The Closing Bell: Top retail and culture stories of 2017

Welcome to The Closing Bell. This is a roundup of our top retail and culture stories of 2017.

Goss Ave. Pub closing at end of business today, owner confirms (May 30, 2017)

Sarino is a casual Italian eatery. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Co-owners Pat Hagan and Beau Kerley ruffled some feathers when they closed and sold Goss Ave. Pub.

The bar and restaurant had opened less than six months prior after the pair decided to scrap the Germantown Craft House and try a new concept at 1030 Goss Ave. Hagan and Kerley also had closed the Bluegrass Brewing Company in St. Matthews. All the closures came with little notice.

Hagan told Insider at the time that they had hoped to remain open until the building officially sold, but it was hard to keep employees once word got out about the impending sale.

The site has since been transformed into Sarino, a casual Italian restaurant owned by Carmelo and Michael Gabriele, the sons of Vincenzo’s chef and co-owner Agostino Gabriele. The restaurant opened on Dec. 19 for its first dinner service. The menu includes house-made pastas, Neapolitan pizzas and cheese and charcuterie plates.

Its hours of operation are 5 p.m.-midnight, Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 5-9 p.m. Sunday. —Caitlin Bowling

Maker’s Mark Distillery is now home to six breathtaking Dale Chihuly installations (June 29, 2017)

“Summer Sun” by Dale Chihuly | Photo by Sara Havens

Insider was invited on the first official media tour of the new Dale Chihuly glass exhibit at the Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Ky., which opened July 1 and ended, sadly, on Dec. 3. The six breathtaking pieces were hand-selected by the world-renowned artist and installed by his team.

The exhibit far exceeded what the Maker’s staff had expected, and its visitor numbers jumped 40 percent during the run.

Rob Samuels, the chief operating officer of Maker’s and an eighth-generation whiskey maker, led the media tour of the distillery and explained that he and his daughter had been fans of Chihuly’s work for years, and he decided to write the artist a personal note inviting him to the distillery.

In 2014, Chihuly created “The Spirit of the Maker” piece, which is a permanent fixture at the distillery, and vowed to return with a temporary exhibit.

“Creating our handmade bourbon isn’t a job — it’s an art form,” said Samuels. “It’s an honor to have formed such a lasting relationship with Dale Chihuly.” —Sara Havens

Demo Day: Phoenix Hill Tavern bites the dust (Jan. 6, 2017)

Gone but not forgotten. | Photo by Sara Havens

It was a sad couple of winter months for those commuters who had to drive by the old Phoenix Hill Tavern as it was being dismantled brick by brick to make way for a $50 million mixed-use housing complex.

Although just about all of the memorabilia already had been sold via Wardlow Auctions, seeing one of the city’s most infamous nightclubs transform into a pile of debris was disturbing.

In this piece, the writer shared some photos of the tragic construction scene and also some memories of the spot from its glory days. She wrote:

“Some of you heard My Morning Jacket and the Velcro Pygmies for the first time there; some of you fell down the stairs; some of you hung your bras from the big fan in the Saloon; some of you made friends with the bathroom attendant; some of you got engaged; and some of you broke up in the Roof Garden.”

The Baxter, as the new building is being called, will feature 260 apartments and 32,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor. It’s slated to be complete this summer.

Long live the memories, PHT. —Sara Havens

Zanzabar owners mixing laundry, arcade games and drinks into ‘weird’ concept called Bar of Soap (Nov. 8, 2017)

In 2013, the Wettig brother purchased the building just across Lynn Street from Zanzabar. | Courtesy of Jefferson County PVA

Readers were curious about a business concept coming to Louisville — a bar/arcade/laundromat. While the concept itself isn’t new, Bar of Soap will possibly the first of its kind in Louisville.

The owners of Zanzabar bought 2070 S. Preston St. back in 2013 but didn’t file paperwork to renovate it until this fall. Antz and Jon Wettig applied for a zoning change in early November to open Bar of Soap, but the case has not moved forward since.

Zoning changes often take several months to move through the approvals process.

Antz Wettig told Insider that Bar of Soap would feature late ’70s decor with ’80s arcade games. It will offer a larger variety of arcade games than Zanzabar and rare games, he said. —Caitlin Bowling

‘We’re deeply disappointed’: Clifton Center to close at the end of 2017 (April 22, 2017)

Goodbye, Clifton Center. | Courtesy of Clifton Center

Insider first shared the news last spring that the Clifton Center would be closing after 22 years of operation when its current building and theater, at 2117 Payne St., was being reclaimed by its owner, the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Clifton Center Board of Directors Chairman Don Burch told Insider in April, “We’re deeply disappointed that this exceptional venue is coming to an end.”

The building will be renamed the Holy Trinity-Clifton Campus and include a Catholic elementary school for children with language-based learning differences.

In a farewell email sent just last week to Clifton Center supporters, Burch said Holy Trinity would continue to lease space to many the long-standing tenants, and the theater and reception hall could be rented out for community events.

“The Center’s contribution to this community as a catalyst for neighborhood development has been huge,” said Burch in the email. “But even more significant is the impact the Center has had on the lives and hearts of the people who came to share in the arts, culture and ideas that have enriched us all.”

