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Upscale Tony's Steakhouse coming to The Hub

Bowling Green’s upscale The Hub development on Lovers Lane is adding an upscale restaurant.

Tony’s, a steak-and-seafood eatery with locations in Cincinnati, Lexington and Indianapolis, will move into the 6,000-square-foot restaurant space in the Embassy Suites hotel now being built as The Hub’s centerpiece.

The restaurant, which has a menu that includes a $78 porterhouse steak and a $49 Chilean sea bass, is viewed by The Hub developer David Chandler as the perfect addition to a 103-acre community that will eventually include more than 800 high-end apartments along with commercial parcels and other amenities.

“This is just a fantastic addition to The Hub, to Embassy Suites and to the city of Bowling Green,” Chandler said. “It’ll certainly be an upper-end restaurant, but it will still be affordable.”

Tony’s was started in 2010 in Cincinnati by Tony Ricci, an Italian immigrant who opened the Lexington location in 2015 and the Indianapolis site in 2018.

Chandler said Tony’s is a brand already familiar to many in Bowling Green.

“He (Ricci) has a huge following,” Chandler said. “A lot of people from Bowling Green have eaten at his restaurant that is in downtown Lexington near Rupp Arena.”

Although it is the same brand and will have many of the same menu options as the other three locations, the Bowling Green Tony’s will come with some differences.

Being located in a hotel, it will handle the banquet business for the five-story, 198-room hotel that will include three conference rooms and a 160-seat banquet room.

Tony’s will also handle the breakfast buffet business at Embassy Suites.

“This will be our first location in a hotel,” Ricci said. “It’s a challenge, but at the same time it’s an opportunity. We’re familiar with how to do room service and banquets. As for breakfast, I feel like we have all the pieces in place to do that.”

Bowling Green-area steak lovers won’t have to wait long to sample Tony’s. Chandler said the Embassy Suites should be open in the spring of 2022, and Ricci said the restaurant should open shortly after the hotel.

“We’ll try to have the breakfast buffet ready when the hotel opens,” Ricci said.

Tony’s should be open to the public shortly after the hotel opens, but Ricci said it will be limited to dinner at first.

“When I feel that our dinner routine is ready, we’ll introduce our lunch menu,” he said.

Ricci said that between indoor seating and an outdoor patio, his Bowling Green location should be able to seat 200 to 220 people. He expects to employ 50 to 70 people.

The restaurateur said Chandler and his partners convinced him that the fast-growing Bowling Green area was the right spot for his fourth Tony’s location.

“You have a great group of people who believe in Bowling Green,” Ricci said. “They convinced me that this area is ready to support something like this.”

Ricci said Tony’s will give residents of Bowling Green and its surrounding counties access to fine dining without driving to Nashville or Louisville.

“My team is excited about this venture,” Ricci said. “I believe we can have a major impact on the Bowling Green area.”

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

Eight new miles of passageways found in Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave National Park commemorated the National Day of Service and its longtime partnership with the Cave Research Foundation on Saturday by announcing the cave system is now officially eight miles longer.

The additional mileage was mapped and documented through survey work completed by the CRF. The discovery brings the official length of the world’s longest cave to 420 miles.

Jessica Cooper, the park’s acting public information officer, said the CRF has worked to map the system every year.

Cooper said a description of the new passageways could not be provided as of Monday afternoon.

“It’s very important to know as much about the resource as we can in order to protect it for future generations,” she said. “The more we understand about the cave, the more equipped and prepared we are to ensure the preservation of those resources. We are very thankful for our volunteer partnerships and organizations.”

The CRF is a local nonprofit group founded in 1957. CRF members spend hours crawling, climbing and rappelling through cave passageways, following leads through sometimes very tight openings to document and map the cave.

Comprised exclusively of volunteers, the group has assisted the park with cave survey work for more than 60 years and has provided thousands of hours of volunteer work.

“The Cave Research Foundation is fundamentally the reason that Mammoth Cave is recognized as the world’s longest cave,” Cave Resource Management Specialist Dr. Rick Toomey said in a statement. “Without CRF exploration and mapping, Mammoth Cave would potentially still be a 44-mile-long cave system.”

Mammoth Cave received its official designation as the world’s longest cave system in 1969 with 65 miles of surveyed passageways.

The connection between the Mammoth Cave system and the Flint Ridge system was discovered in 1972 by CRF cavers who traveled underground for more than 14 hours.

This connection would bring the total mileage of the Mammoth Cave system to 144 miles.

In the 49 years since this connection was made, continued assistance from the CRF has led to discovered connections between several smaller caves like Proctor Cave, Roppel Cave and Morrison Cave and the larger Mammoth Cave system, all contributing to the current total surveyed length of 420 miles.

Cooper said the park received a large reaction across social media over the weekend when park officials posted about the discovery.

“People are always curious how much cave is really beneath their feet,” Cooper added. “We have had a really good response on Facebook from around the world – not just from this area. With this discovery, it’s one way for us to reach another generation of cave enthusiasts and national park enthusiasts. Social media is a way to attract younger people to national parks, and this discovery will attract those people in the future.”

A variety of opportunities to volunteer for the National Park Service exists for interested parties.

While some volunteer positions require certain skills or abilities, others require no specialized training. For more information about the Volunteer-In-Park program, visit www.nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteer.htm.

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.

BG man arraigned in murder case

A man accused in the fatal shooting of a man found in a yard on Glen Lily Road was arraigned Monday.

Eder Exequiel Martinez-Pineda, 30, of Bowling Green, appeared in Warren Circuit Court to be arraigned on charges of murder and tampering with physical evidence.

Martinez-Pineda is charged in the death of Gregorio Alberto Jimenez, who was found June 3 with multiple gunshot wounds in the 700 block of Glen Lily Road.

