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.

HiCotton Hospitality has eye on further expansion

Ryan Rogers, left, brought on business partner and chef Andrew McCabe for his latest venture, Bar Vetti. | Photo by Jessica Fey

Earlier this week, Insider reported that the restaurant group HiCotton Hospitality, owned by chef Ryan Rogers, was opening its third restaurant concept, a casual sit-down Italian eatery Bar Vetti, on Monday.

And Rogers isn’t slowing down. In just a matter of months, HiCotton Hospitality’s fast-casual restaurant Feast BBQ will open its third location, this one in Jeffersontown.

After that, who knows, but you can be sure Rogers will have something in the works — either a fourth Feast BBQ or a second Royals Hot Chicken or a new concept altogether.

“We are still growing,” Rogers said in a recent interview. He wants to emulate the success of New York-based Union Square Hospitality, Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and locally based Olé Restaurant Group, co-owned by chef Fernando Martinez. Martinez and his partners operate six concepts, two with multiple locations, in Louisville.

‘That guy’s been a powerhouse,” Rogers said, adding that Martinez has shown him the potential to grow Feast BBQ and Royals Hot Chicken, as well as new concepts, within Louisville. “We can do it as well.”

Although he’s looked at spaces in Cincinnati, Rogers said right now, HiCotton Hospitality’s focus was on Louisville. Maybe one day it will branch out into other cities, but not any time soon.

The chef-turn-restaurateur said he considered any gaps Louisville’s culinary scene might have and that he had a bevy of ideas.

“What restaurants do I want to go to in Louisville that don’t currently exist,” he said. —Caitlin Bowling

21c and Humana named in national Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts

Each year, the national nonprofit Americans for the Arts recognizes the country’s top 10 businesses that are known for their exceptional involvement with the arts. This year, two Louisville companies landed on that list — 21c Museum Hotels and Humana.

Representatives from both companies — and some folks from Fund for the Arts — traveled to New York City this week to accept the awards at the Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America gala.

“We’re showing the rest of the country what’s possible through the arts,” said Christen Boone, Fund for the Arts president and CEO, in a press release. “Greater Louisville’s world-class arts and culture community are only as successful as the creative companies that grow and innovate here. Fund for the Arts is incredibly grateful for the vision and support of both 21c Museum Hotels and Humana as they help drive a stronger, more competitive community through the arts.”

Other 2017 winners include Magic Hat Brewing Co. out of Vermont, Cardinal Health in Dublin, Ohio, and Kaiser Permanente Colorado out of Denver. Kentucky was the only state to have two winners. —Sara Havens

Large-scale development near River Ridge is making progress

Bridgepointe Commons is located at near the intersection of Interstate 265 and State Road 62. | Courtesy of Denton Floyd Real Estate Group

During the course of the next year, more than an estimated $150 million worth of development will start to take shape in Jeffersonville near River Ridge Commerce Center.

Work is wrapping up on Gottbrath Parkway, a main road that will run through the 70-plus acre development, and a stoplight will go up in November, according to Brandon Denton, head of real estate development firm Denton Floyd Real Estate Group.

The project has been in the works for more than a year already, with the company working to sign tenant and prepare the land for construction. Denton told Inside that Denton Floyd Real Estate Group had signed contracts with a hotelier, a large entertainment complex and two restaurants. He hopes to have a second hotel contract within the next six months.

Denton said he could not reveal just yet who exactly the partners are but said that one of the restaurants would be a fast-casual concept and another a pub-style restaurant. The eateries will cap off a strip center with three to four spaces for retail.

Denton Floyd Real Estate Group also will develop an assisted-living facility, which will break ground sometime in mid-2018.

The company made the news earlier this week when it announced plans to build a luxury apartment complex downtown. —Caitlin Bowling

Jeffersonville confectionery opening expansion this month

Historic candy business Schimpff’s Confectionery will debut its expansion, which owners Warren and Jill Schimpff hope will keep the 125-year-old business profitable into the future.

Schimpff’s, located at 347 Spring St. in Jeffersonville, has expanded into 345 Spring St. The new space will offer additional retail space and seating for the ice cream counter and deli, as well as more space for candy-making and storage.

The owners are the fourth-generation candy makers.

Schimpff’s Confectionery will celebrate the growth from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 28. Light refreshments will be served, and the business will debut new candy and Red Hot Cinnamon products. —Caitlin Bowling

Kroger stock soars after announcing company changes

Kroger recently introduced prepared meal kits for two. | Courtesy of Kroger

Cincinnati-based grocer Kroger Co. announced plans Wednesday to “Restock Kroger” by accelerating its digital and e-commerce initiatives, investing in technology and infrastructure, and exploring the possible sale of its convenience store business.

