Born and raised in Erlanger, Kentucky, Kevin Dailey recalls not being allowed to visit the City of Newport as a child due to the seedy reputation it had earned for the gambling halls and Las Vegas-style nightclubs that once lined the streets. Today, he says, “Newport is experiencing a renaissance and quickly proving why it deserves the title of northern Kentucky’s entertainment capital.” 

This rebirth, in part, led him to select Newport on the Levee for his debut solo venture, Shiners on the Levee (Shiners). “Coming back to NKY over 20 years after I left and seeing the complete revitalization of the area, I knew this community was where I had to hang my first sign. To me, the Levee is an untapped jewel, and with all the improvements North American Properties has made over the past few years, it has finally regained its sparkle.”

In early 2022, after spending more than two decades on the West Coast working at renowned hospitality-driven companies, Dailey returned to his Kentucky roots and launched Prodigal Son Hospitality Group (Prodigal Son). He celebrated the grand opening of Shiners, Prodigal Son’s flagship brand, last December, bringing much-needed energy back to the Purple People Bridge approach. Now, his country-themed restaurant has become quite the talk of the town. 

In this week’s Levee Life Spotlight, Dailey dishes on Shiners and the success he’s seen so far. To see more behind-the-scenes coverage, visit our Instagram.

You’ve worked in some of the most iconic entertainment destinations in the US. Tell us how you got your start in the hospitality industry. 

I grew up about 20 minutes from the Levee and after high school, attended the University of Kentucky, where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics. My hospitality journey began in 2001 when I moved to the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas, to learn the time-honored techniques and core values behind delivering top-notch guest experiences. In 2006, I joined The Light Group, a hospitality and development management company known for operating world-class venues inside some of the Strip’s most iconic casinos, like the Bellagio, Aria, and The Mirage. While at The Light Group, I served as Director of Operations and helped opened numerous dining and nightlife hotspots during my five-year tenure. From there, I went on to hold various positions such as Director of Nightlife at the Hard Rock Hotel (San Diego, CA), Vice President of Infusion Beach Hotel (Palm Springs, CA), Managing Partner of Clique Hospitality, and finally, Vice President of Zen Compound, LLC, before making the decision to move back home. 

You grew up in Kentucky. What brought you back and how has the homecoming been so far? 

That’s easy, family. Getting older has made me realize the importance of surrounding yourself with people who love you and will always show up, no matter the circumstance. I knew I was ready to start building my empire but needed a strong support system to help me lay the foundation. Cut to the opening of Shiners on the Levee. 

We have been absolutely blown away at how well the concept has been received by locals! People really seem to love the food and overall atmosphere we’ve curated. Fun fact, we have between 40 and 60 dancers that show up weekly for our line dancing classes taught by The Ritz Ballroom Dance Studio

There is so much momentum at the Levee right now, and we are thrilled to be a chapter in its comeback story. 

How would you describe Shiners in an elevator pitch to out-of-towners? 

Unlike most grab-and-go eateries of its kind, Shiners is an elevated, full-service BBQ restaurant coupled with a live entertainment experience that offers something for everyone. Our menu features a mix of traditional smokehouse meats, vegetarian options like the baked bean hummus,and classic sides such as mac-and-cheese. Throughout the week we keep the joint rockin’ with events ranging from trivia to line dancing to karaoke to live country music. We also recently opened our 3,800-square-foot patio, and I can already tell you that’s going to be the best place for summer hangs. A new event crafted specifically for it is in the works now and should go livein the coming weeks, so keep an eye on social media…especially if you have kids that need to get some energy out. 

What’s the overall vibe like at Shiners?

When design plans were in their infancy, I knew I wanted to bring a bit of Nashville flair to Newport and create a honky-tonk environment with an upscale dining component. Changing over from a restaurant to a music venue mid-shift is unique to this area but very common for Nashville, and I felt up for the challenge. I also think locals have been craving something over-the-top like Shiners for a while. So, we went all in on bringing #Nashport to life. You’ll notice several of our menu items fit into this country theme, i.e., our Reverse Cowgirl cocktail that’s served in an acrylic cowboy hat, and The Grillout, our sampler, that comes on a mini grill.

We’ve also partnered with Tennessee-based Ole Smoky Moonshine to be the area’s exclusive restaurant partner and are the only local place that offers its full line of moonshine. To play off this, we had the Mason Jar Mafia build an ornamental still, equipped with a smoke machine for show, and installed it on the patio. 

This place was made for bachelorette parties, birthday celebrations, influencers, and anyone else looking for a good time. 

What’s your favorite part about Life on the Levee?

Being around genuine people who do what they say and say what that mean, a lost art in other parts of the country. All our neighbors have been super welcoming and accommodating. Plus, I have a beautiful view I get to look at on the Dailey. See what I did there? 

What’s the best business-related advice you’ve ever received?

Be careful of the toes you step on today because they might be connected to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow….

Learn more about Shiner’s and watch Kevin on Kickin’ it with Ken here