The Closing Bell: Main Street building hits the market; local fast-casual pizza chain growing; Pizza Hut still has room for improvement; 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.
Main Street building hits the market
A downtown building, best known these days as the home to Los Aztecas Mexican Grill, is for sale.
The five-story building at 530 W. Main St. was recently listed for $1.95 million by the real estate agent Scott Howe. Insider reached out to Howe multiple times for more information about the property but did not hear back.
The real estate listing pitches the building as possibly “the last opportunity here for a very long time.” It also notes that the second floor includes a “massive historic bar;” the second through fifth floors are partly gutted for renovation, and the first floor houses a restaurant tenant, Los Aztecas, which doesn’t have a long-term lease.
It is unclear if Los Aztecas intends to move or close, or if the listing is simply letting potential buyers know that they can opt not to renew the lease.
The building is located across the street from the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts and near Museum Row, among other attractions.
Similar to other buildings along Main Street downtown, the one at 530 W. Main St. is more than 130 years old. The Property Valuation Administrator’s office lists its origin year as 1880 and its assessed value at $970,000.
The building owner Gregory Anastas also owns the local Beverage Warehouse stores. Insider has reached out Anastas to see why he is selling the building but did not hear back. —Caitlin Bowling
A Louisville couple, Bella Portaro Kueber and Rick Kueber, are making their first foray into the Louisville restaurant scene with their third Topp’t Pizza & Chopped Salad location.
The pair opened the fast-casual pizzeria and salad shop in Elizabethtown, Ky., in November 2015, followed by a second location off Charlestown Road in New Albany in July 2016. Early next year, the Keubers are slated to open a Topp’t near the University of Louisville at 323 W. Cardinal Blvd., formerly Griff’s sports bar and restaurant.
(Speaking of, Griff’s downtown location at the corner of Second and Liberty streets, looks like it may finally open soon — after the owners repeatedly pushed the timeline back — as job postings for servers, cooks, bartenders and other positions were posted on Oct. 11.)
Back to Topp’t, Rick Kueber told Insider that he hopes to open in early January, but it will depend on how quickly they can staff up to about 30 employees, given that students will be on winter break.
“We will see what the local pool looks like and make a determination,” he said.
The restaurant will seat around 90 people and consist of mostly two-person tabletops because, Kueber said, they expect many students to come in alone on class breaks. They also expect a good amount of carry-out business and will have a cooler of premade salads.
“We know students are on the move,” he said.
Hours of operation at the Cardinal Boulevard location will be different from those of its other stores. Although they aren’t set, Kueber said, Topp’t would likely stay open until midnight, possibly later on weekends, and close around 10 p.m. during the week. That’s still fluid, however.
“The good thing is we can change it on the fly,” he said. —Caitlin Bowling
Pizza Hut’s turnaround is moving slower than anticipated, Yum Brands leaders told analysts, but they are still bullish on the brand.
Yum CEO Greg Creed said the company has found the right price point for Pizza Hut menu items but not all franchisees are at the price point and the marketing is not “distinctive enough to attract new customers.” He added that the quality of Pizza Hut’s food and its delivery times are improving.
“I personally feel that we just got to do a better job of communicating this compelling value,” Creed said. “We’ve got a new agency, they’re onboard,” he said of GSD&M.
“The team is all over it, and I think you will see us going forward with what I’ll call sharper and more distinctive advertising and communication around this compelling value that we offer.”
Although Pizza Hut is the new pizza sponsor of the NFL, the third quarter would see little impact from that, as the quarter ended Sept. 30 — just three weeks into the NFL season.
The pizza chain’s same-store sales declined 1 percent during the third quarter of 2018, while its sister brands KFC and Taco Bell reported 3 percent and 5 percent increases during the quarter.
“We remain confident that we are going to deliver on our transformation to be more focused, more franchised and more efficient, all of which will deliver more growth,” Creed said of all Yum’s brands.
Yum’s total revenue dropped 3 percent, to $1.4 billion, during the third quarter compared to a year ago, and its net income rose 9 percent, to $454 million. Diluted earning per share increased 18 percent, to $1.40, for the quarter.
The company’s shares closed Thursday down 2.7 percent, at $87.97. —Caitlin Bowling
Louisville-based wealth management firm Hilliard Lyons said it recorded record growth in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, with total assets rising 6 percent, to $51 billion.
The company also added 27 investment advisers and now has 383 in 12 states. Hilliard Lyons also opened three new branches, one in Akron, Ohio, and two near Pittsburgh, and it expanded locations in Nashville and Asheville.
CEO Jim Allen said in a news release that the growth was a result of the rising stock market and the hard work of employees.
“This past fiscal year has been very gratifying for Hilliard Lyons,” Allen said.
Allen recently was named chair of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a trade organization. —Boris Ladwig
Adding to its experience of being the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center, Frazier History Museum has partnered up with Miller Transportation to offer half-day distillery tours every day of the week. The Miller Bourbon Tours started Nov. 1, just in time for the Breeders’ Cup crowd.
For $75 a person, you’ll be whisked off to a whiskey distillery at 1 p.m. and return around 5:15 p.m. That price includes admission to the Frazier Museum and its bourbon-centered “The Spirit of Kentucky” exhibit, round-trip luxury transportation, a guided distillery tour, a tasting and light refreshments.
Destination distilleries include Maker’s Mark (Mondays), Woodford Reserve (Tuesdays and Thursdays), Wild Turkey (Wednesdays), Four Roses (Fridays), Jim Beam (Saturdays) and Heaven Hill (Sundays). Additional trips to Buffalo Trace and Jeptha Creed will be offered soon as well.
All reservations should be made online. —Sara Havens
The utilities have asked for permission to raise electric and gas customers’ rates by about $9 per month to recover $2.2 billion in investments they plan to complete through October of next year to reduce power failures and gas service interruptions.
Louisville Metro Government last week filed a motion to intervene in the case, saying in a news release that it is possibly the largest LG&E customer with annual expenses exceeding $17 million.
“This rate case will impact every household in our city, and it comes at a time when our city is also weighing the potential for an MSD rate increase necessary to ensure the future of our outdated flood protection system,” Mayor Greg Fischer said in the release. “It’s important that Metro Government has a seat at the table in this discussion, so we can better understand LG&E’s needs while also advocating for our citizens.”
The PSC has yet to rule on the city’s request. Other requests, from parties including the Kentucky School Boards Association and Walmart, are pending, too. The commission already has granted similar motions, including from the Kentucky Industrial Utilities Consumers and the Kentucky Attorney General.
The city of Louisville is being represented by Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell and law firm Sturgill, Turner, Barker and Maloney, which is jointly representing Lexington Fayette County Urban County Government as well. —Boris Ladwig
The new owners of Barkstown Road have renamed the canine goods store Southern Barker, the name of their Lexington location, and changed store hours. Hours of operation at the Bonnycastle Avenue and Frankfort Avenue locations are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Bonnycastle is open noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, while Frankfort is open 1 to 6 p.m.
The historic Brown Hotel, a AAA Four Diamond hotel, was named 13th on a list of top hotels in the South by Conde Nast Traveler, and 21c Museum Hotel garnered the 15th spot on the list.