Jeff Ruby abandons river, plans to open brand new Waterfront restaurant on land in Covington

COVINGTON, Ky.  - Jeff Ruby says he's tired of chasing his runaway Waterfront floating restaurant down the Ohio River, so he's building a brand new Waterfront - safe and secure - on land.

"It's sexy to dine at a floating restaurant, but it's not safe sex," Ruby told WCPO Thursday.  "We've been hit by runaway barges. We've been hit by a runaway iceberg. We've sunk, and we've had other things, too.

"It's time to say, 'Enough is enough.' "

PHOTO GALLERY: Waterfront drifts downriver on Feb. 6, 2014

The popular restaurateur announced plans to open a new restaurant on the vacant Covington Landing site at the foot of Madison Avenue.

Near the river, but not on it.

"We're in discussion with Corporex and the city of Covington, building this thing right there on the concrete pad at the former entrance to the Covington Landing," Ruby said. "It will be a spectacular restaurant and it will have better views than the other Waterfront did, but it won't be floating.

"It can't be hit by runaway barges. It can't have debris. It can't sink. It'll be safe. It'll be a safe dining experience."

Ruby wouldn't say how much it will cost to build a new restaurant from scratch, or when it might open.

Ruby said he considered the safety of guests and employees and the extra cost of operating a floating restaurant when he decided to abandon plans to reopen on a barge.

"It was profitable for a long time, but it turned into a non-profit company," he said of his river venture.

"It's a big loss. But you take your lumps. God's been good to me. The city's been good to me. I'm lucky to be alive. That's just money."

The Waterfront has been closed since March 2011, when it drifted about 100 feet with 84 diners on board and stopped against the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge.

It made a second unscheduled ride down the river last February after it had been towed to the Covington Landing.

Heavy ice on the river and high water broke it free, and a workman on the barge nearly fell into the water before it crossed the river and landed ashore on the Ohio side, again stopping across the bridge.

No one was hurt either time.

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