The Closing Bell: Logan Street Market opening delayed; B-F shares slide; Humana CEO sells $5.9M in stock; Schnatter’s latest letter; and more
Welcome to The Closing Bell. This is your last stop for biz scoops and big news before the weekend — a roundup of stories that can’t wait till Monday.
Logan Street Market sets sights on 2019 open following construction delays
As those involved in the construction industry well know, the likelihood of completing a project without any unexpected speed bumps is small. Therefore, not unexpectedly, the build-out of the Logan Street Market in Shelby Park has hit a few, delaying the opening of the open-air market.
Sarah Height, director of marketing and communications for the project, told Insider Louisville Thursday that construction delays, including permitting and plumbing, have pushed the scheduled opening from this fall into 2019. Logan Street Market, located at 1001 Logan St., is now likely to open sometime in February or March, she said.
Logan Street Market is the brainchild of Mike Safai, the founder of roastery Safai Coffee and owner of the Logan Street building, who wants to bring an experience modeled after Seattle’s Pike Place Market or Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market to Louisville. However, the Louisville market will be quite a bit smaller at 25,000 square feet.
The market already has signed about 20 vendors to one-year lease and has space for roughly eight more, Height said.
Safai told Insider previously that he wants a mix of vendors selling fresh produce, meats, baked goods, prepared food and other items.
The market already has announced that chefs Madeleine Dee and Bapion Ziba will be serving food there. Dee owns Fond on Frankfort Avenue, and Ziba will serve up fare from his native Burkina Faso that includes French, Italian and American influences. Colonel De Herbs & Spices will sell just that, herbs and spices, when Logan Street Market opens, while Nelson & Nahyla’s Kitchen will serve Venezuelan food.
He also wanted to host cooking classes, entertainment, how-to seminars and community-focused events, and although it’s not part of the market, Safai also plans to open a small brewery at the warehouse, allowing people to enjoy a beer while shopping at Logan Street Market.
Work started on Logan Street Market in May. People can sponsor the market — and get swag, including a T-shirt, coffee and access to exclusive events, in return — by donating anywhere from $5 to $1,000. —Caitlin Bowling
Shares of Louisville-based distiller Brown-Forman fell 6 percent Monday and had not recovered by Thursday.
On Monday, shares closed at $50.71, down $3.31 or 6.1 percent from Friday. Shares closed down slightly Thursday, as the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 rose, at $50.27.
According to the Motley Fool, short-term minded investors were troubled by comments from an analyst at Jefferies, who gave the stock a hold rating and worried about the distiller’s growth prospects. —Boris Ladwig
Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard just sold about 20 percent of his stake in the Louisville-based insurer, netting him about $5.9 million.
According to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the C-suite executive on Sept. 10 sold 18,000 shares at an average transaction price of $328.66. Following the sale, he still owns 71,085 shares.
Humana’s shares have gained about 34 percent for the year. The S&P 500 is up less than 8 percent. —Boris Ladwig
Under the tabloid-esque headline “What Are They Hiding? Day 56 — no documents,” Papa John’s founder John Schnatter asked franchisees and employees Wednesday to call Papa John’s CEO Steve Ritchie and tell him to give Schnatter “the documents we requested so we can put this behind us and get back to our winning ways.”
Following his ousting as board chairman (for reasons you can find recapped here), Schnatter filed a lawsuit in the state of Delaware in late July in an effort to compel Papa John’s executives to hand over communications between the company’s counsel and directors, any letters related to the hiring legal firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, documents related to alleged sexual misconduct, and meeting minutes and materials from Papa John’s Special Committee dealing with the fallout of Schnatter’s racially charged comments, among others.
In Wednesday’s letter, Schnatter questioned a possible motive for not releasing the requested documents.
“I can only assume they are hiding information that would expose their real motivation or possible misconduct. I have fully complied with the Board’s requests for documents and turned them over promptly after being asked. Why do they refuse to provide me their documents? What are the CEO and the Papa John’s board of directors hiding?” he wrote.
In an emailed statement, Papa John’s said:
We have already provided John Schnatter all of the materials he is entitled to as a director and will not be distracted by his misstatements, words and actions. There is nothing he’s entitled to that he hasn’t already received. This is being dealt with through the appropriate legal channels.
We are making significant progress in our work to move the Company forward. We remain focused on these efforts and serving the best interests of our 120,000 corporate and franchise team members, shareholders, customers and other stakeholders.
