Proclamation honors long-time Winchester businessman and community servant

Published 4:30 pm Monday, March 11, 2024

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On Tuesday night, a meeting of the Winchester City Commission proved eventful for more reasons than one. 

Among other events, an individual who has long been a shining light to the community received a well-deserved share of recognition. 

Longtime citizen Bob Tabor was honored for his services to the community, receiving praise and even a standing accomplishment for a career and journey that started over 40 years ago. 

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Surrounded by family and friends – including former coworkers and employees – Tabor was the first person to gain notice when a proclamation honoring both his life and The Engine House – which he opened and ran for many years. 

As a part of the proclamation, it was noted that Tabor originally worked at Allman’s Restaurant on the Kentucky River in the 1970s, where he watched the beer cheese craze in Clark County take off. 

Having always had a fascination with much industrial equipment, including fire trucks, Tabor discovered that the building at 9 West Lexington was constructed in 1885 as a horse-drawn carriage fire station. 

After purchasing the building and opening the Engine House Deli in 1984, Tabor not only helped revolutionize the beer cheese industry, but also came up with River Rat Beer Cheese; one of the first to be solid in numerous locations throughout Kentucky. 

Yet, that’s not all. 

“[U]nder Bob’s tenure at Engine House Deli, he employed and nurtured 250+ employees. Bob liked to employ high school students to help them learn basic business skills, but more importantly, people and life skills. His goal was that everyone who moved on from ‘the deli’ would know how to deal with every kind of personality,” reads the proclamation. 

With the property at 9 West Lexington Avenue celebrating its 140th birthday on March 17, 2024, the time for such significant recognition was quite relevant. 

“Now, therefore, I, JoEllen Reed, Mayor of the City of Winchester, do hereby recognize and commend Bob Tabor for his lifelong service to our community and designate March 17th as the Bob Tabor Engine House Homecoming Day in Winchester and encourage all citizens to join me in honoring and celebrating this day,” reads the proclamation.

Mr. Tabor shared some words with those in attendance. 

“I’m thinking about the people that really helped me when I got started,” he said, mentioning several names. “I had the most amazing employees and the only thing more amazing [were] my customers.” 

The Engine House Deli is now owned and operated by Chad and Jill Walker, who continue to have a positive and growing relationship with the retired Tabor.