The Hard Rock Cafe at Fourth Street Live! in downtown Louisville. Dec. 1, 2020

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Boarded up for months in the pandemic, Hard Rock Cafe at Louisville's Fourth Street Live! entertainment district will close permanently after 16 years, Hard Rock International said Tuesday.

In a statement issued through a public relations agency, the Davie, Florida,-based corporation said it has decided not to renew the restaurant's expiring lease.

"Since opening the doors of Hard Rock Cafe Louisville in 2004, Hard Rock International has enjoyed serving the Louisville community and playing a role in the city’s dining culture," the company said. "The brand remains committed to the city and is open to having another location within the market, if the right space can be identified."

It's another blow for Fourth Street Live!, Louisville's publicly subsidized downtown entertainment district catering tourists and convention-goers.

Bourbon giant Beam Suntory said earlier this month that it would permanently close the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse, a micro-distillery visitors attraction opened at Fourth Street Live! only five years earlier. 

In June, Eddie Merlot's steakhouse, another Fourth Street Live! fixture, closed permanently.

Louisville Tourism estimates about $380 million was lost to convention cancellations in 2020. Conventions are known to drive business downtown, especially at Fourth Street Live!.

Downtown partners believe the convention loss, and the fact that only a fraction of the approximately 70,000 downtown workers are in offices, has led to the multiple losses of businesses and restaurants in the area.

"There's been a few restaurants close, and there will probably be a few others," said Karen Williams, president and CEO of Louisville Tourism. "We're all trying to do everything we can, at this point, to hang on."

Once tourism and conventions return to the downtown area following the pandemic, many believe it will bring back businesses or attract new ones.

"I'm not so sure that the right phrase is 'How are we going to come back?'" said Rebecca Matheny, executive director of Louisville Downtown Partnership. "I think the right phrase may be 'How are we going to move forward in the best way possible?'"

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