Welcome to the Aug. 22 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Humana, Aetna helping flood victims

Soldiers help residents out the back of a high-water vehicle after severe flooding in Baton Rouge, La., on Aug. 14. | Courtesy of Louisiana Army National Guard.

Soldiers help residents out the back of a high-water vehicle after severe flooding in Baton Rouge, La., on Aug. 14. | Courtesy of Louisiana Army National Guard.

Humana is helping Louisiana flood victims by providing them with medication refills, automatic authorization for some medical services, and counseling services.

Flooding in Louisiana has damaged 40,000 houses, and more than 80,000 people have applied for federal disaster aid, according to NPR.

Humana has more than 650 employees and more than 350,000 customers in Louisiana.

Humana_logo“We know many of them are hurting right now and in need of our help, assistance and support,” April Golenor, the company’s Gulf States Medicare president, said in a press release.

To help those affected by the floods, Humana has agreed to take steps including:

  • Making early refills of prescription medications available without authorization from physicians or Humana.
  • Providing automatic authorization for medical services that normally require pre-authorization.
  • Making its toll-free Employee Assistance Program hotline available to customers. The hotline (866-440-6556) includes counselors and work/life specialists who are available around the clock.

Hartford, Conn.-based insurer Aetna, which wants to buy Humana, has taken similar steps. —Boris Ladwig

The Manhattan Project aiming for early September opening

The bar and restaurant will fill the space behind Nancy's Bagel Grounds. | Courtesy of Google Maps

The bar and restaurant will fill the space behind Nancy’s Bagel Grounds. | Courtesy of Google Maps

“Hey, bartender, I’d like a Manhattan, please.”

It won’t be long before that sentence is uttered in the newest Clifton bar and restaurant The Manhattan Project. Erick Strnatka, who co-owns The Manhattan Project, told IL that he and his three business partners hope to open on Sept. 9.

However, he added that work will need to speed up in order to hit that self-imposed deadline. “It’s coming along slowly.”

Back in June, IL broke the news that the new sports bar and restaurant is opening along Frankfort Avenue behind Nancy’s Bagel Grounds, 2101 Frankfort Ave. After that story, there was some concern from nearby residents that the owners planned to apply for a 4 a.m. liquor license even though Strnatka said they never intended to serve that late-night, party crowd.

In the end, The Manhattan Project was approved for a 2 a.m. license. —Caitlin Bowling

Weigh in on the future of two Paristown Pointe properties

A rendering of the future Louisville Stoneware building in Paristown Pointe | Rendering by wHY Architecture

A rendering of the future Louisville Stoneware building in Paristown Pointe | Rendering by wHY Architecture

Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government is hosting three workshops this week seeking resident input on the development of the Paristown Pointe neighborhood.

The workshops will focus specifically on how to best reuse the former Urban Government Center on Barret Avenue and a Vine Street building owned by Louisville Metro Housing Authority. The city moved its employees from the Urban Government Center to the Edison Center in Old Louisville because of a mold infestation.

The city is looking to repurpose the buildings following the announcement of a $28 million development project that includes a renovated Louisville Stoneware and new facilities for the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts and Goodwood Brewing Co.

The workshops will be held at 810 Barret Ave. from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 22 and Aug. 23, and from 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 27. —Caitlin Bowling

Former Aegon Center may add new tenant amenities

400 West Market is commonly referred to by its former name. | File Photo

This Louisville skyscraper might soon be getting its own ground-floor gym. | File Photo

The skyscraper formerly known as the Aegon Center — and still called that by most native Louisvillians — may soon get some upgrades.

Insider Louisville got a tip that a gym was going into the first floor of the 35-story building now named 400 West Market, a reference to its downtown address. A Delaware-based company Louisville Trophy LLC owns the property.

Chris Cieminski, a property manager at 400 West Market, confirmed that the ownership group is considering adding new amenities, which could include a fitness center. Any new amenities would only be available to the building’s tenants, of which there are many, including KPMG, Stites and Harbison and Frost Brown Todd.

Cieminski, who works for the international real estate investment firm Hines, declined to comment further, adding that it was too early in the process to say what amenities will be added.

