LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Few things are a sure bet in Wagner’s. Phenomenal lunch, Derby talk, famous coaches, and Wayne Kestler.
“I probably know more about horses than anyone who comes to eat Wagner,” Kestler said.
The 80-year-old has been working in the restaurant for over 20 years.
“It’s reliable and puts a smile on the face of people who walk through these doors,” said Lee Wagner, owner of Wagner’s Pharmacy.
Wayne did almost every job at Wagner’s. He has run the tables, cooked, painted, helped with construction, and is constantly greeting visitors.
“Everyone knows who Wayne is when they leave,” Wagner said.
Wayne has never met a stranger, and he is quite a character.
“I know a lot about this corner. Jockeys, trainers. It’s hard for me to escape them, but I love them, “said Kestler.
Wayne was born on Longfield Avenue and still lives across the street from the track. He has seen a lot over the years and likes to tell his stories.
“I saw OJ Simpson here. Rick Pitino, I know Bob Baffert. I know a lot of coaches and riders,” Kestler said.
Wayne suffered a stroke around Thanksgiving and had heart surgery, but that didn’t stop him from doing his job.
“We’re lucky to have him,” Wagner said. “You can tell from our customers, especially around Derby time. Most people only see it a day or two a year and every time. They ask, ‘Is Wayne still around?’ Where’s Wayne? “They stop talking to him and call him a good man,” said Wagner.
Wayne wants everyone to know that he is proud of his city and proud of his work. He also wants people to know that horse racing will be in his heart forever.
“I bought a lot in Bullitt County to be buried. I designed my own marker. It has Churchill Downs on it, twin spiers, a bear on it, my son’s name on it, when I was born and when I passed. It’s beautiful.” said Kestler.
But not yet Wayne – too many people are eager to hear your stories and see your smile.
“My hope is to be here another 20 years. Yes. That device at Wagner’s,” Wagner said.
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