Martinez-Pineda’s attorney, Kevin Croslin, entered a not guilty plea on his client’s behalf, and Warren Circuit Judge Steve Wilson set a pretrial conference for Nov. 16.

Croslin said the Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has turned over a large amount of discovery evidence in the case. He will need some time to go over the material with Martinez-Pineda.

“The commonwealth has provided quite a bit of discovery and it’s quite voluminous,” Croslin said.

Martinez-Pineda, Jayro Pineda and Brittany Miller were indicted by a Warren County grand jury in Jimenez’s death.

The Bowling Green Police Department was called to the scene June 3 after two people walking through the neighborhood found Jimenez lying in the yard outside someone’s residence on Glen Lily Road.

The man who lived on the property where Jimenez was found told police he heard gunshots earlier that night and saw a black SUV speed away when he looked out the window, according to prior testimony at a preliminary hearing in Warren District Court.

A neighbor reported seeing a black Chevrolet Suburban drive past his house less than a minute before he heard gunshots.

The next day, BGPD Officer Susana Aguilar was shown a picture of Jimenez and recognized him from responding to a call the previous day at a home on Collegeview Drive.

“Jimenez had been there to try and fight a subject who lived at that house,” BGPD Detective David Grimsley testified at the preliminary hearing.

City police found a black 2015 Chevrolet Suburban parked at the Collegeview Drive home and learned it was registered to Jayro Pineda.

When Pineda arrived at the address moments later, police questioned him and he said he had been at a restaurant with his family the previous night.

Pineda declined to speak further when asked by police whether his Suburban may have been involved in the shooting, according to Grimsley’s testimony.

City police were later contacted by Martinez-Pineda’s ex-wife, who reported that he had called her and confessed to shooting Jimenez.

The ex-wife made a recorded phone call from BGPD headquarters to Martinez-Pineda, and he said during the call that he had given the gun used in the shooting to his brother, Grimsley testified.

On June 7, Martinez-Pineda called his ex-wife and confessed in detail to killing Jimenez, describing how he was driving with his girlfriend and father when his girlfriend, Brittany Miller, pointed out Jimenez on Glen Lily Road and turned around to confront him, according to the detective.

“(Martinez-Pineda) app-roached the victim, who had challenged him to a fight, and during the altercation shot (Martinez-Pineda) multiple times,” Grimsley said.

Jayro Pineda was later arrested on a charge of tampering with physical evidence. Miller was arrested on a charge of first-degree hindering prosecution or apprehension.

– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.

President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the National Interagency Fire Center, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Boise, Idaho.

WKU names first lotto winners in vaccine incentive program

Western Kentucky University held the first of several lottery drawings for students and staff who’ve received the coronavirus vaccine, doling out scholarships and cash prizes to winners.

Each week through the beginning of October, WKU will select 26 vaccinated employees and 40 vaccinated students. Prizes include full-tuition scholarships, iPads and, for staff, $1,000 bonus checks.

WKU drew the first batch of winners last week, and they had 72 hours to verify their vaccination status with the university.

“We’re glad to be able to reward people for doing the right thing,” WKU spokesman Jace Lux said, encouraging students and staff to get vaccinated and report their status via an online notification form.

“The reporting form also gives our COVID-19 Task Force a better idea of the percentage of our campus that is vaccinated. We know that the vaccine is the best way to prevent the spread of the virus and to prevent serious illness if contracted, and having reliable data about WKU’s overall vaccination status helps guide our Task Force as it makes decisions to keep all of us safe,” he said in a WKU news release.

As a matter of policy, WKU hasn’t required students and staff to get vaccinated, instead “strongly encouraging” them.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced a plan to require staff vaccinations at large employers, which Lux said WKU is reviewing.

“The WKU COVID-19 Task Force is working to gather additional information about President Biden’s recent announcement regarding vaccination and testing for employers with more than 100 employees. The Task Force will communicate changes to WKU’s current vaccine and testing protocols as soon as federal agencies provide additional guidance. Vaccines are readily available in the community and at the Graves Gilbert Clinic on campus. We continue to encourage faculty, staff and students to get vaccinated,” Lux said.

Initial student winners of the vaccine incentive program include Laurel Beckley and Nena Howard. WKU also selected two staff winners: Andria Henry and professor Ritchie Taylor.

Beckley, of Bowling Green, is a pre-nursing transfer student in her first semester at WKU. She was the first individual selected to receive a full-tuition scholarship through the drawing.

“I couldn’t believe that my first semester at Western was going to start with so much support,” she said.

Beckley stressed the importance of providing WKU with information about vaccination status: “Reporting your status is always helpful. It’s so easy to do, and it gives us a better idea of where we are.”

Howard, a sophomore interior design and fashion merchandising major from Bowling Green, was another one of the first student winners selected in the initial drawing, according to the release.

“I got vaccinated because my parents are high risk and I live at home,” she said. “I think it’s a win-win for everybody to get vaccinated so that we can return back to normal,”

She won a $500 book scholarship from the WKU Store.

Henry, an office associate in the Gordon Ford College of Business, was among the WKU employees whose names were drawn last week. She won a $1,000 prize and said she’s pleased the university is encouraging others to become vaccinated.

“I’m a pretty healthy person generally, and I just wanted to help protect those around me,” she said.

Taylor, a public health professor, also received a $1,000 prize.

Taylor said he was surprised his name was drawn. “I was about to delete it, and I looked and the email was from someone at WKU so I realized this might be real.”

He also shared his reasons for being vaccinated. “I chose to be vaccinated because it’s the first line and best line of defense. I think it’s really important that other people are protected,” he said.

Prize drawings will take place each Friday for the next four weeks. To be eligible, an individual must have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit bgdailynews.com.