St. Paul's classic Lexington restaurant is back on the market, after a group of buyers that had agreed to buy it proved unable to swing the deal.

That means it's possible that the venerable steak-and-seafood place at Grand Avenue and Lexington Parkway, which has been closed since May 31, won't be open in time for the holiday season, St. Paul real estate agent Judd Fenlon said.

"We are hopeful that whoever buys it can carry on the tradition of the Lex," Fenlon said. "We are, however, very excited about discussing the sale to other restaurateurs."

He added that "several very interested parties" were reviewing the property, which includes the restaurant and two parking lots to the south and east.

The restaurant's current owners agreed to a sale in principle in May. The identity of the buyers was never released and Fenlon declined to name them Friday, but they were said to be owners of another St. Paul restaurant.

Their plans were to spend the summer renovating the restaurant and reopen it this fall. Laid-off restaurant employees were encouraged to reapply for their jobs when it reopened.

But the buyers were unable to financially execute the deal and defaulted on the agreement last week, Fenlon said. "I think both parties were disappointed that the sale did not go through," he said.

The Lex has been at the center of a controversy in recent months, as the current owners won city approval over the objections of some neighbors to serve liquor on the roof late into the evening to bolster summer business. The license would transfer to new owners.