The announcement sent the company’s stock up nearly 5 percent, to $21.55 per share after the stock market opened on Wednesday. The stock closed at $20.99 per share, up 1 percent for the day, on Thursday.

“As America’s grocer, we are growing in a fragmented market. Kroger has more data than any of our competitors, which leads to deep customer knowledge and unparalleled personalization. We have incredibly convenient locations and platforms for pickup and delivery within one-to-two miles of our customers. We have a leadership team that combines deep experience with creative new talent,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO, adding that the company’s best days are yet to come.

Kroger plans to invest $9 billion in capital investments during the next three years,  expand the front of its stores for self-checkout and invest an incremental $500 million in store associates.

The company has hired Goldman Sachs & Co. to review its convenience store business, which includes 784 stores across 18 states and 68 franchise operations. The stores operate under the names Turkey Hill Minit Markets, Loaf ‘N Jug, KwikShop, Tom Thumb and QuickStop. Neither supermarket fuel centers nor Turkey Hill Dairy are part of the review.

The convenience store business brings in $4 billion in revenue each year, according to Kroger. —Caitlin Bowling

Who’s been funded?

EnterpriseCorp said seven local companies recently received nearly $4.5 million in funding.

So far this year, 46 companies have received more than $91 million in investor funding, including $60 million for Apellis Pharmaceuticals.

Companies that received funding recently included:

  • Cert Solutions, which develops energy reduction/optimization technologies: $25,000 from local angel investors.
  • MobileServe, which has created mobile and web-based platforms for organizations and individuals to track community service hours and volunteerism: $100,000, Kentucky Enterprise Fund.
  • Resistance Pack, which uses data to improve readiness for military personnel: $110,000, local angels.
  • Sunstrand, which creates biomaterials as plastic replacements: $212,000, Enterprise Angels Fund.
  • Vivorte, which develops orthopedic devices: $425,000, KEF and angel investors.
  • MobileMedTek, a medical device company: $1.5 million, SIDIS Corp.
  • Onovative, banking software: $2.1 million, angels, KEF and EAF.

EnterpriseCorp is the entrepreneurial arm of Greater Louisville Inc., the local chamber of commerce. —Boris Ladwig

Locally based restaurant chain named one of America’s hottest concepts

Sales at the new Bubba’s 33 in Clarksville, Ind. are strong, according to Texas Roadhouse CEO Kent Taylor. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Texas Roadhouse’s sister restaurant is getting national recognition.

Bubba’s 33 only has 20 location in the United States, but it caught the attention of national industry magazine Nation’s Restaurant News magazine, which named it one of America’s Hot Concepts. The other four winners are Bibibop Asian Grill, Flower Child, New Bohemia Wurst + BierHaus and Public School on Tap, according to NRN.

“This is super cool,” Texas Roadhouse CEO Kent Taylor said in a news release. “Being named a Hot Concept winner is a tremendous honor for Bubba’s 33 and is a reflection of our people’s passion, commitment, and hard work.”

Previous award winners include Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Ted’s Montana Grill, and Smashburger. —Caitlin Bowling

Mile Wide Beer Co. wins medal at Great American Beer Festival

Competition is fierce in the beer industry, but the Great American Beer Festival sets out to find the best of the best each year during a national tasting competition held in Denver. The event was held Oct. 5-7, and Kentucky had but one winner among the list of 293.

Mile Wide Beer Co. took home a bronze medal in the Sweet Stout/Cream Stout category for its McPoyle beer. This was Mile Wide’s first submission into the competition, as the local brewery opened in December of 2016.

“We’re thrilled to bring this prestigious award home to the state of Kentucky, and we look forward to continuing our journey in providing quality craft beer throughout the state,” said head brewer and co-founder Kyle Tavares in a press release.

Lucky for us, the McPoyle is currently on tap at Mile Wide. —Sara Havens

In Brief

Rooibee Red Tea Company of Louisville announced that it struck a distribution deal with Lipman Brothers Distribution in Nashville to deliver its line of rooibos tea to grocery retailers, independent grocers, bars and restaurants in 74 counties in Tennessee.

The Louisville Parks Foundation board announced the hiring of Brooke Perry Pardue as president and chief executive. Since February 2008, Pardue has served as the constituent services manager for Congressman John Yarmuth.