Schnatter stated in his letter that he is invested in the performance of the company similar to franchisees and employees. He owns a 30 percent stake in the pizza chain.
“Unlike other Board members, you and I cannot just walk away from Papa John’s — they can, and they are doing catastrophic damage to the brand and they’re going to leave us holding the bag. I want to protect the Company itself and its value to our shareholders and franchisees,” he wrote. “If the other Board members acted appropriately, there should be nothing to hide. … By withholding documents, one can only assume they are hiding devious motives and misconduct with respect to Delaware law.”
In the letter, Schnatter also referenced and attached a recent ruling by Delaware court Chancellor Andre Bouchard, who he says is also overseeing his case against Papa John’s, arguing that it bolsters his case by citing precedent that directors should have “unfettered” access to information, including privileged materials.
However, in the ruling, which involved a now-settled dispute between CBS Corp. and National Amusements Inc., Bouchard only partially granted NAI’s request for documents. A request for communications between CBS counsel and any CBS officer or director related to aiding the work of Special Committees was denied. —Caitlin Bowling
Louisville hot chicken chain Joella’s Hot Chicken is, you might say, developing its restaurant in reverse.
Usually, the food truck comes first, then the brick-and-mortar store, then the expansion. But Joella’s already has four locations in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, with two more expected to open in Indiana this fall, and it’s only now that the restaurant chain plans to launch a mobile operation.
Joella’s parent company, the Schulte Restaurant Group, which bought the concept from founder Tony Palombino in 2017, announced its plans in a news release. The food truck will hit the road in late September for festivals and other events in Louisville, Cincinnati, Lexington, Indianapolis and other nearby areas, the release states.
Simultaneously, the restaurant group revealed a new menu item that is something you’d expect to see a chain like Taco Bell, which drives customers to its stores with interesting new offerings. The new Joella’s dish is called the “Cluck Cone” and is a savory waffle cone filled with alternating layers of creamy macaroni and cheese, bits of chicken tenders and dipping sauce, all topped with a pickle slice.
The “Cluck Cone” will be sold for $6.99 and for six weeks only in stores, though the company said in the release that it will be a permanent staple on the food truck. Similar to other Joella’s dishes, the chicken tenders can be one of six spice levels: Traditional Southern, Spiked Honey, Ella’s Fave, Tweener, Hot and “Fire-in-Da-Hole.”
“Joella’s has steadily grown to six restaurants since it first opened its flagship store in 2015,” Christina Happel, regional vice president of operations for Schulte Restaurant Group, said in a news release. “New, inventive menu items like the Cluck Cone and the food truck are great examples of the fun, laid-back atmosphere at Joella’s. We’re excited to reach current and potential customers in such a unique way.” —Caitlin Bowling
After closing its New Albany, Ind., store in March, local ice cream company The Comfy Cow announced this week that has left the Southern Indiana market.
The company stated in a Facebook post:
We are sad to announce the closing of our Jeffersonville store. The Comfy Cow has decided to scale back to focus on our core stores to ensure we have the best product, service, and staff for our customers. We have enjoyed our years in Indiana and appreciate all of the loyal customers we have earned. Please continue to get our crazy good ice cream at our five remaining Louisville stores. Thank you for your love, Indiana
The Comfy Cow noted in a separate comment that the Jeffersonville store had been a franchise location and wasn’t profitable. In March, owner Chip Hamm told Insider that The Comfy Cow in New Albany was shuttered in the hopes of having “one strong store” in Southern Indiana.
One Facebook commenter noted that he loved The Comfy Cow ice cream but gave up going because the scoop shop he went to didn’t have his family’s favorite flavors available. The business seemingly continued to have inventory problems ever since spring 2017 when its main ice-cream-making machine broke down for a while. The company has since outsourced its ice cream production to an unnamed company. —Caitlin Bowling
The University of Louisville is unveiling its UofL Athletics Broadcast Center on Monday. Until the ACC Network launches in 2019, the studio will produce live programming for ESPN and ACC Network Extra, the university said.
Kentucky-based accounting firm Dean Dorton Allen Ford has launched Dean Dorton Wealth Management, led by longtime employee, CPA David Parks.
Bus and motor coach maker New Flyer on Monday opened its 300,000-square-foot parts fabrication facility in Shepherdsville. The St. Cloud, Minn.-based company had said late last year that it planned to invest $28 million in Kentucky and create 550 jobs in and around Shepherdsville at full capacity, which is expected by the end of next year.