Two Keys Tavern takes down iconic sign

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The pandemic has hit many restaurants and bars hard and that includes Lexington staple, Two Keys Tavern.

After a historic run, the bar is closing up at least until it finds a new location. The popular bar was home to many University of Kentucky Wildcat celebrations over the years.

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Owner Seth Bennett announced the bar’s closure in early July when he filed for bankruptcy. He says the pandemic had a financial impact the bar couldn’t weather, and a two year legal battle with the landlord played a part as well.

Jamie Bates, an employee of Leonard Marshall LLC which owns the building, says he grew up going to Two Keys, and it’s hard letting go.

“If I want to meet anybody I’d say, you know where Two Keys is,” says Bates. “They’d say, ‘Yes, I do.’ I’d say, ‘Well, I’ll meet you there.’ You never had to tell the address. It was the world famous. I hate to see it go, but I have a lot of good memories. I really do. And it goes on for generations.”

However, Bates says he’s worried about what the pandemic can mean for the future.

“With the COVID and everything, I can see a lot of restaurants going down and that’s truly awful for Kentucky or Lexington,” Bates says. “It really is. And people are going to suffer through this.”

Bennett says the sign will be kept in a safe place until a new location is found.