When Tavis Rockwell and Chad Coulter were designing LouVino, the popular Highlands restaurant that now has five locations, there was another idea in their minds as well. That idea was pushed to the backburner for a time, but recently it became a reality with the opening of Biscuit Belly in NuLu.
The fast-casual, biscuit-themed eatery — yes, pretty much everything on the menu involves a huge, country-style biscuit — is now open and filling bellies.
“Tavis and I had been talking about it for four or five years,” Coulter told Insider.
“I think we were joking about this while we were opening LouVino,” Rockwell added.
The duo looked at several locations, but none of them quite made sense.
But with the restoration of the former DeHart Paint & Varnish Co. building at 900 E. Main St. and the opening of Story Louisville’s new space there, becoming the building’s food hub made more than enough sense to go ahead with their concept.
Two menu items have stood out so far, the owners said: the Fire in Your Belly biscuit and the Rockwell.
The former is a biscuit sandwich with fried chicken, Nashville-style hot aioli, pickles and cheddar cheese, while the latter is a biscuit sandwich with fried chicken, cheddar and goetta sausage gravy.
(Goetta sausage is a combination of finely ground meat and grain and is of German origins.)
If you’re feeling particularly hungry, the Rockwell Supreme adds a fried egg and bacon to the mix; there’s a reason these biscuit “sandwiches” are served with a knife stuck in them because based on an eye test, very few people will be picking them up.
Other menu highlights include sharable starters like loaded breakfast tots, pancake corndogs and praline beignets; more sandwiches such as the Jittery Joe (country ham, cheddar, a fried egg and tomato aioli) and namesake Biscuit Belly (crispy-fried pork belly, braised greens and hot sauce syrup);and plates featuring a Hot Brown biscuit, the vegetarian Boomer made with mushroom gravy and crispy mushroom toppers; and even a S’mores open-face biscuit with chocolate gravy.
For those who aren’t biscuit enthusiasts, there’s a house salad, Nutella toast, a veggie-filled egg-white fold, pancakes and a few other options.
Biscuit Belly also serves alcoholic beverages, including breakfast cocktails like classic mimosas and bloody marys, a pecan nut old fashioned and Kentucky coffee, made with Four Roses bourbon, bourbon cream, whipped cream and chocolate porter beer syrup.
The 3,000-square-foot restaurant features a pleasant design with white walls and ceilings accented by wood floors and tables, with hanging lights, several long tables for communal dining, bar seating, and accents of blue, green and yellow.
The distinctive script logo, which sort of conjures thoughts of vintage sundries products, is splashed on a back wall, on throwback-looking coffee mugs and on the merchandise displayed at the entrance and around the bar area.
Coulter said if the restaurant, which is located just a block over from the main NuLu corridor at the corner of Campbell and East Main, does well, there may be interest in opening more locations. The space certainly looks relatable to multiple parts of town and possibly even beyond.
“If there’s a scalable model,” Coulter said, “it’s this one.”
One thing to note is that all the food is cooked to order. Diners order at the counter, fast-casual-style, and orders typically come out in four or five minutes. But during busy periods, it might take 10 to 15 minutes for some orders to be served.
Rockwell is culinary director for LouVino and Biscuit Belly and a co-owner in the latter. He said there is plenty of prep time involved in making menu items at Biscuit Belly as well as much to be done when an order is placed, given that everything on the menu is scratch-made.
“There’s a lot of cooking,” he said. “It’s not McDonald’s — we’re making eggs to order.”
“It’s pretty labor-intensive for a fast-casual,” Coulter added.
The plan is to be open for several weeks to see which items sell best. Items could be added or replaced, but the owners feel the menu is about 90 percent where it needs to be.
After all, they’ve been planning Biscuit Belly for quite some time. It was just a matter of finding the right place to do it.
“We felt NuLu was a place it could really thrive in,” Coulter said.
Biscuit Belly, located at 900 E. Main St., is open Wednesday through Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m.