Monday Business Briefing: Capture Higher Ed doubles in size, El Taco Luchador eyes new location, developer schools us on Main Street history, and more
Welcome to the Sept. 21 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.
Capture Higher Ed. killing it on student recruitment scene
Capture Higher Ed., a Louisville startup that uses big data to help universities recruit students, reported a fourth year of rapid growth in closing out its fiscal year. This year, GLI declared Capture Higher Ed. to its list of “Fast 50”– one of the fastest-growing companies in Louisville — and they’re really living up to the hype: In FY ’14-’15, the company doubled its employees and doubled its revenues.
Declining high school graduation rates — the lowest in 20 years — have made Capture Higher Ed.’s services more and more attractive to college admissions directors who are struggling to meet enrollment goals.
“Student recruitment has become increasingly more complex, and the old search strategy of buying more names no longer satisfies enrollment goals. Capture uses a data-driven approach to find mission-fit students for our clients,” said CEO Steve Huey. “We engage students most likely to enroll at a specific university, which reduces the market acquisition costs for our partners.”
FY 14-15 also saw the launch of Capture’s Behavioral Engagement (CBE) software. CBE actively tracks how potential students use a school’s website. If the students are gravitating toward specific fields of study, like liberal arts or engineering, the software tracks this. It uses this information to help the school recruit the kind of students that would be the best fit.
Creepy? Everything on the Internet is.
Capture Higher Ed. also reports that it increased revenue by 118 percent and sales by 208 percent. This year, Capture debuted at No. 750 on the 2015 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies in the United States. –Melissa Chipman
Chef Fernando Martinez seeking input on second El Taco Luchador location
Restaurateur Fernando Martinez always has something up his sleeve.
It’s not enough that he and his partners are opening a Spanish tapas restaurant, Artesano Vino Tapas Y Mas, on Oct. 13, along with a second Mussel & Burger Bar downtown that same month. The group also plans to open a barbecue restaurant in February.
Now Martinez is actively searching for a location to open a second El Taco Luchador.
El Taco Luchador serves up some of the best, if not the best, tacos in town, and Martinez previously told Insider Louisville he’d possibly like to have 10 El Taco Luchadors one day.
This weekend, Martinez took to Facebook to ask family, friends and fellow chefs what they thought about the prospect of an El Taco Luchador opening in Norton Commons.
He also mentioned that he hopes to open an El Taco Luchador in Lexington next year.
Some commenters were skeptical about Norton Commons, saying the location is isolated, while others believed that no matter where it was located, an El Taco Luchador store would draw plenty of customers.
Heads up: Key projects go before Louisville’s zoning board
The Louisville Board of Zoning Adjustment has a laundry list of projects to consider Monday, including a couple key ventures as well as at least one controversial project.
High up on the list of items to watch out for are these projects:
- After delaying a decision in August, the zoning board is expected to determine whether Swift Pork Company in Butchertown can continue to stage large running trailers in a lot off Cabel Street. Nearby residents have taken issue with the company, complaining about dust, noise and truck traffic at all hours.
- Seed Capital Ky, the nonprofit behind the West Louisville FoodPort, will have a public hearing at the meeting regarding waivers and variances it needs to progress with the multi-million, 24-acre sustainability-focused project. Residents generally have been supportive of the project, which no longer includes a controversial biofuel plant.
- The YMCA of Greater Louisville will have a similar public hearing about variances and waivers for its new West End YMCA located at Broadway and 18th Street. The project has avoided any criticism, and YMCA leaders currently are working to secure new market tax credits to fund the development.
As per usual, the zoning board is meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the old jail, 514 W. Liberty St. For those who can’t attend the meeting — some of which have been known to go on for 12 hours with breaks — you can stream video of the meeting here. —Caitlin Bowling
Crescent Hill bodega sets October opening date
The shelves of Fond are slowly filling up ahead of its opening next month.
Insider Louisville reported not long ago that personal chef Madeleine Dee was opening Fond, a small grocery, bakery and part-time restaurant at 2520 Frankfort Ave. At the time, she wasn’t sure when exactly it would open.
