The nearly three-decade old Waterfront Restaurant broke free from its moorings and hit the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge Thursday morning.
Kenton County Police initially closed the bridge until they could determine if there was any damage. They have since reopened it.
Jeff Ruby employee Steve Poe was on board when the barge pulled away from shore. "I tried to get off the main ramp. I ran halfway down it and it fell into the river." The Independence man made sure he stayed away from sparking electric lines. He said some of the windows broke when the Waterfront got stuck along the bank at the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge. Poe was rescued by a Ludlow tug boat.
Ruby talked to Poe via cell phone as he was floating down the river. He wanted to know if Poe wanted a 3-way from Skyline and ended up giving him $100 to pay for it. "So it was the biggest smile on his face in the 14 years he's worked for me," said Ruby. "He gets a Skyline and keeps the change for a 100 dollar bill. And he doesn't have to work today. He went through enough."
The closed restaurant has a history of freak accidents. In March, 2011 it broke free with 150 people on board and also rested under the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge. The passengers had to be rescued. Owner Jeff Ruby said over the years the restaurant was hit by two runaway barges and partially sank during Labor Day weekend one year.
On his way to see what happened, Ruby had an accident and tweeted this:
Waterfront breaks loose AGAIN I'm in such a hurry I have a FREKIN car accident a block from Waterfront. How's ur day goin?
— Jeff Ruby (@TheRealJeffRuby) February 6, 2014
The restaurant is scheduled to be moved upriver a half-mile to the site of the old Covington Landing where it will be expanded and renovated. Ruby said he's hired the best marine engineers to make sure the barge won't break loose from that location. A separate barge where people will enter the restaurant is planned and the entire complex will be moored to dolphins in the river.