Former Warren County Sheriff Jerry “Peanuts” Gaines remembers it as a “lively place.”
Former Bowling Green Mayor Charles Hardcastle recalls it was THE place to get the “pulse of the community.”
It will soon be reduced to rubble, erasing the last physical evidence of a structure that was once the regular meeting place for prominent local politicians and power brokers.
The Murray’s Restaurant building at 1313 U.S. 31-W By-Pass, vacant and deteriorating for more than a decade, will soon be demolished.
Greg Gary Trucking has a $12,000 demolition permit for the building that dates to the 1940s and will level it soon.
“It was just past financial repair,” Greg Gary said. “It’s such an old building that they decided to take it down.”
Gary and Jerry Shelton, a part-owner of the building, said there are no immediate plans for the property.
“It was just time for it to go,” said Shelton, managing partner of the Shelton CPAs accounting firm and manager of the OGW Investments LLC that is listed in Warren County property records along with Joe Travelstead as owners of the property.
For those new to Bowling Green, seeing the building turned into debris may be seen as a needed step in the progress of a fast-growing city.
The squat, rectangular structure, after all, had become little more than an eyesore and a hangout for the homeless in recent years.
But for those who frequented Murray’s in its heyday, the demolition of the building amounts to destruction of a bit of Bowling Green history.
Back before the proliferation of restaurants along the bypass and Scottsville Road, Murray’s was a regular stop for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Through ownership changes, the one constant was that Murray’s was a bit like the fictional Rick’s Café Americain in the movie “Casablanca” – everybody went there.
“It was a happening place at one time,” said Jody Richards, who served in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1976 through 2019 and was House speaker for 14 years. “Judge-Executive (Basil) Griffin would always go there to drink coffee, and others joined him to talk about city, county, state and national politics and activities.”
Gaines, whose 32-year tenure as Warren County sheriff ended in 2019, recalls Murray’s as a place where politicians from “all over the state” would come.
“Everybody used to meet at Murray’s,” Gaines said. “Governor candidates, Senate candidates, everybody.”
Political careers may have been made or broken at Murray’s as local movers and shakers held court over biscuits and gravy or hamburgers, but Richards recalls those informal meetings as cordial.
“Nobody ever got mad,” he said. “We just teased each other a lot.”
Those meetings evolved into what became known as the Liar’s Club, a group of influential locals who got together at Murray’s every Saturday morning to learn about local issues and make their thoughts known.
At least one prominent leader even drew his last breath at Murray’s when it was known as the Barnyard Café after an ownership change.
Floyd Ellis, who served four years in the state Senate and retired in 2000 as president and chief executive of Warren Rural Electric Cooperative Corp., collapsed and died at the restaurant on a Saturday in 2009, adding to the Murray’s mystique.
The restaurant served its last meals shortly after that, and regulars like Richards believe it left a void in Bowling Green.
“It was one of the main restaurants in the city and was a popular place,” Richards said. “They set it up every Saturday morning for us. It got to be a tradition.
“It was sad when it closed because it was such a central meeting place.”
– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.