The open date has since been officially set for Friday, Oct. 2.
Dee has been posting photos of her progress on Fond’s Facebook page and already held one private dining event at the business. She plans to host more private functions when the business is up and running, and she’s already booking reservations for dinners. —Caitlin Bowling
KingFish closing one location, renovating another
Expecting John Varanese’s new restaurant to draw many eyes to River Road, KingFish is looking to spruce up its own store just up river.
“We feel like we need to raise our game a little because of that,” said Greg Wortham, controller for Louisville’s KingFish restaurants.
The company plans to invest at least $1 million to renovate the kitchen, dining room and possibly a portion of the outdoor areas at the large River Road store, which seats about 700 people.
Wortham tells IL he sees the addition of Varanese’s raw bar restaurant as a benefit to KingFish, which currently sits alone at that section of River Road near Zorn Avenue.
“Unless you got Kingfish on your mind, you don’t really think about that location,” he said.
Wortham was unable to detail exactly what would change with the restaurant since the company is still waiting on suggestions from the project architect. However, renovations will start as early as December.
Executives hope to keep the location open during the renovations, but that may not be possible, he said. No matter what, they want to re-open in time for the Lenten season, which starts on Feb. 10 next year.
In conjunction with the River Road alterations, KingFish executives have decided to close its Blankenbaker store at 1610 Kentucky Mills Drive.
“It was more a matter of we were wanting to put a focus on our two flagship stores,” Wortham said. “It wasn’t like it was bringing us down.”
However, it wasn’t pulling the annual revenues that the Jeffersonville store and River Road stores draw — $3.5 million and $3 million, respectively.
All 30 employees at the Blankenbaker store were offered positions at another KingFish location.
“We are all pretty excited. We don’t want it to look like a negative that we are closing a store,” Wortham said.
The Jeffersonville store got a facelift earlier this year with the creation of On The Rocks, a burger-focused restaurant on the lower outdoor patio at KingFish. The tandem concept gives customers a new option besides its traditional seafood fare.
LouisvilleHalloween.com takes over Caufield’s annual Halloween Parade
This year, the ghouls and goblins shuffling down Baxter Avenue in the annual Halloween Parade will be marching to a different beat. After 10 years, the folks at Caufield’s Novelty have passed parade duties to LouisvilleHalloween.com, a website that curates details of everything Halloween-related going on in town. It’s also got a new name — the Louisville Halloween Parade — and a new date — Friday, Oct. 16. But everything else is pretty much the same.
Tracy Johnson, president of Caufield’s — which was started by her grandfather in 1920 — tells Insider there are no hard feelings on either side, and she’s grateful LouisvilleHalloween.com stepped up to take the reins.
“Because of its extreme growth, it has become harder and harder to manage at such an
extremely busy time for us,” she says. “We are thrilled to pass the torch on to
LouisvilleHalloween.com to keep the tradition going.”
On LouisvilleHalloween.com’s Facebook page, many parade-goers expressed concern of any changes with the event. The site’s manager posted several comments to assure everyone that not much is changing. After their Sept. 15 announcement, they commented: “The parade will be the same parade you’ve grown to love, and Caufield’s Novelty will always be the spiritual heart of the event.” And later, “We LOVE Caufield’s Novelty and are extremely proud to be inheriting an event they put so much TLC into over the years. We promise to honor their commitment to the love of Halloween and hope to do justice to the amazing parade they helped create!” —Sara Havens
Bill Weyland: A brief history of Main Street’s redevelopment
Sometimes there is no reason to tell a story other than the fact that it is truly fascinating.
Last week, IL told you about the Main Street Project Preview Party hosted by the Main Street Association. At the event, developers and company executives detailed several projects under construction along Main Street downtown.
Well-known developer Bill Weyland was there and took the opportunity to lobby for a better state tax credit program. He also spent time reminiscing about his own experiences with development along Main Street.
“I always felt like I was at war with the suburbs,” recalled Weyland, who was drawn to invest in the then-downtrodden Main Street as a young man about 40 years ago.
