History of Grant's Lick, KY
Historical Marker #1642 in Grant’s Lick commemorates this Campbell County community’s settlement and founding.
In 1793, saltwater was discovered in the area by Samuel Bryan, who was a nephew of Daniel Boone. John Grant, also a nephew of the famous frontiersman, owned the land on which the saltwater was found and created a profitable business around the mining of salt. Salt licks were natural formations where wildlife often gathered to lick the ground to obtain the mineral. Along with Charles Morgan and John Breckinridge, who also claimed land in the area, a salt drilling effort began in order to manufacture and sell bushels of salt. In July of 1804, Grant, Breckinridge, and James Taylor formed an official partnership in the business.
The process of mining salt was a tedious one. Workers drilled through several feet of mud and sand in a nearby creek bed until they struck rock. The drill needed to descend even further to reach the saltwater. Extracted through pipes, the water was pumped by either man or horsepower into large salt kettles. Weighing up to ninety pounds, the kettles were boiled in a long trench in the ground. As the water boiled, it evaporated, leaving salt residue behind. Depending on concentration levels, the process required anywhere from 250 to 900 gallons of water to create one bushel of salt.
In order for Grant's endeavor to be successful, nearby roads needed to be developed. All of the men involved in the salt business partnership were influential in the creation of local routes. The entrepreneurs specifically advocated for a road that connected Grant's Lick to Newport and thus the Ohio River. Because of their partnership and common interest in the salt business, the area of Grant's Lick developed into the thriving rural community it is today.
Grant's Lick Cafe
Family Owned and Operated Since 1991
Grant’s Lick Café holds a long history as a prosperous business in the little town where salt licks were discovered. A former log home converted into a hotel, funeral home and more, eventually became known as Grant’s Lick Café in the 1980s when Mary Owens owned the bar. Mary lived upstairs in the small apartment and would often serve soup and other goodies which earned it the “Café” name.
On April 29th, 1991, the bar transitioned owners to Tom and Donna Moreland. Tom Moreland, whom everyone called “Tom Daddy”, made Grant’s Lick Café his home away from home. He shared his love for the UK Wildcats on many game nights and throughout the year. He worked for the railroad until retirement, but his hobby was dedicated to Grant's Lick Cafe. He and his wife Donna made many changes over the years such as converting the bar into the nostalgic “horse-shoe bar” many still remember, the lower side bars with spindles, Karaoke on Friday nights, and more. All who frequented Grant’s Lick Café were not known as customers, but as family to Tom Daddy and Donna.
In Loving Memory of "Tom Daddy" Moreland
January 5th, 1941 - November 23rd, 2018
Tom and Donna Moreland at Tom Daddy's Retirement Party
On March 1st, 2011, Jo Wells (Daughter), Stacy Wells (Son-in-Law), and Randy Moreland (Son) became the new owners of Grant’s Lick Café. They too made strides to keep Da Lick alive by introducing live music on a regular basis and carrying on a Big Blue Nation haven. They followed in their father's footsteps and kept the hometown feeling alive. With a heavy heart, on June 29, 2015, Randy Moreland passed away unexpectedly. Jo (Randy’s sister) continued to run the bar and kept things moving, but in 2016, she decided it was time to move on to new endeavors.
In Loving Memory of Randy Moreland
September 6th, 1961 - June 29th, 2015
Pictured left to right: Randy Moreland, Jo (Moreland) Wells, and Stacy Wells
In 2016, their cousin, Bill Yelton, took on ownership of Grant’s Lick Café. After years of Grant’s Lick Café being owned and operated by family, he looked to pay tribute in many creative ways, such as the metal sign above the kitchen threshold that says “Tom Daddy’s Bar” and the faint “Tom Daddy” script written in the wildcat painting behind the bar. Bill wanted to keep the history alive, but also knew that updates were needed to bring new customers. Bill decided to move to a non-smoking bar and also open a kitchen in 2020. The kitchen addition brought a whole new opportunity to expand the business, adding a full-time cook and eventually more bartenders and servers. The COVID pandemic did cause many challenges in 2020 and into 2021, however, as word continues to spread, Bill was recently able to expand the menu and offer even more delicious food choices, including a “Late Night Menu” on the weekends. Other improvements have been made to the inside of the bar such as fresh bright paint and a new bar. On the outside, an expanded bar top with stools and other patio improvements were made to enhance curb appeal. As the live music calendar grows, an outdoor stage was added just in time for summer. As COVID restrictions are lifted, he hopes to bring back Karaoke as well. Bill is committed to continuously bringing improvements to Grant's Lick Cafe.
We hope you value our history and future endeavors as much as we do. We are proud to be part of the Grant's Lick community. Thank you for your love and support!
This page is also dedicated to the many friends and family gone too soon. Your memory will always be part of the Grant's Lick Cafe family. May you rest in peace. Until we meet again. Cheers!