A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Richard Zumwalde’s Purple Poulet ‘Southern Bourbon Bistro’ joins Gosney brothers’ Green Derby

By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

When Dean and Shane Gosney purchased the iconic Green Derby restaurant building in Newport, they saw a diamond in the rough. Lead as much by their hearts as their business sense, they were determined to return it to its long-past glory, polish it with their passion for the historic building — and bring the restaurant back to life.

The concept is becoming reality

They also knew they were engineers and not restaurateurs and were determined to find just the right proprietor to do justice to the historic place.

Enter Richard Zumwalde. It’s a match made in heaven.

Zumwalde is the founder and owner of the Purple Poulet in Dayton. He has spent most of his life — since high school — in the food industry, including as executive chef for Christ Hospital, the Elms in Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Club and Bankers Club, the revolving restaurant at the fomer Quality Inn in Covington — and more.

“I grew up in the area and have always been drawn to Northern Kentucky,” he said. “I really like history — and I love that Kentucky has so much history — its culture, its bourbon, its fried chicken — and so much tradition.”

Chef Zumwalde

He and his wife, Roxanne, opened the Purple Poulet in 2016 and set about to make a destination of the Southern Bourbon Bistro, an intimate experience in charming surroundings complete with sipping bourbons, a selection of international wines and local craft beers. With a cuisine reminiscent of Charleston and New Orleans — with a Kentucky infusion. Southern Living once said the Purple Poulet had the “Best Fried Chicken” in Kentucky.

It reflects Zumwalde’s interest in history, tradition and fine cuisine.

Now, he can’t wait to make his mark on the incredible place Dean and Share Gosney are re-creating in the former Green Derby. Demolition is underway on parts of additions that had been made to the historic building to make way for an outdoor seating area. The Gosneys are returning the historic integrity to the building itself. For one example, they have discovered the original tin ceiling which delights the history-loving Zumwalde and creates more openness.

Zumwalde is providing his expert advice on the brand new, expanded kitchen space.

With better weather and good luck, the Purple Poulet at the Green Derby could be open by early summer.

While getting deeper into the restaurant business during the COVID pandemic might not seem like the best idea, Zumwalde said the timing is actually good. He had outgrown his current space even before COVID and was starting to think about needing more room, now especially given COVID restrictions and safe distancing.

“People need to feel safe, especially when they go out to eat at a restaurant,” he said.

At the new, renovated Green Derby, he can double his indoor seating, use the second floors’ private rooms for small parties — or as an extension of the downstairs seating. And he’ll have a much-coveted outdoor patio with its own bar for nearly triple his present space.

He’s keeping in mind what he’s learned from COVID to create intimacy and ambience while providing safe spacing. And his mind is spinning with ideas that will honor the Green Derby (and likely that other Derby too). He loves creating the esthetics.

And he loves good food as well. He’ll be keeping the Green Poulet menu — here — but will add more to it, as the Bluegrass meets the Deep South. And, yes, fried chicken will definitely be on the menu.

See the NKyTribune’s story about Dean and Shane Gosney’s renovation of The Green Derby

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  1. Ed Miller says:

    Love it…Keep the Ky news coming….
    …transplanted to Fla..

  2. Best of luck.

    Transplanted to Florida too …

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