Welcome to the Aug. 31 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Tenant named for old Spindletop Draperies building in the Highlands


The front of what soon will be HopCat on Bardstown Road | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Finally, we know what’s going into the former Spindletop Draperies building, a prime piece of real estate in one of the busiest stretches of the Highlands: HopCat, a new bar and restaurant, is expected to open there sometime next year.

If you’ve driven down Bardstown Road near Grinstead Drive anytime in the past week, it’s difficult to miss the heavy construction taking place at 1064 Bardstown Road. Work started early last week once lease agreements were finalized between Nashville-based property owner Priam Ventures and Michigan-based Barfly Ventures, which owns four bar and restaurant concepts, including HopCat.

Construction is underway | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Construction on HopCat is underway | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

HopCat has a heavy craft beer focus. There are six HopCat locations in the United States, and each has 100 or more beers on tap.

Yes, I said on tap. That doesn’t even include bottled beers.

HopCat also serves a broad variety of food from its full-service kitchen including soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches and appetizers. Each store is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

Chris Knape, marketing director for Barfly Ventures, declined to comment on the Louisville site specifically. However, he said: “Every place we go we try to create a hub for craft beer.” HopCat doesn’t serve any Miller Brewing Co., Anheuser–Busch or Coors Brewing Co. products, he added.

For anyone who wants to get a taste of what HopCat is like: A location is opening at 410 W. Short St. in Lexington in October. The Lexington location will include beers from Kentucky breweries and its own small brewery where HopCat will craft its own special brews. The only other HopCat with a brewery is the original store in Grand Rapids, Mich., Knape said.

“It gives us the opportunity to do unique stuff in house,” he said.

Priam Ventures partner Andy Stone said his company started conversations with Barfly Ventures about three months ago after receiving considerable interest from a variety of businesses through Justin Baker, a partner with Louisville-based real estate firm TRIO Commercial Property Group LLC.

“HopCat has the operations experience. They understand the goals of an adaptive reuse strategy,” Stone said. “They share that vision with us.”

HopCat will take over the whole building, nearly 12,000 square feet. Priam Ventures also is constructing an upstairs balcony for additional seating and will construct an outdoor patio on the side of the building.

Insider Louisville reported last year that Priam Ventures bought the property for $1.65 million and plans to invest $2 million into renovating it. The company originally planned to turn the one-story building into two stories with offices above and a retail or restaurant tenant below, but after connecting with HopCat, Priam altered its plans.

“It is a great building, great bones,” Stone said. “We have had nothing but positive experiences.”

He added that Priam Ventures is actively looking for more investment properties in Louisville. — Caitlin Bowling

Taylorsville Road Kroger to become marketplace store, offer online ordering

The Kroger Co. plans to turn its store on Taylorsville Road into a marketplace store like the one pictured. | File Photo

The Kroger Co. plans to turn its store on Taylorsville Road into a marketplace store like the one pictured. | File Photo

The Kroger Co. plans to transform its store at Tyler Retail Center on Taylorsville Road into a marketplace location and add online ordering services at that store.

The Cincinnati-based company’s marketplace stores not only offer a wider variety of food products but also sell clothing, small appliances and other household items not found at its traditional locations.

Planning documents filed with Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government show plans to expand the existing store at 12611 Taylorsville Road, near Interstate 265. The location would grow from 64,350 square feet to 116,781 square feet.

In addition to expanding the store, Kroger will add a 6,600-square-foot outlot for a retail business, two new pumps to its existing gas station, more parking spaces, and a “clicklist pickup area” with either four or eight parking spots for customers picking up online orders.

The Lexington Herald Leader reported Thursday that a Kroger store in Versailles, Ky. became the first to offer online ordering. Customers simply have to pick-up their groceries from the Kroger and take them home. An employee will even load them into customers’ vehicles.

A Kroger representative told the Herald Leader the company would add online ordering to six more stores this year, though Louisville wasn’t mentioned. However, it looks like online ordering will come to Louisville next year.

Kroger has requested four waivers for the project and will go before the Louisville’s Development Review Committee on Sept. 2. —Caitlin Bowling

Are anti-LGBT rights policies hurting Kentucky Farm Bureau’s bottom line?

A multi-year protest campaign against Kentucky Farm Bureau’s anti-LGBT rights policy statements was launched into headlines last week when three activists were arrested for silently standing in protest at the insurance company’s annual ham breakfast at the state fair.

KFBLogoBluePrior to the arrests, the Fairness Campaign and ACLU of Kentucky sent out a press release suggesting the protests have hurt the bottom line of KFB, noting the state’s largest property and casualty insurance provider’s membership has declined by over 34,000 since the campaign to highlight their policies began in 2012.

Among the statements in KFB’s policy booklet are their views against same-sex marriage, state agencies “providing benefits to ‘domestic’ partners,” and public schools teaching “alternative lifestyles.” The Fairness Campaign has argued that farmers’ insurance payments are unwittingly going into the Frankfort lobbying arm of KFB, which promotes conservative causes that have nothing to do with advancing their agricultural interests.