“We are really not far along,” he told IL. —Caitlin Bowling

Grasshoppers debuts new frozen and prepared food made with locally grown produce

Ivor Chodkowski and Eddie Vetter of Grasshoppers LLC | Courtesy of Grasshoppers LLC

Ivor Chodkowski and Eddie Vetter of Grasshoppers LLC | Courtesy of Grasshoppers LLC

Grasshoppers hop. That’s what they are born to do. So it’s no wonder Grasshoppers Distribution, now called Grasshoppers LLC, has hopped around several different endeavors in their day. The latest is a line of prepared and frozen foods made with locally grown produce from proprietors Ivor Chodkowski (of Harvest) and businessman Eddie Vetter (not of Pearl Jam).

The goal of Grasshoppers has always been to get Louisvillians to eat healthy and think more about where their food comes from. And this new product line is no different.

“This isn’t just another food product,” Chodkowski said. “This is about reinventing the local food system and building community every step of the way from where the food is grown to where it’s prepared and sold.”

Products include the Black Bean Mashup and Cilantro Pesto dips, pickled vegetables, frozen sauté packs, soup mixes and more. What’s interesting is Chodkowski said the ingredients are picked fresh at peak season and sourced from local farms. They are minimally processed with no chemical preservatives at Chef Space in the West End, and some of them incorporate local products from Bourbon Barrel Foods and Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese.

“People have a desire to eat well and support their local economy, but they’re often time-strapped,” adds Vetter. “Our products are sold in stores where people are already shopping, so there’s a convenience factor we hope will appeal to a community-minded consumer.”

You can find the Grasshoppers products so far at Rainbow Blossom stores as well as the St. Matthews Farmers Market. They’re hoping to expand soon. —Sara Havens

West Louisville grocery store gets new owner

The full-service grocery store will be under new ownership next month. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

The full-service grocery store will be under new ownership next month. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Considering the size of West Louisville, real grocery stores are few and far between.

In 2012, Park Duvalle saw the opening of its only grocery — First Choice Market, at 3044 Wilson Ave. — as part of a Metro Government-backed initiative to bring a full-service grocery with fresh produce, bakery, butcher shop and deli to the West End neighborhood.

Up until now, the locally owned grocery chain ValuMarket had operated the store, but now an Indiana company is stepping in to run the supermarket.

Buehler Inc. of Jasper, Ind., will take over ownership and management of First Choice in September. The grocery will close on Sept. 11, so Buehler can stock its own merchandise and change prices, according to a news release. The store will reopen on Sept. 16 as Cash Saver Market.

“Cash Saver will offer the same wide selection of high-quality groceries at everyday low prices,” said Matt Dills, whose family has owned Buehler for 75 years. “Our stores are structured to keep expenses lower and pass savings on to the customer. We gladly accept all forms payment, including cash, credit card, debit card, SNAP and EBT.”

All current employees will be given the opportunity to interview for positions at Cash Saver Market.

First Choice Market’s opening was the result of a collaboration between ValuMarket, Metro Government, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Canaan Community Development Corp. and developer SAL Louisville. —Caitlin Bowling

Convenience store opens in Park Hill neighborhood, draws initial concerns

Moe’s is more of a convenience store than a grocery. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Last week, IL noticed an advertisement in The Courier-Journal for a business called Greenwood Groceries at 1636 West Oak St. just on the edge of the Park Hill neighborhood. Per state legal requirements, the business was notifying residents that it planned to apply for an alcohol permit.

A quick search showed a 3,284-square-foot building that looks a bit too small to be a traditional grocery store, so IL reached out to Metro Councilman David James (D-6) last Thursday to see if he could shed any more light on the new business.

James said he was intrigued by the new market and stopped by several times. It looked as if the building was under construction, he said, but he’d not been able to talk to the owners. His main concern is that Greenwood Groceries is another liquor store masking itself behind the word “groceries.”

“It’s my intent to find out,” he said. “If it’s a grocery store, it’s a beautiful thing.”

When IL drove to the address late Friday afternoon to try to track down the owner Abdul Azeem Mohammed, we found the business had just opened and was actually called Moe’s. The shelves were stocked with items one might find in a typical convenience store such as a chips, soft drinks, paper towels and a small selection of canned goods, as well as cigarettes, over-the-counter medicines and tobacco pipes.

James later said he would support a store that only sold the the items allowed in a grocery, meaning no hard liquor. Greenwood Groceries has applied for a malt beverage-only license, meaning it would only be allowed to sell beer, something which James indicated he would support.

