The Closing Bell: City says short-term rental applications lagging; why GEA had to lift starting pay; Publishers Press sold; and more

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.

City officials: Short-term rental numbers ‘not what we hoped’

The chart shows were registered short-term rentals are. | Courtesy of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government

As of late August, 195 property owners applied to register their short-term rental with the city and were approved, which is fewer than expected.

“It was not what we hoped. We hoped more,” Emily Liu, director of Louisville Metro Planning and Design Services, told members of the Louisville Metro Council’s planning and zoning committee.

In total, 418 applications were started, but 20 were declined and 97 were voided, meaning they were submitted accidentally or erroneously. For example, someone filed two applications for the same address or needed the long-term rental application instead, according to Planning and Design Services. The remaining are pending for various reasons.

Liu noted that the majority of short-term rentals registered are located in neighborhoods with single-family housing and are concentrated in neighborhoods east and south of the Central Business District.

The city has received 144 complaints from citizens, Liu said, and the department’s code enforcement officers try to respond to them as quickly as possible. About 90 percent of property owners who’ve had complaints against them have either come into compliance or stopped renting, she said.

Councilman Brandon Coan, D-8, said he was “concerned” about enforcement because by some estimates there are 1,500 short-term rentals in Louisville, making those registered only a small percentage of the city’s actual short-term rentals. He asked Liu to work with Metro Council to see if council members can help with additional enforcement resources.

The city only has four code enforcement officers for all zoning issues, and additional help would be welcomed, Liu stated. “We are doing the best we can.”

She also noted that it is difficult to find out how many people are renting homes more than once a year during the Kentucky Derby. —Caitlin Bowling

GEA’s salary increase reflects a competitive labor field, data shows

In the most recent labor report from, there were 1,208 openings in manufacturing overall in the last quarter and 496 in the entry-level group for the region.

Deputy Director Cindy Read told Insider: “We have a manufacturing employer group that meets monthly at the Kentucky Manufacturing Career Center and they are almost all hiring at entry level and quite a few for more skilled positions, such as CNC operator or Maintenance Technician. Welders are also in demand in manufacturing.”

And a recent Beige Book report from the St. Louis Fed indicated that “manufacturing contacts in Louisville noted that difficulties in finding qualified labor have led to longer lead times and an inability to fill additional orders.”

Appliance Park welcomes visitors and employees to “GE Appliances – a Haier company.” | Photo by Boris Ladwig.

So, it was not that surprising that General Electric Appliances this week announced that it would bump up the salary of entry-level workers at Appliance Park to $14 from $12. As Insider reported this week, an atmosphere of uncertainty surrounding GEA is making it difficult to attract and retain experienced employees, according to the union president, Dana Crittendon. The starting pay at $12 was lowered in the last contract from $15.52, also kept employees away, he said.

In an email to explain the change, Kim Freeman, a GEA spokeswoman, said: “The Louisville labor market continues to be very tight and is causing challenges in attracting and retaining production employees here at the Park. We’ve all seen it . . . you can’t drive around the city without seeing hiring signs everywhere.”

To address the tight labor situation, GE Appliances is moving its Flexible Workforce employees to its Competitive Wage 3 structure, which in addition to a higher starting salary, means they are eligible for the full suite of GE Appliances employee benefits. About 280 employees are impacted, Freeman said. New hires will also be hired in at the CW3 rate structure and will remain at this level, she said. —Mickey Meece

Equus & Jack’s Lounge celebrating 32 years

Chef Dean Corbett owns Equus & Jack’s Lounge. | File Photo

Renowned chef Dean Corbett is offering a special anniversary menu for the month of September to mark 32 years in business at Equus & Jack’s Lounge.

“I am really humbled that at Equus & Jack’s Lounge I often greet people who have been patrons for many, many years and even decades,” Corbett said in a news release. “But I also like seeing new faces each night and hope they too will become long time guests.

The three-course meal includes either a mushroom fumé or petit wedge salad for the appetizer, petit Parmesan-crusted sea bass or 8-ounce dry-aged prime strip steak for the entree, and Equus chess cake or chef’s choice for dessert. The cost is $32 per person, plus tax and gratuity.

Those who choose that menu also will be entered to win a $32 gift card to the restaurant and bar. There will be a gift card drawing weekly.

