Monday Business Briefing: Lawyer plans to revive historic Shelby Park building; Blaze Pizza opens today; jobs report pushes stocks lower; and more

Welcome to the Oct. 10 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Local lawyer plans to revive historic Shelby Park building

Keswick Democratic Club sold its longtime headquarters because of waning membership. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Keswick Democratic Club sold its longtime headquarters because of waning membership. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Attorney Robert Johnston wants to “breathe some new life” into the former Keswick Democratic Club building.

The 5,305-square-foot, three-story building was constructed in 1955 at 1125 Logan St. in the Shelby Park neighborhood. For many years and up until this year, it was home to the Keswick Democratic Club, a social club that held dinners, dances and fundraisers.

The club faced similar struggles as the American Legion Highland Post 201, which was sold to Assumption High School last week. Membership has dwindled as younger people aren’t getting involved in social organizations anymore, and the group couldn’t keep up the large space, said Mark Misback, a club member. “It just kind of ran its course.”

The Keswick Democratic Club sold the property to Johnston in February for $160,000. Stock Yards Bank & Trust financed the deal.

“It’s a pretty neat building. It’s got a lot of history, and I like the area,” said Johnston, who’d been looking to invest in real estate since moving to Louisville about five years ago with his wife.

Despite its age, the building is structurally sound, he said, but will need some upgrades before it can be leased. The building already has a kitchen space, a bar, a large banquet hall and two large rooms on the second floor that once updated will give a future tenant or tenants plenty of interior design options.

“It’s just got a lot of deferred maintenance issues really,” Johnston said. “It needs love. There is plaster peeling off the walls.”

The property also needs to be rezoned. The property is zoned for office/residential and manufacturing, but Johnston has applied with Louisville Metro Planning and Design Services to rezone it for commercial use.

“That is the most liberal sort of designation that they have and that will allow a restaurant or bar to go in there,” he said, adding that he’s been in talks with potential tenants during the past several months, but is waiting for the property to be rezoned before moving forward. —Caitlin Bowling

The Eagle set to roost in the Highlands soon

Workers are renovating this space for The Eagle. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Workers are renovating this space for The Eagle. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

It won’t be long now before The Eagle hatches on Bardstown Road.

The Cincinnati-based craft beer and chicken concept will open the first week of November, said Joe Lanni, co-founder of Thunderdome Restaurant Group, which owns The Eagle.

“It’s going great,” he said. “We think it’s going to be a really great space that is going to look totally different (than it did).”

Thunderdome is hiring 100 to 125 employees. The company is looking for servers, hosts, dishwashers, cooks and bartenders.

Insider Louisville broke the news back in May that locally owned El Camino was leaving the Bardstown Road location and relocating, and that The Eagle was swooping in to take its place.

El Camino hasn’t reappeared, but co-owner Shawn Cantley said they are close to securing a space for the restaurant. He added that he can’t offer details at this time because of a nondisclosure agreement. —Caitlin Bowling

Open houses set for Portland Neighborhood Plan rezoning

New businesses have been moving into the warehouse district in Portland during the last few years. | File Photo

New businesses have been moving into the warehouse district in Portland during the last few years. | File Photo

Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government will hold a series of open houses this month to talk about a plan to rezone portions of the Portland Neighborhood Plan.

Properties that are currently zoned multifamily residential will be rezoned to urban neighborhood, which will give property owners more flexibility. Under the urban neighborhood designation, properties can have agricultural uses or serve as single-family homes; they can house museums, community centers, churches and schools

“The intent of the change in zoning is to ‘rezone back to what it was,'” the meeting notices states.

City officials will host all the open houses in the community room of the Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church, 3126 Portland Ave, and people can come and go anytime from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The open houses will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 12; Thursday, Oct. 13; and Wednesday, Oct. 19. —Caitlin Bowling

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza continues to expand in Kentucky

Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza cost about $8. | File Photo

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza’s personal pies cost about $8. | File Photo

Pizza lovers likely will be lining the block at The Paddock Shops on Tuesday to get a bite at the new Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza.

Blaze Pizza is opening today next to Zoës Kitchen and Five Guys Burgers and Fries, but Tuesday is the big day, as people are invited to get a free pizza,  from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The new store is 3,470 square feet, with seating for 113 inside and an additional 20 seats on an outdoor patio, according to the opening announcement. Its regular hours of operations are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday.

The restaurant’s menu includes freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade, s’more pies and 11-inch personal pizzas.

Louisville-based Millennial Restaurant Group opened the first Kentucky Blaze Pizza in 2014. It now operates three stores in Louisville, one in Bowling Green and a fourth in Lexington. A fifth Blaze Pizza is opening soon on Sir Barton Way in Lexington, according to Blaze Pizza’s website.