Some residents have fought for years to decrease the number of liquor stores in West Louisville and attract high-quality retail stores, restaurants and other businesses. —Caitlin Bowling

Norton CEO to retire

Steve Williams

Steve Williams

Norton Healthcare CEO Stephen A. Williams will retire at the end of the year and will be succeeded by the company’s current president, Russell F. Cox.

Cox came to Norton in 2000 as vice president of support services. After several promotions, he was named president in 2013, as part of a multi-year succession plan, Norton said in a press release.

Williams joined the company in 1977 after serving as CEO of what was once Kentucky’s smallest hospital: Livingston County, with 26 beds. Williams became Norton’s CEO in 1993 and, according to the nonprofit’s website, “has been recognized as a national leader, speaker and author in the area of health care quality measurement, reporting and improvement processes as an organizational strategy.”

Donald H. Robinson, chairman or Norton’s board, said Cox is “uniquely qualified” to succeed Williams.

“Steve and Russ have developed an outstanding management team,” Robinson said. “This will be a seamless transition so the thousands of patients served by Norton Healthcare, our employees, physicians, affiliates and partners can be assured that Norton’s focus on its mission, vision and values will continue well into the future.”

Norton, a health care system established in 1886, includes 140 locations in Northern Kentucky and Southern Indiana, including five hospitals with a total of 1,837 licensed beds. It employs more than 13,000. —Boris Ladwig

Bardstown Road store closes up shop, moves inventory online

Photo by David Serchuk

Photo by David Serchuk

Old Souls Vintage, a boutique that sells clothes your mom definitely wore in the 1970s, has closed up shop and moved all of its sales online. The vintage store had been at 1609 Bardstown Road in the Highlands since 2013.

Old Souls —owned by Jasmine Masterson — now sells on EBay and Etsy. The shop’s Etsy page boasts 294 sales and 1,108 admirers. You can also view their inventory on their Facebook and Instagram pages. (The clothes may be vintage, but the prices are modern-day — most dresses start at around $58 and others top $100.)

It remains a mystery what might move into the prime Highlands real estate; the owners of the Deer Park-neighborhood building — which was last purchased in 2009 for $205,000 — could not be reached as of press time. —Melissa Chipman

Southern Living names local eatery one of “The South’s Best New Restaurants”

Butchertown Grocery partners Bobby Benjamin, Jon Salomon and Patrick Hallahan stand inside the new restaurant and bar. | Photo by Jessie Kriech-Higdon

Butchertown Grocery partners Bobby Benjamin, Jon Salomon and Patrick Hallahan | Photo by Jessie Kriech-Higdon

Butchertown Grocery made an impression with Southern Living writer Jennifer V. Cole.

The restaurant, which is co-owned by chef Bobby Benjamin, Patrick Hallahan and Jon Saloman, made the magazine’s list of “The South’s Best New Restaurants.”

The list included 25 establishments, and Butchertown Grocery was not only the sole Louisville eatery to make the list, but it also is the only place in Kentucky to do so.

“At the light-filled Butchertown Grocery, chef Bobby Benjamin works wonders with meat (ultra-juicy burgers, a sandwich piled high with house-cured salumi, rack of lamb dressed with aged balsamic). But don’t dismiss his stellar veggies, like the fragrant mushrooms enriching tender gnocchi,” Cole wrote.

Butchertown Grocery opened less than a year ago at 1076 E. Washington St. In addition to the downstairs restaurant, there is an upstairs bar and live music venue that also can double as private event space. —Caitlin Bowling

Louisville state champ truck driver places fifth at nationals

Jesse Benkert

Jesse Benkert

A Louisville-based state champion truck driver recently placed fifth in the National Truck Driving Championships in Indianapolis.

Jesse Benkert, a professional driver for 18 years, qualified for the tournament by winning first place in the straight truck competition this year in Kentucky. He had already won state step-van titles in three of the four prior years.

Benkert drives for Charlestown, Ind.-based Seven Springs Enterprises, which does contract work for FedEx Ground in Louisville.

At the nationals, Benkert will compete among nearly 450 drivers for titles in nine vehicle classes — and for the National Grand Champion title. Competitors are tested on driving skills and industry knowledge through driving challenges, a written exam and a pre-trip inspection.

The event is sponsored by the American Trucking Association.

Benkert, a Louisville resident, has driven 450,000 miles without an accident, according to FedEx. —Boris Ladwig