“Even though we’ve not asked people to drop their Farm Bureau insurance, we know lots of Farm Bureau holders over the years we’ve been doing this protest that have been switching their insurance,” says Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman, who was one of the protesters arrested for “failing to disperse” last week.

That membership decline (though not the cause of it) is borne out by information listed in KFB’s annual policy booklets. Their total membership was 470,934 in 2010, rising to over 500,000 by 2012, when the Fairness Campaign began an aggressive campaign against these policies. In their 2015 booklet, they indicate 466,792 members – altogether suggesting there is not a longterm decrease in membership that would explain the decline.

Kentucky Farm Bureau spokesman Dan Smaldone did not respond to an email and voicemail asking if the protests are to blame for the membership decline, and whether there has been any internal discussion of excising policy positions on social, non-agricultural issues.

Hartman added that KFB’s promotion of socially conservative issues is unique among farm insurance providers in Kentucky, as “Nationwide doesn’t have these policies. State Farm doesn’t have them… there are plenty of national insurance providers that just don’t have these types of policies.”

State Farm spokesman Kip Diggs confirmed to IL that the insurance company makes a conscious effort not to wade into such issues, instead focusing on issues that relate to their services.

“We believe elected officials are best suited to deal with legislation governing cultural and societal issues,” said Diggs. “State Farm limits its participation in the legislative process to issues impacting our customers’ and associates’ interests in insurance and financial services, and the communities in which we do business. State Farm complies with the law regarding domestic partners, civil unions and marriages. We treat every customer as an individual with unique insurance needs.” —Joe Sonka

Arrow Food expands service, adds new restaurants — plus delivery ice cream!

Arrow Food Couriers, the “lightning fast” food delivery service, recently expanded its operation and added five new restaurants to its delivery options.

With one call, you can place an order at one of nearly two dozen neighborhood restaurants that don’t deliver, and Arrow will pick it up and deliver it to you in one of its delightfully cute Smart Cars.

The new restaurant additions are BBC St. Matthews, Epic Sammich, Funmi’s Cafe and Annie May’s Sweet Cafe. And because delivery is so fast, they’ve also added Schnitzelberg’s DairyDel to the list — delivery ice cream!

In addition, Arrow recently expanded its service into the Audubon Park and St. Matthews neighborhoods. —Melissa Chipman

Frankfort Avenue record store moving to Highlands, expanding

The new home of Modern Cult Records

Modern Cult Records’ new home | Photo by Sarah Kelley

Records have experienced a resurgence in recent years.

Maybe younger generations have only recently discovered Stephen Frears’ movie “High Fidelity.” No matter, much like the cult classic film, records today have quite the following.

That’s likely why Modern Cult Records closed its store at 2001 Frankfort Ave. and is re-opening on Nov. 1 in a larger space at 1036 Bardstown Road, which formerly housed Woodstock Antiques. The antique shop moved to Middletown Peddler’s Mall.

The Bardstown Road location, next to Holy Grale, will allow the record store to expand its LP, record, cassette and CD collections as well as offer customers more books, turntables and stereo equipment, according to a Facebook post by Modern Cult co-owner Sean Liter.

The new store will will allow them to add stereo repair services and continue hosting all-age shows, the post states. Liter did not return messages for comment before press time. — Caitlin Bowling

New products headed to Long John Silver’s in 2016

Long John Silver's will focus on its core menu this year before introducing new products in 2016. | Courtesy of Long John Silver's

Long John Silver’s will focus on its core menu this year before introducing new products in 2016. | Courtesy of Long John Silver’s

With the recent hire of a VP of culinary innovation, Louisville-based seafood chain Long John Silver’s is looking to inject some excitement into its menu.

Peter Czizek started in the aforementioned role about four weeks ago after spending time in similar roles at Applebee’s, Dave & Buster’s and Romano’s Macaroni Grill, among others. Fun fact: Czizek helped open the Macaroni Grill store that sits across the street from Long John Silver’s headquarters off South Hurstbourne Parkway about 20 years ago.

Now Czizek’s task is to find ways to improve Long John Silver’s menu staples such as fried Alaskan pollock, hushpuppies and other sides, as well as create and test new menu items.

“There is a huge opportunity to look at seafood flavor profiles that are coming from Europe or Asia where they eat a lot more seafood,” he tells Insider Louisville. “(Americans today) are exposed to a lot more, different flavors, and so I think we have an opportunity to try that.”

Don’t expect Long John Silver’s to start serving up fish Asian-style with the head on, Czizek said — at least not anytime soon.

Introducing new products is a stepping stone process. The company may look at Cajun recipes from Louisiana and fish tacos from the West Coast, he said, “before pushing out to some of the crazier stuff out there.”

Consumers can expect to see new products introduced to Long John Silver’s menu in 2016, Czizek said. “Bigger, bolder flavors is what you can look forward to seeing.”

No word on when or what the new products might be, however. Among a list of ideas written on a white board in Czizek’s office — and disclaimer, they are only ideas right now — were items such as shrimp wontons, lobster mac & cheese bites and tater tot fish nuggets.

