Mariah’s sold, set to move from historic building in April

A family walks into Mariah’s on Friday, Feb. 7. The restaurant occupied the Mariah Moore House, the oldest standing brick structure in Bowling Green, but new ownership decided to move the business to a new location in Hitcents Park Plaza. (Kreable Young/HERALD)

Leah Brown

Bowling Green’s historic restaurant, Mariah’s, will be relocating in April. 

MR Group President Clinton Mills announced Feb. 3 his new ownership of Mariah’s restaurant, as well as his new plans for the business. He intends to move the restaurant from the Mariah Moore House on State Street to the Hitcents Park Plaza. 

The Plaza will include a parking garage and five new restaurants. There will be three fast-casual restaurants, each specializing in either Italian, Mexican or Asian cuisine. The other two will be full-service restaurants, one being Mariah’s, and the other a sports bar. Mariah’s will occupy the first floor.  

“They are an anchor restaurant in Bowling Green, and the opportunity arose and it was something we didn’t hesitate to do,” Marketing Coordinator for Hitcents, Sydnee Dorris, said. “We were excited to have them here.” 

Mariah’s general manager, Jodi Fleming, denied to comment on why they had to sell.

Fleming said she thinks the change is a great thing and that it will help move the business forward. The new location opens lots of career opportunites, and the new building has many advantages. 

The restaurant will remain open at its current location until its move in April 2014. 

The current Mariah’s staff will transfer to the new location. Hitcents plans to hire 300 new employees for the other four restaurants.  

“All the staff is awesome and fun to work with,” Mariah’s employee and WKU student Lizzie Kappes said.

Dorris said that everything else about the restaurant will remain the same, with the exception of a few new menu items. 

“You can get your chicken and buttons and your galaxy pie just like you can right now,” Dorris said. 

Mills bought Mariah’s from its previous owner Rick Kelley. Kelley was hired as a consultant for the new location. Fleming, who has been with Mariah’s for 32 years, was also hired as the general manager for MR Group’s restaurants.  

The Mariah Moore House is the oldest standing brick building in Bowling Green and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Elizabeth and George Moore built the house in 1818 for about $4,000. According to Mariah’s website, the house was purchased in 1979 by Kelley and was transformed into the restaurant. In 1995, a fire destroyed a majority of the house, but most of it was rebuilt to its original structure.  

The next use for the building is still unknown. It will go up for sale within  the next few weeks.   

“I think [the move] is sad because that building has a lot of history and sentimental value for Mariah’s,” Louisville sophomore Andi Nichol said.

Dorris said they hope for the loyalty of the customers to remain the same and they understand that change is hard.   Fleming believes that customers will be fine once they see the new establishment and will be happy with the change.  

“We can’t wait for everybody else to see what’s going on down here and know that even though the atmosphere is changing, to an extent, there has been a lot of effort and thought and time to make sure that the quality and the service and experience is just as wonderful as it is right now,” Dorris said.