What’s the Buzz with the Hive?

Apiary Fine Catering & Event’s creativity sparked during the pandemic with the introduction of a culinary club


By Elizabeth Scinta
Photos provided by Apiary


When unprecedented times arise, people and businesses alike must adapt to the circumstances to survive. Cooper Vaughan, the Proprietor at Apiary Fine Catering & Events, had to adapt quickly as corporate events, weddings and private events were canceled almost immediately due to the ever-looming pandemic. But, first, let’s rewind to the beginning.

According to Vaughan, Apiary Fine Catering & Events has catered events in Lexington and neighboring areas for about 12 years. In 2015, they opened the doors to the Apiary. Suddenly, in the heart of downtown Lexington, behind a historic brick wall crawling with ivy, sat a dazzling event venue surrounded by enchanted gardens designed by Jon Carloftis. The Apiary went from celebrating momentous occasions with hundreds of guests to sitting empty as events were canceled left and right due to the pandemic. “We saw our world changing very quickly, and we figured we had to quickly find a pivot,” explained Vaughan. “So, our pivot was to create a culinary club called the Hive.” At the beginning of the pandemic, they utilized the kitchen within the Apiary to craft to-go meals that members of the Hive could purchase weekly; they continued to serve to-go meals for about a year and a half.

Being able to work and help out the community during the pandemic with to-go meals was a big deal for Vaughan and his team, but they had a charming, luxurious event space that wasn’t being used to its full potential. When restaurants began opening under strict guidelines, Vaughan realized they could turn the Apiary into a non-traditional restaurant; thus, OMAGE was born. “OMAGE was our restaurant concept that came during COVID-19 as the next reincarnation before catering returned,” said Vaughan. “OMAGE is a play on the word homage, and it started as a way to pay homage to something. It could be a chef, a book or a region.”

OMAGE is a pop-up restaurant experience that happens throughout the year with different themes, all aimed at paying homage to something. Behind the brick wall, the gardens and Apiary are transformed with extraordinary decor. The culinary and beverage team crafts a seven-course tasting menu with paired wines and cocktails inspired by the evening’s theme.

But wait, there’s more! The Apiary also hosts pop-up OMAGE cocktail events throughout the year. “The cocktail concepts have live music and food stations. The space is still transformed, but it’s a multi-sensory food carnival vibe, where the other OMAGES are elegant sit-down dinners,” said Vaughan. OMAGE events are ticketed for members and non-members with a two-week pre-sale for members.

Regardless of membership, one can attend the monthly Apiary Tearoom, where a classic English tea service is served on heirloom china and silver, and you can finally experience a proper English tea time. Members of the Hive can also attend twice-monthly supper clubs, which feature a tasting menu from a seasonally inspired driven menu by Apiary’s talented culinary team.

Louisvillians, it’s time to step out of our comfort zone and get familiar with Lexington. Consider stopping by the Apiary before or after a day at Keeneland, or craft a weekend filled with sightseeing and exquisite eats. The Apiary team created fantastic new opportunities for Lexingtonians, but now that events are back on (yippee!), their weekends are filled with catering delectable menus for private events, both on- and off-property.

Through innovation, Vaughan was able to keep his team together throughout the pandemic, which allowed them to grow immensely with their creative processing and content production. “Even though we have these beautiful institutions and restaurants that have been a part of our community for a long time, once you let the people go, you kind of let the spirit go, and it just becomes a building with an old story,” explained Vaughan. That’s the real jewel of the story, keeping this team together. That’s what sets us apart moving forward because so many people didn’t have the opportunity to keep their team together.”

Apiary Fine Catering & Events
218 Jefferson Street
Lexington, KY