Kreso's Restaurant

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Kreso’s Restaurant past and present

The History of Kreso's Restaurant

The journey of the Kreso’s family began in war-torn Bosnia and brought them to Bardstown, Ky. Dzevad and Merima Kreso and their three young daughters fled their homeland of Bosnia to find a new life away from the terror of war. This refugee family was welcomed by this community almost 23 years ago. In their homeland, they were successful restaurant owners of Kazamat in the city of¬†Banja Luka, and after losing the restaurant in the war they made their home in Bardstown, and opened Kreso’s Restaurant.

Merima still dreamed of giving back to the community that had welcomed her family. She had a vision of bringing a little of Europe to the people who helped her start a new life. The realization of this dream is Mozart’s Cafe, the result of Merima’s European experience that developed from her love of art, classical music, and a unique dining experience.

“We welcome people of all ages to experience the wonderful feeling of something better than the average ‘Cup of Joy.'”

They also opened and established Cafe Primo Italian Restaurant also in downtown Bardstown. Cafe Primo, now owned and operated by the Kreso’s youngest daughter, Maja Kreso¬†Saric, is also very successful.

The History of the Arco Theater

The Arco and Melody Theaters are two prime examples to celebrate preservation in Kentucky. The two theaters were located side by each other at 216 and 218 North 3rd Street in Bardstown, KY. The Arco between January 16, 1942 to December 31, 1965, or from the first movie “Tarzan’s Secret Treasure” to the last movie shown “Mary Poppins”. The Melody had a grand opening Dec. 3, 1948 and closed May 31, 1953. Together the two now form Kresos Family Restaurant and Mozart Cafe. Today their combined address is 218 Nordth 3rd Street.

In 1942, C.D. Arnold and Pope Sisco jointly built The Arco Theatre at an approximate cost of $60,000. The name originated from the abbreviation of both of their names. The building was made of a fireproof construciton, using a combination of tile, bricks and concrete blocks. The building was built in full compliance under the superision of the State Fire Marshal, with four emergency fire exits.

The structure included a perpendicular Marquee. A large lobby with terrazzo floors, a stepping-stone design in the terrazzo floor marks the lline of traffic from the sidewalk to the auditorium. The auditorium had a seating capacity of 725, with staggered seating in the rear half to make excellant visibility to the movie. The balcony had more than 100 upholstered seats. The projection booth had three large windows for ventilation for the best of the market Model K Motiograph projectors (which are as tall and big as a horse). Air conditioning was provided by a steam heating plant closed off from the rest of the building by a fireproof wall. The Melody Theater contains a railing leaing to the second floor made of a music staff.

Dzevad and Merima Kreso purchased both of the buildings in 2002. Their devotion, love, and determination to fulfill a lifelong dream of a restaurant became a reality July 2004.

The couple tried to preserve the original features of the structure as well as enabling themselves to suit the needs of the restaurant. Adding new walls, roof, electricity, plumbing, heating and air conditioning and restoring the original terrazzo floors was necessary to fulfill their dream. The design is European in nature.

Merima and Dzevad’s design of the building is a reflection of their hearts and love. When you enter the building you feel their inspirations and life experiences and integrity behind their dream. The depth of their integrity is sincere. They have not only incorporadet the orginal architecture of the theaters, but the envisions of the places they have traveled and lived. It’s an elegant, warm, inviting feeling. Merima chose to display the Kresos’ personal colleciton of paintings throughout the resaurant. They came from Bosnia, San Francisco, and Chicago.

As you enter the restaurant one of the first things you notice is a beautiful long hand carved dark stained wooden bar, carved by Senad Cosic, of Bosnia. Another elegant touch of the lives of the Kresos in their former homeland of Bosnia. The bar area has plenty of seating for daily guests to dine and enjoy in an open as well as a quiet area.

The theater area has been restored to seat more dining guest. Capacity is around 500 on the Arco side. The seating of the tables are staggered as were the original seats of the theater. A huge screen is located at the rear of the theater. It’s equipped for conferences, company functions, Christmas Dances, dances, weddings, and other celebrate occasions. They offer dinner and a movie on certain days of the week to their guests. They watched the fabulous March Madness games on television (the bigest T.V. screen in Bardstown. There isn’t anywhere downtown that offers these opportunities.

If the lower level of the theater isn’t enough maybe you should visit the upper level with their theater chairs or lounging chairs and couches. Also upstairs is the original projector booth with the original huge equipment. It’s amazing how technology has changed and simplified.

Kelly Rucker an employee at Kresos was gracious enough to take my family on a tour of the building. He explained the history of the the old building. He spoke of how the two buildings were once segregated, one for Caucasian, and one for African Americans. There were two separate addresses, two ticket booths. The Caucasian guest were escorted to the lower level and the African American guest were escorted to the upper level. Guest that have visited remember when it was separated. The Caucasian kids would sneak upstairs to be with their African American friends, when caught they would be brought back down. The African American kids would throw down popcorn on the Caucasisan kids. He said many people have visited and told of fond memories they experienced at the old theater. Kelly’s excitement is a reflection of the feeling you leave with once you’ve visited restaurant.

The Melody theater hasn’t been totally restored, but will have a capacity around 250 people. It houses extra seating, the main kithcen to the restaurant, and another theater not yet restored. The flooring is magnificent, the railing leading upstairs is an indicator of it’s Melody theme. The Melody was more geared as a musical theater.

So much has happened with the Arco, Melody and Kresos, whether you started out swinging on the vines with Tarzan, swinging from an umbrella with Mary Poppins, or swinging from the basketball rims with the Kentucky Wildcats, you’ve been apart of the Kentucky history of these buildings. The abolishment of segregation and the new unity of one address is a step in the right direction of success. The integration of individuals from different countries and ideas. The incorporation of architecture from different countries and artwork from around the world.

The outside of the building is deceiving to people whom pass by. It’s an average looking old building, nothing exciting, just plain. A simple awning with a small restaurant sign above it. Just another historic old building in Bardstown, Kentucky. Right?

Wrong, walk into the doors just one time and you will be blown away with historic preservation at it’s best. The building has a warmth about it that you don’t notice passing by, but it happens the minute you walk in. The community needs to take advantage of the sercie that is offered. What is plain and simple on the outside is gorgeous on the iside. The architecture, the two original theaters, the two old movie projectors, the history, the stories. Visit Kresos and enjoy!

Contact Us

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(502) 348-9594
(502) 548-0398
(502) 548-3038

218 N 3rd St
Bardstown, Kentucky

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