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Months After Devastating Fire, Taylor Mill Restaurant to Reopen

Derby Day 2013 won't soon be forgotten by Kevin and Kelly Novesl.

Their popular Taylor Mill restaurant Knuk N Futz went up in flames and shut the place down.

The damage was so bad that it was possible, for the first time since 1996, Novesl, of Fairview, would not be operating a business there. An outpouring of support and concern convinced him to do give it another try.

"We loved the community but we had no idea what we meant to them," Novesl said. Knuk N Futz reopens to the public on Friday after more than five months of work restoring, cleaning, and rebuilding the Taylor Mill Road facility.

The flames affected the bar and the kitchen and the smoke damage took a toll on the whole place, some of which includes remnants from a mid-nineteenth century barn that sat on the original farm at the site. "It would have broke my heart if I had to take it out," Novesl said of the 150-year old wood.

On Wednesday, the couple welcomed contractors and others who worked hard on getting Knuk N Futz opened again. It was another significant investment but one that will likely prove to be worth it as the restauran't phone is ringing and the door is being beaten down by local diners who have missed the traditional American cuisine offered there.

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Knuk N Futz is back

"We're gonna get our asses kicked," Novesl said of Friday's opening. "We have people calling for reservations and people wanting to camp out."

"It's been a long wait for the place to open up," said Ed Kuehne, a Taylor Mill city commissioner. "Everyone should visit. We've been waiting a long time."

No one has been more anxious to reopen the doors than the Novesls. Kevin first operated Buffalo Wings & Rings on the site where Taylor Mill Family Restaurant and Seven Oaks previously operated.

When he left the Buffalo Wings & Rings franchise and purchased the building in 2003, he needed to come up with a new name. He knocked around easy, cheesy options like "Taylor Mill Roadhosue" or "Wings Are Us", but "wanted something with character".

He recalled his youth growing up around restaurants run by his father, a man who never let his staff see him get rattled but who privately bemoan a rough day behind closed doors with a polite play on profanity. "These people are driving me nuckin' futs," Novesl's father would say.

Now it's Novesl running a restaurant again after an unexpected hiatus. Some of the interior had to be redone and their additional plans to add outdoor service. There is new plumbing, a new HVAC system, and ceilings.

One thing expected to remain the same is the long line of loyal customers. "We really are your neighbors," Novesl said. "It's not just a slogan. It's true."

Much of the staff is back to work, too, ready to serve while wearing t-shirts that read on the back: Life is too short to eat insipid food.

The new kitchen is sure to produce the same flavorful fare that has driven a generation of Taylor Mill residents nuckin' futs enough to come back for more after al this time.

Customers aren't the only ones ecstatic about the restaurant's return.

"I feel fantastic," Novesl said. "I'm about speechless and I'm not usually short on words. It's an emotion I don't think I've had."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Novesl visits with guests at Knuk N Futz on Wednesday night/RCN