Monday Business Briefing: Lexington pizzeria coming; council to vote on Topgolf hearing; CafePress deal done; Yelp Art in Action; and more
Welcome to the Nov. 12 Monday Business Briefing, your weekly business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.
Lexington-based pizzeria planning Louisville location
Goodfellas Pizzeria wants to expand its business into new territory, though it will have to differentiate itself from a large amount of competition nearby.
The pizza chain, which has locations in Lexington, Cincinnati, Covington and Indianapolis, has filed documents with Louisville Metro Planning & Design Services for a restaurant with a large outdoor entertainment and dining area at 1250 E. Broadway.
If the plans are approved, a former service station on the property would be demolished, making room for 37-space parking lot at the corner of Broadway and Baxter Avenue. The building behind the service station, an 11,000-square-foot, two-story auto repair shop, would be renovated into Goodfellas Pizzeria and have another 1,385 square feet added on, according to the planning documents. The development would have an additional 12 parking space behind the restaurant.
Goodfellas Pizzeria owner Alex Coats told Insider in an email that he is not ready to comment since plans have not been approved by the city.
Although the Baxter Avenue and Bardstown Road corridors have a wealth of pizza joints already, Goodfellas Pizzeria is a bit different in that its locations include Wiseguys Lounge, a speakeasy with a recognized cocktail program within the restaurant.
The Broadway property was previously a Bader’s Food Market and gas station, and for a time, it was possibly going to be a Thorntons. However, that development was blocked after the 120-year-old house next to it was landmarked; Thorntons had planned to demolish the house as part of its plans for a whole new gas station. —Caitlin Bowling
Councilwoman Parker requests another public comment hearing on Topgolf
A Republican councilwoman would like to open of the floor for more comments on the proposed Topgolf development at Oxmoor Center before the project goes up for a council vote, despite the Louisville Metro Planning Commission taking 11 hours of public comments during two meetings last month.
Thursday evening, Councilwoman Marilyn Parker, R-18, who represents the area where Topgolf would be located, made a request to Council President David James that the council hold a public hearing on the development before they vote on the project. The Republican caucus director indicated that a vote on whether or not to hold a hearing will take place during this week’s meeting.
Parker told Insider that an additional public comment hearing was “resident requested,” adding that “it’s hard to say no to giving people an extra voice.”
Told of Parker’s request during the Democratic caucus meeting last Thursday, several council members spoke against yet another public comment hearing, noting that the Planning Commission approved the development unanimously after hours of contentious debate. The council members said they fear the precedent it would set for every other decision the commission sends to the council. —Joe Sonka
Snapfish completes CafePress acquisition
The struggling local business announced in late September that it had agreed to be acquired for $1.48 per share, or about $25 million.
Snapfish plans to merge with CafePress, with the Louisville retailer to operate as a subsidiary of the San Francisco-based photo storage and printing company. CafePress will continue to be based in Louisville. It employs about 200.
As part of the transaction, CafePress, founded in Louisville in 1999, will no longer be a publicly traded company. According to Yahoo Finance, the last CafePress shares changed hands Thursday for $1.47.
CafePress, which sells customized mugs, T-shirts and other gifts, has been struggling to generate a profit. The company lost $26.5 million in 2016 and $10.3 million last year. The e-commerce retailer reduced its staff this year as a step to cut costs, but profitability has remained elusive. In August, CafePress reported a $1.4 million second-quarter loss, though shares spiked as CEO Fred Durham said that web traffic was improving.
Snapfish President and CEO Jasbir Patel said in a news release Friday that he was “thrilled” about the acquisition.
Yelp Art In Action returns for its fifth year but in new venue
Yelp Art In Action, an annual fundraising event hosted by the online restaurant review site, returns on Wednesday, Nov. 14, but this time, the event will be held at and benefit the Speed Art Museum.
Last year, the event was held at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. However, given the ongoing construction following a fire, it was forced to move elsewhere.