Millennial Restaurant Group’s partners are James Patterson Sr., Jim Patterson II, Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman, Wayne Albritton and Collins Cogan.  —Caitlin Bowling

Ford September sales fall 8 percent

2017 Ford F-150 XLT. | Courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

2017 Ford F-150 XLT. | Courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Co. said that North American sales in September fell 7.7 percent from a year earlier, as even the flagship F-Series pickup saw lower demand.

Ford previously had said it expects sales in the second half of the year to decline.

The company sold 204,447 vehicles in September, down from 221,599 a year earlier. Demand for the F-Series, at 67,809, was down 2.6 percent, though Ford said it still sold more F-Series pickups in September than any other month this year. Ford said, however, that demand for the Super Duty, the work truck version of the F-Series, remains strong. The Super Duty is made at Kentucky Truck Plant. Sales of Ford trucks fell 1.8 percent overall.

Sales of the Escape, which is made at the Louisville Assembly Plant, dropped 12 percent, to 26,065. SUV sales overall fell 3.2 percent.

Car sales fell 22.5 percent, with demand for the Fiesta plunging nearly 40 percent compared with September 2015.

“We continue seeing strong customer demand, especially for vans and pickup trucks, including our all-new Super Duty,” Mark LaNeve, a Ford vice president, said in a press release. “Demand for a rich mix of our all-new Super Duty pickups helped boost Ford’s average transaction prices by $1,100 versus a year ago, outpacing the industry’s $400 average.”

General Motors said its September sales were down 18.1 percent. FiatChrysler said its North American sales fell 1 percent. —Boris Ladwig

Jobs report pushes stocks lower

Bureau of Labor Statistics logoFriday’s lackluster jobs report pushed stocks lower overall, but some local companies booked gains.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that the U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in September and that the unemployment rate edged higher, to 5 percent.

Wall Street was expecting slightly better numbers: The S&P 500 on Friday fell 0.33 percent. The Dow and Nasdaq incurred slightly smaller losses.

Shares of Louisville-based Kindred Healthcare declined 1.77 percent Friday. PharMerica, Brown-Forman Corp., Churchill Downs, Ford and Republic Bancorp also booked declines. However, shares of CafePress Inc. jumped 1.31 percent, while Sypris Solutions booked a gain of nearly 1 percent. Shares of Papa John’s, Yum Brands and Humana also rose Friday.

For the week, the S&P 500 fell 0.67 percent. Of the stocks mentioned above, only Ford, Republic Bancorp and Humana posted a gain for the week. —Boris Ladwig

What’s open, what’s closed on Columbus Day, err Indigenous People’s Day

Columbus Day

Columbus Day

The second Monday of October once stood proudly as a day to celebrate the arrival of Christopher Columbus coming to the Americas on Oct. 12, 1492, with church services, parades, events and the like.

But, according to, many states now celebrate Native Americans’ Day/Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day.

In any case, the federal holiday is not what it once was: According to its annual holiday survey, the Society for Human Resource Management says only 13 percent or businesses and organizations planned to close in observance of Columbus Day; 1 percent said they would close early; and 86 percent they would remain open.

City and state offices are open today, as are Jefferson County Public Schools, libraries and state courts. U.S. District courts and bankruptcy courts are closed, but all others are open. There is no mail delivery, but FedEx and UPS pick up and drop off as usual. Banks and credit unions are closed.

Small and large retail stores are open and are sure to be clearing out goods at a discount to stock up with holiday items. The National Retail Federation is predicting a 3.6 percent gain in sales in November and December. —Mickey Meece

Louisville City FC reaches conference final for a second year

Courtesy of Louisville City FC.

Louisville City FC beat the Charleston Battery 1-0 on Saturday at Slugger Field to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

Nearly 6,600 fans poured into Slugger Saturday evening to see LouCity’s Kadeem Dacres score in the 53rd minute to propel the second-year club to the Eastern Conference Final for the second consecutive year. It was a rematch of last year’s conference semi, in which LouCity beat Charleston 2-0.

“We fully deserved to win the game,” coach James O’Connor said in a press release. “I’m really, really pleased for all the players.”

In the final, LouCity, which came into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed, will play No. 1 seed New York Red Bulls II, which beat the Rochester Rhinos Friday after double overtime and a penalty shootout. If Rochester had won, LouCity would have hosted another playoff game. Now the team has to travel to New York’s Red Bull Arena, where the teams will meet at 6:30 p.m. Sunday to determine who advances to the United Soccer League Championship match. The teams played each other twice during the regular season, with NYRB II winning both while conceding no goals.

Louisville City FC’s players on Sunday likely will have to play in a much less raucous atmosphere than they typically enjoy at Slugger, where the club has averaged more than 7,000 fans per game this year, ranking third in the league. The New York team had the second-worst average attendance in the league this year: Fewer than 600 fans on average made it to a home game. On Friday, the New York team drew 1,229 fans to its playoff game, according to the USL. Boris Ladwig