Northern Kentucky restaurant survives extreme flooding with community support

LUDLOW, Ky — A Northern Kentucky restaurant that was underwater six weeks ago is now back open and drying off.

What You Need To Know

  • Buck’s BBQ had almost five feet of standing water
  • The restaurant took a $10,000 hit
  • Community members helped raise money, clean up
  • Owner is optimistic for the future

The restaurant felt the wrath of the immense flooding seen across the state as bad as anyone, but it’s staying afloat thanks to the support of the surrounding community.

56.9 inches, or almost five feet, is marked with a line in the dining area of Buck’s BBQ in Ludlow.

“This was the level of the water at its highest,” said owner Graham “Buck” Buchanan, pointing to the mark. “It did wash the top of the bar. I had a beautiful stage that is probably in Louisville or somewhere there at the moment. The power of the water is amazing.”

Starting on March 3, fish was the only thing on the menu at Buck’s for about five days. They were literally swimming through the main floor.

“You could’ve caught some beautiful carp and catfish here,” Buchanan said.

To this point, that stretch has been the hardest part of Buchanan’s journey, which started in South Africa and brought him here to Ludlow, where his restaurant now sits nestled right up on the banks of the Ohio River. He’s been in the area for about a year and a half.

That view of the river from Buck’s is hard to beat normally, but for those five days, the river put a beat down on Buck and his staff.

“Those were the worst five days. You don’t want it over again. It was terrible,” he said. “It’s a gut punch. You know, you see it happening before your eyes, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

After having to throw everything out, and fix the damage, the restaurant took about a $10,000 hit, Buchanan said. But he wasn’t going to waste time feeling sorry for himself.

“It doesn’t help a person to sit down and cry in the corner. You got to fight it,” he said. “When the water receded, that’s when the work started.”

Buck learned quickly how tight knit of a community Ludlow is.

A Go-Fund-Me page set up by his daughter has raised more than $3,000 for the restaurant, and people even helped come clean up.

“We started getting all the mud out, and then you know you have to clean the walls and disinfect. We did all that and we brought it back to normal with everybody’s help,” Buchanan said.

Now Buck’s is back open. And while Buchanan is still trying to spread the word to remind people, the regulars have started to come back as well.

“I think it’s remarkable. I think they’ve got a good thing going here. They need to get the word out a little more. Get some more business, drum up some business down here,” said customer Bill Bates. “It’s a good place. I love that they’re still operating after having the water up that high, it’s quite a feat.”

For that support, and dryer days ahead, Buck said he’ll always be grateful.

“I don’t know what we would’ve done. That really helped us get through this,” he said.