The 21-and-older event features food and drink samples, as well as exhibits and performances, about more than 50 local businesses, nonprofits, arts organizations and others. Last year, Yelp Art In Action included a fake Iron Throne from Game of Thrones that guests could take pictures on.
Acting Against Cancer, CirqueLouis, the Kentucky Opera and Pandora Productions will all perform at Yelp Art in Action. Check out the event page for a full list of participating restaurants and beverage purveyors.
While it is free to attend with an RSVP, guests are encouraged to donate $20 at the door, 100 percent of which will go to the museum. The deadline to RSVP is 4 p.m. Wednesday, with the event running from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Yelp Art In Action is one of roughly 40 events Yelp Louisville host each year in participation with local businesses. During its first year, the event drew 400 attendees, and this year, Yelp Louisville expects 900 to 1,000. —Caitlin Bowling
Family Scholar House gets big gift from Humana Foundation
The Humana Foundation will invest $560,000 in a new Family Scholar House program to help individuals, families and older people overcome barriers to success and well-being.
The community outreach program — HEROES — and the financial gift from the foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of Humana, were announced at a news conference Friday.
The program’s name is an acronym for Health, Education, Resilience, Opportunity and Economic Success, which reflects the breadth of the program’s scope.
The investment is in step with the foundation’s desire to work with community organizations to make Louisville a healthier city by 2020 and to help achieve greater health equity, said Walter Woods, chief executive of the foundation.
“We have worked over the last year to … evolve our mission to co-create communities where leadership, culture and systems work to improve and sustain positive health outcomes,” Woods said.
Local nonprofit Family Scholar House is known for providing housing and educational support for single parents and foster care alumni. The new program, though, will be opened up to the community at large.
Family Scholar House intends to do everything from helping older people and other individuals to overcome food insecurity to giving young adults the tools and confidence to thrive in academic and career settings, said Cathe Dykstra, president and chief executive of Family Scholar House.
“It may be that we’re helping them sign up for SNAP benefits or WIC benefits. It may be that we’re helping them with cooking classes, which we offer,” Dykstra said. Other possibilities include helping them to obtain apprenticeships and helping them to acquire clothing for interviews or other occasions. —Darla Carter
Humana CEO: Kindred acquisition already paying dividends
Humana CEO Bruce Broussard said that Humana’s acquisition of a stake in Kindred Healthcare already is improving patients’ lives.
“There are numerous examples of Kindred at Home nurses in our four pilot programs identifying and addressing gaps in care, including addressing non-medical patient concerns that may cause them to forego the recommended pre- or post-acute treatment plan and jeopardize their health,” he said.
Broussard highlighted the impact of the nurses’ intervention in a call with investors last week to discuss the insurer’s third-quarter earnings.
The CEO had said early this year that the Louisville-based insurer wanted to buy a stake in Kindred in part to increase its capabilities to manage patients’ chronic diseases in their homes, which would improve their lives — and the insurer’s bottom line.
The CEO also said that the company is seeing other efforts, such as its value-based care model with primary physicians, are improving patient outcomes.
At one of the insurer’s Partners in Primary Care clinics, a patient with elevated blood sugar frequently missed appointments although he understood that he was at high risk for a heart attack. Broussard said clinic staff reached out and learned that he could not afford the $15 copay for the office visit and while he was aware of the health consequences, he felt hopeless.
The clinic’s employees found other ways to help, Broussard said. They referred him to a food pantry, entered the address in his phone, provided information about SNAP benefits and how he could use them to get additional fresh produce at a local farmer’s market and helped him with reductions in his rent and electric bills. The patient, Broussard said, described the help as “life-changing.”
“To slow disease progression, improve the health of those we serve and ultimately reduce medical costs we have to solve the barriers to achieveing better health outcomes for our members,” the CEO said. “Those barriers often occur outside the medical realm, including social determinants of health like food insecurity and social isolation as well as financial constraints.” —Boris Ladwig
Turning Point Brands reacts to potential FDA regulations on e-cigarettes
A senior executive for Turning Point Brands told Insider that soon-to-be announced federal regulations about vaping products may not harm the Louisville-based tobacco products company.
