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Gosney brothers buy Newport’s iconic Green Derby building, have big plans to bring it back to life

By Maridith Yahl
NKyTribune reporter

The Green Derby restaurant is synonymous with Newport. Although it is now closed, brothers Dean and Shane Gosney, owners of HAL-PE Associates, could not let the 70-year restaurant’s history, in Newport’s colorful past, stay vacant. The brothers purchased the building and have big plans to bring the historic building and iconic restaurant back to life.

Dean and Shane do the heating and air and plumbing plans for new commercial construction. Dean, an electrical engineer, and Shane, a mechanical engineer, collaborate well together.

When they began looking for a new office for HAL-PE, they found themselves renovating a diamond in the rough, a piece of Newport history. The former Newport Rolling Mill Company Headquarters on the corner of what is now W 9th and Lowell Streets was run by the Andrew brothers.

The Old Green Derby

The condition of the building when they bought it was lackluster. But the two put their sweat equity into restoring it to its former glory. Dean says it was “a little bit of a rush” uncovering so many hidden features. The brothers are proud of the outcome. It seems worthy of historical designation and is quite stunning.

The renovations of the Green Derby are met with excitement. The brothers have grand plans. They claim not to be historic preservationists but their passion for their building and now the Green Derby is heartfelt as they talk about what the future holds.

“We are not restaurant people; we are building people. We bought that building because it is an iconic building,” says Dean. He says they intend to save the building and find the right proprietor.

“There’s no hard guarantees that the new people would want to make it the Green Derby, but it would be really nice if they did,” he says.

Dean half-jokingly, but also somewhat serious, has Shane pull a hat off his hat-rack. His muse, a dark-green derby hat. He says it proves how serious he is about the project because he puts it on for inspiration when he is drawing for it.

The New Green Derby

In the York Street Historic District, the building was built in 1876 and used as a grocery store for 32 years. It became a daily market, then a billiards hall until 1947 when the Green Derby opened.

They have renderings complete and have hired and an architect and structural engineer. The new entrance will go back to the original design, on the corner of the building. The front main space will be a renovated “white box,” a design field term. This means the brothers will renovate the bones of the building, making it ready to be rented and return as a restaurant, hopefully the Green Derby.

Restoring original features, they will peel back the drop ceilings, which will take the ceiling back to its original height, to reveal the original textured metal ceilings. Exposing the original steel beams is another detail their eyes have. Dean says steel beams would have been state-of-the-art in 1876.

Through the years, the restaurant annexed outshops to add more dining room space. These little shops, not part of the original building, included an icehouse, garage, bookstore, and confectioner, were flooded in 1937. Not of historical value and well beyond repair, these will be torn down to make space for a new outdoor area.

From inside, the outdoor dining and bar will be accessed through carriage doors, providing historic charm. Patrons will also be able to access the outdoor bar and patio from the street. The area will be surrounded by period looking fencing and part of it will be covered. The elevation renderings are gorgeous and elegant. It will be quite a view outside.

The outdoor patio

As engineers, they design kitchens all the time and know the requirements. Shane notes that most of the area restaurants housed in historic buildings have a kitchen in a cramped space.

“A proper kitchen is hard to come by in an old historic building,” says Shane. “Building a proper kitchen with a nice historically restored dining area will be very rare,” he says.

Dean and Shane have a vision.

“This building is not the most beautiful building in town. There are prettier buildings but when we get it done, it’s going to look good. This is just such an iconic landmark in the city and Northern Kentucky,” Dean says. He says everyone knows that that restaurant has been on that corner for over 70 years, carrying a lot of weight. The Green Derby has a name, reputation, and history.

The Gosney brothers want to hear your stories about the Green Derby. Email Dean Gosney at dgosney@halpe.com any stories or photographs about the restaurant. He and Shane want to preserve these memories along with the building.

“This was known as the place where everybody would go to have lunch and they could talk business,” says Dean.

Dean and Shane believe the people of Newport deserve to have that back. Sometimes it is not about money but community. For the brothers, that’s abundantly clear on this project.

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  1. Deborah Blood says:

    Thank you! Have no idea what this means to our family. Was my Mother’s favorite restaurant and she took everyone there! She passed away, April 2018. We found all these Green Derby gift cards that she would give people for their bdays! So exciting! Be proud of your endeavor!

  2. Teri Foltz says:

    Will the brothers be looking for a buyer when they finish? Or will they also run the restaurant?

    Please keep the fried eggplant on the menu!!! Loved that!!!

  3. May Moore says:

    This is absolutely wonderful. My Husband, me and his Mom would get chicken dinners there every Sunday and then my Mom, Sister, me and and a few of my Grandchildren would shop at the Thrift Store and eat there every Tuesday which eventually Led to my Sister Helen to become one of people’s favorite Waitresses there. My Sister passed away at the you g age of 53 almost 2 years ago but that corner will always have part of my heart. Just like the Old Mill in Newport will always be a child memory of mine.

  4. Daniel Bishop says:

    If anyone can pull this off it is Dean and Shane. They never cease to impress me by their creativity, energy, compassion and love for this kind of thing. I’m looking forward to seeing the progress and the finished product.

  5. Mickey Williams says:

    Loved the Green Derby! We ate there often with family & friends.
    Some of my favorites were the derby salad, fish sandwiches & dinners, also the best liver dinners & delicious chocolate pies! Best of luck!

  6. D kristen says:

    The green derby was a “go to” place for us. Knew the bartenders, servers and always knew a few friends or neighbors who were there. Thanks for bringing it back

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