When Rob Robinson opened the Fort Thomas Antique and Design Center in November of 2014, he hoped to create an antique shop like no other. One successful year later, it’s evident that he has accomplished this goal, and then some. Formerly the home selection center for Fischer Homes, the 23,500-square-foot building has been transformed into a place of relaxation and reminiscence. The center includes a full-service café, a bourbon and wine bar, and an event center, all under one roof.
“When Fischer Homes moved out and I came in and saw this space, I recognized right away it was just a blank canvas that we could do a lot of good things with,” says Robinson, owner of the center.
A lot of good things were done indeed as Robinson used the space to its full advantage. The center, located at 90 Alexandria Pike, is home to 100 talented artists, pickers, dealers and designers with their own unique flair. Visitors can browse a huge collection of reasonably priced items, ranging from retro antiques to repurposed furniture to custom-made jewelry to women’s clothing, and even 100 percent soy candles. Visitors can also enjoy live blues and jazz on Wednesday and Saturday nights at the center’s most recent addition, the Highlander Juke Joint. Robinson’s “marketing mantra” is to attract kids from ages 18-80 who have never thought about going to a vintage store.
While shopping, visitors can grab some fresh food or a beverage from the Highlander Coffee House. The menu includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert items. Each Sunday, the Omelette and Waffle Bar opens at 8 a.m. and the Bloody Mary Buffet Bar opens at 11 a.m. For the bourbon and wine enthusiast, the Highlander Bourbon and Wine Bar is home to an extensive collection of fine Kentucky bourbon, as well as a nice selection of moderately priced wines.
“I want people to come in and feel like we’ve created the heart of Americana. They can get a craft beer, a glass of wine, a bourbon, an iced tea or a cappuccino, and just stroll around and find something unusual,” says Robinson.
The Highlander Event Center, a charming space with occupancy of 296, is located adjacent and connected to the Antique Center. Hosting all types of events from weddings and class reunions to corporate meetings and charity events, the event center shares the inviting and vintage style of the antique center with a “farmhouse-chic” feel. Additionally, the center’s Highlander Lounge and Conference Room allows nonprofit and civic groups to meet for free.
So, what’s next? According to Robinson, the center will continue to be one big experiment. Some things to look forward to in future months at the center include Santa Saturdays beginning Nov. 28. Every Saturday, Santa visits the center for free photos with kids of all ages. A Christmas Fashion and Craft Show will be held in the event center on Dec. 5.