diverse farming and food community and keeping a local-first mindset as they create each dish. Cole recommends first, cozying up to the bar and snagging an order of the butternut squash hummus, a creamy puree of sweet squash topped with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, fresh orange, fresno chili, herbs, and lavash for dipping paired alongside his favorite cocktail on the menu, the Eastsider, a combination of house-infused vanilla vodka, house- blended passion fruit liqueur, passion fruit puree, lime juice and lemon-lime soda.
For dinner, he suggests the Pastrami Reuben made from house- cured and smoked beef pastrami, sauerkraut made in house, melty gruyere cheese and perhaps the best 1000 Island dressing you’ll ever taste all piled atop house-made rye bread - which Arimes says “is just to keep your hands clean” and served alongside chips.
The impressive dessert menu created by pastry chef, Laura Clay, is also not to be missed. With gluten-free and vegan options available including her super popular gluten-free brownie and kid favorite, the homemade no-added-sugar pop tarts.
Arimes notes that although the food is his passion and what brings guests through the door it’s the service that truly sets them apart from any other restaurant here in town. “Our guests will have the absolute best possible service so no matter what happens in the kitchen, great service can elevate and even save any food”. “My team is excited to see every guest that comes through that door, we have no VIP policies, we want everyone to feel comfortable, have a great time and leave looking forward to coming back to visit us again,” says Arimes.
Q+A with Cole Arimes
Kale cooked down with onion, bacon, pork stock and bits of meat. It has to be spicy with lemon on it and salt, lots of salt.
What made you fall in love with food?
I like to eat - haha. My mom is a great cook and both of my grandmothers were also excellent cooks.
How do you stay inspired?
I love trying new things - lately, it’s been fermentation and long cures. The daily grind of the menu can wear you out so I have to explore. I also love dining out. The best meal I have ever had was Morisketta (I learned it from a dishwasher) which is basically braised spare ribs in a spicy tomato sauce over rice and topped with queso fresco - wow!
When you're not working are you cooking or grabbing carryout?
Carry out ... most likely you’ll find me at A&W Burgers.
“The East Sider “ Our bar program does house-made infusions and bitters. We take local cherries and turn them into house-made maraschino cherries and we also do our own homemade syrups.
Favorite dish from your childhood?
My mom would kill me but Spanakopita at my Yia Yia’s - my Greek grandmother on dad’s side of the family.
A piece of advice for someone who dreams of pursuing a career in food:
Don’t do it - haha! You have to love what you do if you don’t love it don’t do it. Get into a good restaurant and learn, the experience is the best teacher.