Insider reached out to Ann Drury, who worked for the Clifton Center as manager of client relations and will serve as the building manager at Holy Trinity, and she confirmed that the Clifton Center concept — music programming, concerts, etc. — would no longer exist after Jan. 1. —Sara Havens

Viral Facebook post calls out Boombozz for failed health inspection (July 12, 2017)

Boombozz Craft Pizza and Taphouse in the Highlands is located at Bardstown Road and Eastern Parkway. | Courtesy of Boombozz Facebook

Back in July, a person took to Facebook to air some grievances about Boombozz Craft Pizza and Taphouse in the Highlands, but it turned out that viral post was more fib than fact, according to the restaurant owner and city health department.

The post, which was shared more than 2,000 times, claimed that employees were serving food to customers when fecal water was backing up in the kitchen. A disgruntled former employee allegedly used photos taken when the restaurant was closed and Dauenhauer Plumbing was fixing clogged floor drains.

“We sincerely apologize to all of our guests who have been falsely informed about this situation. We would like to reiterate that at no time was there ever any sewage in our kitchen, and at no time were we open for business while this work was being performed,” the franchisee group that owns the Boombozz location in the Highlands stated in an online post.

The health department backed up the restaurant owners, saying the claims made in the viral post were inaccurate.

The pizzeria was most recently inspected on Dec. 13. It received an A grade with a score of 93. —Caitlin Bowling

Eastern Cemetery documentary ‘Facing East’ aims to finally tell the full story (Jan. 17, 2017)

Eastern Cemetery | Photo by Kevin Gibson

The long, despairing story of Eastern Cemetery finally was told in February with the release of “Facing East,” a documentary produced by Paul Coffey and told largely in interviews.

The documentary had been in the works for some time, and the hoped-for early 2017 release date came and went, culminating in a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to finish it. That effort launched in June, with the $1,200 goal finally being reached near the end of the year.

The story dates back to the 1800s, when victims of a cholera epidemic were buried in mass pauper graves. Graves were reused off and on through the years, creating a situation that finally came to a head in 1989 when an employee of the Louisville Crematories and Cemetery Company blew the whistle on the years of mismanagement in the over-buried cemetery, which contains about 16,000 graves but has records for roughly 138,000 bodies.

Andy Harpole of Friends of Eastern Cemetery has worked with Coffey to get the documentary done so the full story can finally be told. Coffey announced on Facebook in early October that the documentary was “coming soon.”

He said earlier this week via text that he is hoping for a spring release, explaining that the process of getting the film finished and released was more extensive that anticipated. But an announcement should be forthcoming. —Kevin Gibson

Parlour Pizza announces it will open in Jeffersonville on Wednesday, April 5 (April 3, 2017)

Parlour Pizza is just over the Big Four Bridge. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

A new pizza joint opened in April in Jeffersonville, Ind., at the foot of the Big Four Bridge, creating a buzz that still hasn’t quite died down.

The unique indoor/outdoor restaurant called Parlour Pizza is set in the historic Duffy-Hancock House, built in 1836 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This is part of what makes the place cozy and garnered it good reviews. In general, the place is designed for socialization, with a cozy interior blended with a more modern feel in an adjacent beer garden.

Ten thin-crust pizzas make up most of the menu, with a small garage providing bar food service and a fine array of craft beers. The place was overrun during Abbey Road on the River’s first year in Jeffersonville, and the bridge traffic should only make it more and more of a destination as it approaches its first full year in business. —Kevin Gibson

Monkey Wrench to close its doors following April 1 farewell bash (Jan. 17, 2017)

The now-defunct Monkey Wrench | Courtesy of Monkey Wrench

Much of Louisville mourned when longtime owner of the Monkey Wrench, Dennie Humphrey, announced in January that the beloved spot on the edge of the Highlands and Germantown would close on April 1.

“What an amazing run it has been,” Humphrey said in his announcement to the public. “As I think back to all the great friendships made within these walls, my heart explodes with joy. I would just like to ask, if you’re in the area, stop in and give me a hug, because this time at The Wrench will truly be missed.”

Humphrey moved on to open a jazz club downtown called Jimmy Can’t Dance, located in the basement of Another Place Sandwich Shop at 119 S. Seventh St., partnering with Brian Goodwin, owner of the latter. The new digs have proved to be a popular new night spot, giving jazz a new life downtown.

Meanwhile, after sitting dormant for most of 2017, Monkey Wrench is about to get new life. The owners of V-Grits Food Co. will partner with local brewer Shawn Steele to open a combination vegan eatery and brewery in early 2018. —Kevin Gibson

El Camino finds new home on Goss Avenue (Feb. 3, 2017)

The former Yesternook site as it looked on Dec. 28. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Early this year, Insider reported on a multifaceted change in the local restaurant and retail scenes.

Yesternook antique store owners Lynn and Eric Gould sold their Goss Avenue site and relocated to the corner of Oak and Logan streets, the former home of Smoketown USA barbecue restaurant.

Smoketown USA, which the Goulds also ran, closed in 2016, but the Goulds still owned the building, so they moved Yesternook there.

Meanwhile, the Goss Avenue site was sold to the partners of Bahe Cook Cantley & Nefzger PLC, who plan to open their law offices in the former Yesternook. Despite taking possession of the building more than 10 months ago, the law firm is still operating out of an office downtown while renovations continue on the property at 1031-1041 Goss Ave.

Shawn Cantley told Insider in a text that the law firm will move in on Feb. 1. Work is expected to begin on a new space for the Mexican restaurant and tiki bar El Camino at the same site sometime this spring, he said.

El Camino is owned in part by Shawn and Vanessa Cantley, partners in the law firm. The restaurant closed in 2016, and its former Highlands spot became The Eagle—Caitlin Bowling