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Ouita Michel opens Smithtown Seafood in Lexington, Kentucky's first

Becca Self, owner of FoodChain, and Ouita Michel, owner of Smithtown Seafood, harvest a tilapia grown in an aquaponics tank in a shortage space inside the restaurant.LEXINGTON, Ky.—Few places contain as wide an array of pleasing aromas as the building at 501 West Sixth Street in Lexington.

About half of its 90, 000 square feet—originally home to a Rainbow Bread factory — is occupied by — while approximately the other half is divided between and, an aquaponics operation. (More on that in a bit.)

The smells of brewing (on this day, winter squashes cooked for pumpkin ale) and frying fish blend just as agreeably as the idea that made both come together.

Yeah, a fish house and a brewery. It was intentional.

Smithtown Seafood is the brainchild of Ouita Michel, chef and co-owner of four restaurants (, , and ) spread between Midway and Lexington. Michel’s uber-creativity once compelled her to consider a brewpub of her own, but when, as she recalled, husband Chris Michel said, “Honey, we can’t stay married if you want to do that, ” she listened. “He was right: It’s much more complicated than it looks.”

The bar at West Sixth Brewing Co.Yet the idea evolved: She’d pair her food with someone else’s beer and both would benefit from the other’s strengths. Over time she learned friends wanted to open a brewery, and the group sought a site roomy enough for both businesses. The long-abandoned factory was available, and the four co-founders of what would become West Sixth bought it.

“We knew we needed room to grow, so we bought the space with that in mind, ” said Ben Self, co-owner of the brewery, and husband to Becca Self, owner of FoodChain. “It’s a good thing, ” he adds, pointing to another massive and empty space in the building, “because we’re growing faster than we thought. We’ll be expanding production and putting equipment back there.”

On the opposite wall of “back there is” the aforementioned FoodChain, Kentucky’s first indoor, commercially scaled aquaponics system. (Aquaponics is the process of growing fish and plants in a mutually beneficial system. to see a neat video describing it.)

In the room are six, ever-gurgling 250-gallon freshwater tanks containing hundreds of live tilapia that eat grain pellets today and, eventually, spent grain from West Sixth.


Continued

by konacop

3. The Pali Look Out for beautiful views of the Windward side of the island
4. Kailua Beach to watch the kite surfers
5. Sea Life Park if you haven't experienced dolphin shows, tropical fish tanks, and would like to see where the movie "50 First Dates" was filmed.
6. The Blow Hole....where waves are forced up through a lava tube and shoot up to 50 feet.
7. Hike Diamond Head Crater. Drive inside the crater and pay a small fee to park. Take bottled water and a camera.
8. Polynesian Cultural Center for the experience

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