“We don’t see it necessarily as a negative for the company,” said Brittani Cushman, senior vice president for external affairs.
Cushman is a lawyer who handles the company’s lobbying efforts and management of regulatory issues at state and federal levels.
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb in September had issued an e-cigarette warning, calling youth use of the product and “epidemic” and a “clear and present danger.” Shares of TPB had fallen 10 percent on the news.
Shares fell again Friday after The Washington Post reported that the FDA chief plans to “impose severe restrictions” on sales of e-cigarette products in convenience stores and gas stations, which would relegate sales of most the products to locations such as tobacco shops.
TPB sells products including chewing tobacco and rolling papers for cigarettes, but has spent significant capital recently to expand its capabilities to sell vaping and related products.
Its NewGen segment, which includes vaping products, was its largest by sales in the third quarter, accounting for 40 percent of total net sales, up from 34 percent a year ago. The segment’s third-quarter sales rose 33.1 percent compared to a year ago.
Cushman said that curbing sales of some e-cig products in convenience stores may result in some reputational damage for the products and reduce access, TPB actually sells a majority of its vaping products online and in its 23 U.S. vape shops and 40 franchises.
Limiting the sale of vaping products at convenience stores could push more people to make purchases at TPB-owned stores or franchises, she said.
Cushman emphasized that she was reacting to news reports and that the FDA has not publicly stated its plans.
The FDA is considering action in part because some retailers have illegally sold e-cigarette products to minors, but Cushman said that TPB believes that convenience stores generally have done a good job in keeping tobacco products out of the hands of minors.
TPB CEO Larry Wexler had said in an earnings call last week that the company supports the FDA’s goal “to limit access of vapor and tobacco products to minors.”
Cushman also said that if the FDA instituted even a partial ban on vaping products in C-stores — while continuing to allow sales of cigarettes there — the agency would be sending an “inconsistent” message.
Nonetheless, Cushman said, she and other TPB leaders generally prefer the matter to be handled at the federal level to avoid having to deal with a patchwork of local and state regulations. The FDA also provides businesses and consumers with a more transparent arena in which to offer comments and raise concerns. Especially at the local level, Cushman said, governmental bodies sometimes pass laws hastily and without much input.
The FDA will hold a public hearing on efforts to eliminate youth e-cigarette use on Dec. 5, 2018. The agency said that e-cigarette use among high school students rose from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 11.7 percent in 2017.
Health experts worry that the growing use of e-cigarettes undermines efforts to curb smoking and nicotine addiction, but companies such as Turning Point Brands point to vaping products as a way to wean adults off combustible cigarettes. —Boris Ladwig
Centerstone names regional chief executive
Centerstone, the organization formerly known as Seven Counties Services, has appointed a new leader to oversee and manage operations in Kentucky.
Abby Drane, the previous president and chief executive of Uspiritus, has been tapped to be Centerstone’s Kentucky regional CEO, effective Dec. 1, according to a news release.
Drane is taking over the position held by Anthony Zipple, who retires at the end of November. She will oversee Centerstone’s clinical operations, programming, business development and financial performance.
Her previous experience includes being the chief financial officer of Seven Counties Services and Communicare.
“Abby is a visionary leader who has more than 30 years of experience and has proven to be successful in driving operational excellence and developing advancement programs for children and families in need,” Centerstone’s chief executive, David Guth, said in the release. “We are fortunate to have the benefit of Abby’s experience and expertise as she leads our Kentucky operations forward.”
Nashville-based Centerstone is one of the nation’s largest behavioral health providers. It’s also a nonprofit serving multiple states.
Centerstone announced late last year its intent to merge with Uspiritus, which serves at-risk youth, in a move to leverage each other’s strengths and provide a longer, more efficient continuum of care. According to a Centerstone spokeswoman, the merger is expected to be completed “in the coming months.” —Darla Carter