LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A piece of Louisville culinary history will be reinvented for a modern palate when the Al J. Schneider Company and The Galt House Hotel invite guests to Walker’s Exchange led by Chef de Cuisine Harold Baker. Located in the West Tower of the famed hotel, Walker’s Exchange pays homage to Louisville’s early days as a bustling port city and is named for a restaurant that opened in the same site nearly 200 years ago.
“Louisville has gained attention in recent years for its culinary scene, but its reputation as a destination for the best dining experience in the region dates back to the early 19th century when Louisville’s position on the river meant food from all over the country arrived on our shores,” said Scott Shoenberger, president and CEO of The Al J. Schneider Company. “The new Walker’s Exchange is about celebrating that rich history for today’s diner.”
The polished yet casual destination restaurant will boast a “Kentucky brasserie”-style menu of American and French dishes with a homegrown, locally sourced, Bluegrass-state twist. Menu items include pasta, poultry, steak, seafood, and flatbreads served fresh from a 6,800-pound brick oven in the heart of the restaurant. The seasonally driven menu will be complemented by a full-service beverage program including bourbon-forward cocktails, local beers on tap, wine, and more. Walker’s Exchange is slated to open in November, and will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, plus Sunday brunch buffet.
Behind the brick oven will be Chef de Cuisine Harold Baker, who brings with him more than 30 years of experience in kitchens around the country, including the four star-rated Gary’s on Spring here in Louisville. He also has previous history with The Galt House, having served as Chef de Cuisine at Flagship in the 90s.
“Chef Baker is a Louisville legend in his own right,” said Shoenberger. “Bringing his passion and energy back at The Galt House after all these years is really exciting for us, and I look forward to sharing his expertise with diners from Louisville and beyond.”
The new Walker’s Exchange harkens to some of the River City’s earliest days as an active port and trading center on the route down the Ohio to the Mississippi, and onward to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. William H. Walker opened Walker’s Coffee House in1834 on the current site of The Galt House Hotel, and by 1845 the popular gathering place became known as Walker’s Restaurant Hotel, advertising “all the substantials and delicacies of this and all other markets.”
In 1851, the restaurant moved to a newly constructed building on Third Street between Main and Market streets and took on the name Walker’s Exchange. Walker’s Exchange continued to thrive throughout the 19th century, as the Walker family expanded their mercantile and provisions business by becoming bourbon distributors and creating their own brand of bitters.