Equus & Jack’s Lounge isn’t the only local restaurant hitting a major milestone. Bristol Bar & Grille turns 40 on Sept. 27 and is celebrating this Saturday. —Caitlin Bowling

4th-largest publication printer in the U.S. is sold

The family-owned Publishers Press of Lebanon Junction, Ky., has been acquired by the publicly traded LSC Communications, which is based in Chicago.

Financial terms of the deal were not released.

Publishers Press, which has a history that dates to the late 1800s, offers web-offset printing, prepress and distribution services for magazine and retail brands.

LSC recently acquired CREEL Printing, a privately owned offset and digital printing organization in Las Vegas, and this deal expands its printing and distribution services by purchasing Publishers Press, one of the largest publication printers in the U.S., according to Folio.

With Publishers Press’ strong industry reputation, expertise in publication printing and high volumes in distribution and mailing services, this acquisition will be extremely beneficial for our clients,” said Dave Cardona, LSC’s president of magazine sales, in the release. —Mickey Meece

Two new whiskey releases by Louisville-based distilleries

It must be September — National Bourbon Heritage Month — because our Insider bourbon desk is filling up with news. Worth mentioning here are two new limited releases by Louisville-based distilleries, Angel’s Envy and Michter’s.

An Angel with heft.

First up is the 2017 limited-edition release of Angel’s Envy Cask Strength, which comes in at an impressive 124.5 proof. It’s available in 24 states and Washington, D.C., but there are only 10,000 bottles available — so good luck on your hunt.

The premium barrel-strength bourbon starts out as all Angel’s Envy does, aging in a rick house for up to seven years. Only a handful of barrels are flagged for the brand’s Cask Strength standards, and those select few are blended and then go into a Portuguese port wine cask for an extended time.

“Cask Strength is a complex whiskey unlike any in the marketplace,” said Angel’s Envy co-founder Wes Henderson in a press release. “I look forward to continuing this tradition for many generations.”

The first Cask Strength was released in 2012. The suggested retail prices is $199.99.

Next is Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Rye, a brand new product that takes the company’s US*1 Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Rye at barrel strength, and then finishes it for an additional amount of time in a new toasted (not charred) oak barrel. The toasting is meant to enhance the spiciness of the rye while also adding in notes of smoke and the dark toast of a campfire marshmallow.

Rye not?

“This innovative release is the culmination of two years of maturation research conducted by our master distiller Pamela Heilmann and our master of maturation Andrea Wilson,” said Michter’s president Joseph J. Magliocco in a press release. “The result of their work is a uniquely flavorful rye that we are very proud of.”

The whiskey comes in at a hot 108.6 and has rye whiskey fans clamoring for a sip.

“It is remarkable how much simply finishing our rye in a uniquely toasted barrel can further enhance depth and complexity,” said Wilson in the release.

“I love good rye, and this one is terrific,” added Heilmann.

We have no doubt that with those two at the helm, the product is divine. Of course, it’ll be a limited release, but if you can find it, it retails for $75. —Sara Havens

Feast BBQ opening third Kentuckiana location

Feast BBQ sells a variety of smoked meats. | Courtesy of Feast BBQ

There’s no rest for Ryan Rogers.

Rogers, owner of Feast BBQ and Royals Hot Chicken, is opening a third Feast BBQ — at the same time that he is working on an Italian restaurant Bar Vetti in The 800 Building.

The new location will open in a former muffler shop, located at the corner of Taylorsville Road and Watterson Trail, in downtown Jeffersontown’s historic Gaslight Square District. The opening is slated for some time in early 2018.

The Jeffersontown store will feature indoor communal dining space and an expansive outdoor patio.

“Great barbecue takes time, and we look forward to spending a lot of it in Jeffersontown; sharing our passion for barbecue and the continued economic revitalization of downtown Jeffersontown,” Rogers said in a news release.

Feast BBQ already has locations in the NuLu neighborhood and downtown New Albany. It serves hickory smoked meats, loaded tots and bourbon slushies. —Caitlin Bowling

In Brief

  • For today only, Krispy Kreme stores are selling pumpkin spice glazed doughnuts. According to Fortune, the “Pumpkin Spice” economy was valued at about $500 million two years ago, so don’t worry too much if you miss out on this pumpkin promotion.
  • Louisville Bespoke — a collective of artists, fashion designers, photographers and more — is holding an open house on Tuesday, Sept. 12, from 6-8 p.m. at their headquarters inside the Hope Mills building in Germantown, 1000 Swan St. There will be a live photo shoot, and anyone interested in art, styling, makeup and more are encouraged to attend — for free. Info can be found online.