Until 2016, the innovation team at LJS will continue to focus on its core menu items, he said.

“They are great now, but how do we make them better?” Czizek said. “We have some inherently very healthy products, especially our core pollack product. It is sustainably fished out of the Bering Sea of Alaska, and there are no fillers.”

“We have great quality, and I think we need to talk about that more.”

Long John Silver’s is a privately owned company with more than 1,100 franchisee-owned restaurants. The owners include Rick Duffy, adviser for the advertising firm Scoppechio, and prominent Louisville attorney Ed Glasscock, among others. Last year, they tried unsuccessfully to sell the company. Starting this year, the company leaders regrouped, hired a CEO and other top executives, and are looking to reinvigorate the brand. — Caitlin Bowling

Attention aspiring entrepreneurs: Startup Weekend coming soon

Everybody’s favorite potentially life-changing startup event returns in October for its seventh incarnation. Startup Weekend Louisville will hit Velocity on Oct. 9-11. For around 54 hours, people from all walks of life — entrepreneurs, product developers, designers, makers, students, artists, engineers, marketers and inventors — will gather to try to create viable startups.

Startup Weekend Louisville is also one of the most affordable tech/geek/entrepreneur gatherings in the city. Prices are even lower if you’re a developer or a designer (they’re in high demand during the event). When combined with an Early Bird discount, some tickets for Startup Weekend Louisville are available through Sept. 11 for as little as $29. That includes your food, snacks, beverages and probably a T-shirt.

To learn more about how Startup Weekend works — the event is held in hundreds of cities, worldwide — visit the Startup Weekend HQ page. —Melissa Chipman

PNC Broadway in Louisville breaks season ticket sales record

The_Kentucky_Center_for_the_Performing_ArtsCongrats to our friends over at PNC Broadway in Louisville for breaking its season subscription record for the 2015-2016 season with over 11,600 season ticket holders. The previous record was set in 1993 with just a little over 11,000 season ticket holders.

The organization has been bringing Broadway shows to Louisville for more than 30 years with its partner, the nonprofit Louisville Theatre Association. Since its inception, the Louisville series has presented over 300 weeks of theater and nearly 2,500 performances. PNC Bank became title sponsors of the series in 1993.

“Every year we put together a line-up of shows that we hope will appeal to our broad audience base. Clearly we struck a chord with our 15 – 16 line-up and are enormously grateful to our season-ticket holders for their support and confidence in the quality of the coming season,” said Leslie K. Broecker, President, PNC Broadway in Louisville.  — Melissa Chipman

Louisville Film Commission tempts film professionals with bourbon

The newly formed Louisville Film Commission recently released a short video featuring lots of local celebs talking about why Louisville is an awesome place to shoot your film. It’s short and fun. No Jennifer Lawrence, alas, but everyone’s favorite “creepy Ethan from ‘Lost,'” William Mapother, makes a long-distance appearance.

We hear there’s a newish opening for the moniker “Hollywood of the South.” New Orleans/Louisiana in general got a nice economic boost when they offered some of the most generous film incentives in North America. New Orleans really was the “Hollywood of the South” there for a little while… until a certain struggling presidential candidate pulled the plug on a lot of those perks.

Time for us to slide on in … — Melissa Chipman


Brown-Forman to release first 100-proof Old Fo’ Birthday Bourbon

Happy Birthday, George!

Happy Birthday, George!

To commemorate Old Forester founder George Garvin Brown’s birthday each year, Brown-Forman releases the highly sought-after Birthday Bourbon each September (Brown’s birthday is Sept. 2). This year, the 12-year-old small batch bourbon is bottled at 100 proof for the first time in the release’s 14-year history.

Also different this year is the fact that each barrel of the limited release matured in the same warehouse — near the same location. Master distiller Chris Morris explains more precisely in the press release where the barrels were located:

“The lot aged near a window and close to a heat cycling duct, exposing all of the barrels to very high temperatures, resulting in the very robust, intense wood-derived characteristics exhibited by this exceptional vintage.”

The bourbon was selected from a single day of production (June 13, 2003) and comes in a classy decanter-style bottle. Start looking for Old Forester Birthday Bourbon to hit shelves in a week or two. The suggested retail price is $69.99-$79.99. —Sara Havens

Pizza Hut drivers allege they weren’t given their share of the dough

pizza-hutYou got to treat your delivery drivers with respect. Or you just might end up getting sued.

IL reported earlier this month that Louisville-based pizza chain Papa John’s International Inc. will pay out $12.3 million in a settlement after facing charges that it did not reimburse its delivery drivers for vehicle expenses.

Now another national pizza company with Louisville ties is facing legal action from some of its drivers.

The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y., reported that two former delivery drivers are suing Pizza Hut Inc., a subsidiary of Louisville-based Yum! Brands Inc.

The drivers allege Pizza Hut kept most of the delivery fee the company charges customers, which cut into drivers’ income from tips. — Caitlin Bowling