Weyland, who studied architecture at Notre Dame, said he returned to Louisville and wanted to buy a 40,000-square-foot building in the 600 block of Main Street that was selling for $40,000. Although the price was great, he couldn’t afford it while making $10 an hour as a draftsman.
“It took me 15 years before I was able to buy something on Main Street,” he said.
Several years after buying his first Main Street building, Weyland helped secure a deal that would make Main Street considerably more appealing: He convinced the owners of Hillerich & Bradsby Co. to relocate to 800 W. Main St. where the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory remains today. The company had been headquartered at a 56-acre site in Jeffersonville, Ind., since 1974.
The owners weren’t biting at first, but Weyland was persistent. The company wanted visibility, and so he gave it to them in the form of a 120-foot tall baseball bat.
“Hillerich & Bradsby was so important because they brought a huge amount of absorption to West Main Street and, better yet, a huge amount of business with little baseball bats.”
The museum and factory also led Weyland’s City Properties Group to develop the Glassworks District. The district came to be, he said, because Hillerich & Bradsby needed a loading dock.
They ended up creating a plan to develop the entire block, surrounded by Eighth, Ninth, Market and Main streets. One of those buildings, now condominiums and commercial space, was formerly a Goodwill and minimum security jail.
Before the city sold the building to Weyland, he said, “There were 300 inmates everyday in orange jumpsuits behind some barbed wire, and that is what you saw as you came into downtown Louisville.”
Weyland hasn’t stopped investing in Main Street since. He’s one of several developers working on the multi-million 111 Whiskey Row mixed-use development. —Caitlin Bowling
•Masonic Homes proposes more senior housing: The Masonic Homes of Kentucky wants to add more than 200 senior living units to its Frankfort Avenue campus straddling Crescent Hill and St. Matthews. The nonprofit has filed a request with Metro Planning and Design seeking a necessary conditional use permit; as part of that process, the public is invited to an upcoming meeting to learn more about the proposal, which entails:
- Demolishing part of an existing building to make room for construction of a new 72-unit assisted living facility.
- Constructing a new independent living building as part of the campus’ existing Miralea Active Lifestyle Community. This building would include 120 units and 35,000 square feet of common areas.
The meeting is Thursday, Oct. 1, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Miralea Community on the Masonic Homes campus, 3701 Frankfort Ave.
In a letter sent to adjoining property owners last week, Masonic Homes wrote: “At the meeting, you can learn about the proposed plan and discuss any concerns you may have with Masonic Homes of Kentucky and our representatives. The purpose of this meeting is to increase your understanding of this case early in the process.” —Sarah Kelley
•HR services company expanding in Louisville: ADP — a provider of “cloud-based human capital management solutions” (which essentially means comprehensive HR services) — plans to renovate its 160,000-square-foot facility in Jeffersontown and add 35 new jobs. Overall, the company plans to invest $26 million in the project.
The newly renovated facility will enable ADP to consolidate its Louisville offices to one hub. According to the mayor’s office, the company considered leaving the city and Kentucky altogether, but ultimately decided to stay put and expand here in Louisville. Construction at the J-Town site will begin immediately and take about one year.
In 2012, ADP grew significantly upon acquiring SHPS Inc., a move that expanded the company’s presence in Kentucky to around 950 employees statewide. ADP also has offices in Covington and Lexington. —Sarah Kelley
•Louisville conference looks to build stronger cities: The Kentucky Heritage Council wants to create better cities by tackling issues such as identifying projects with high return on investment, constructing streets to spur economic development, and building a strong tax base.
The council, an agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, has pulled together experts and officials to address topics surrounding community growth and 21st century challenges at its Strong Towns Conference Sept. 24-25 at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. The conference was created by Strong Towns, a nonprofit public policy group based out of Minnesota.
“The current system emphasizes continuous growth instead of resiliency and adaptability. Communities must learn to act incrementally and use realistic, long-term financial analysis to guide spending,” Charles L. Marohn Jr., founder and president of Strong Towns, said in a news release.
Preregister here. The cost is $25 for both days or $35 at the door. —Caitlin Bowling