Welcome to the Jan. 18 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.
Fred Durham: CafePress constructing ‘open’ and ‘collaborative’ headquarters
CafePress’ current headquarters at Jefferson Riverport International business park aren’t the most conventional.
“The place down in Riverport is more a fulfillment center, not an office environment,” CEO Fred Durham told Insider Louisville.
“It is a wonderful factory,” he added, but a new Silicon Valley-inspired office on Shelbyville Road will provide non-manufacturing employees with a better work environment and help the company recruit new talent.
Insider Louisville broke the news back in October that CafePress planned to purchase a 1.6-acre property at 11909 Shelbyville Road from owner Hameron Properties I LLC and move its headquarters there. Gant Hill, principal at Gant Hill and Associates, brokered the deal on behalf of CafePress.
Durham said company leaders looked at both the East End and downtown. Parking and traffic deterred them from downtown; private parking, nearby food options, a good-sized building and a central location drew CafePress executives to Shelbyville Road.
The company has requested a conditional use permit from the city to add 40 additional parking spaces.
CafePress won’t build on to the existing 25,000-square-foot structure, which Durham said is a blank canvas. “The interior of the building was actually just a shell. There was nothing in there — no carpet, no lights.”
Renovations will cost an estimated $600,000, according to a city building permit, placing the total investment at $2.4 million.
The new headquarters will be more traditional in that it will be an actual office building, but it will be different from most Louisville offices.
“As you walk in, we are going to have a store-like environment,” Durham said.
The store won’t be open to the public. Instead, it will serve as a reminder of who the CafePress customer is and what its products look and feel like, which can be easy to forget, Durham said.
“It is all on a screen,” he said.
The office also will incorporate lots of glass. Spaces will be “open” and “very collaborative,” Durham said. “That is the whole modern vibe, breaking down the walls and realizing communication is across departments and communication is key.”
Durham and other C-suite executives will have cubicles just like everyone else.
The new Shelbyville Road headquarters is expected to be move-in ready on April 1. CafePress will relocate 100 of its approximately 300 employees to the new building and will maintain 200 workers at its Riverport facility.
FABD owners planning new business in Volk Cleaners space
The former home of laundry service Volk Cleaners won’t sit empty long.
The owners of Frankfort Avenue Beer Depot and Smokehouse, brothers Dave Alvey and Robby Alvey, took over the approximately 2,200-square-foot storefront this month.
“We are going to fix it up. The building needs a lot of TLC,” Robby Alvey told Insider Louisville.
Volk Cleaners closed its store at 3202 Frankfort Ave. in November after 40 years in business. Owners Judy Rogers and Bill Rogers still own and operate Parrot Cleaners, an 88-year-old laundry business in Germantown.
Alvey declined to say what he and his brother plan to open in the space, which is two doors down from FABD, with Patrick’s Bar in between the two. They have yet to finalize their plans, he said, but it will likely be another restaurant.
“We are trying to keep it quiet for a little bit,” Alvey said. Whatever it is, the business will be “something totally different” from FABD.
The pair wasn’t looking to open another business, he said, but the space came available and it just made sense.
Access Ventures delivers a delicious Growth Loan to Farm to Fork Catering
Access Ventures provides character-based “growth loans” to small businesses that might not typically qualify for a small-business loan. Their most recent recipient is Farm to Fork Catering‘s Sherry Hurley, who started the socially and environmentally minded company in 2009.
These loans are not collateralized and are decided upon by a committee of local community members. Access Ventures does not share loan amounts, but a business owner can apply for anywhere from $10,000 to $35,000.
Access Ventures’ portfolio includes businesses as diverse as Entomology Solutions, Birdgang Brand Clothing and Scarlet’s Bakery.
Farm to Fork offers carry-out food, catering and private chefs, all with an emphasis of sourcing local food.
Hurley has spent her whole life in restaurants, food service and farm jobs. She added the carry-out portion of the business last November as an additional revenue stream for her catering service and as a way to retain staff in a business that can be very seasonal.
TAJ Louisville projected to open by Derby
It all started with photos landlord Mike Maloney posted on his Facebook page. It appeared he was sitting at a completed new NuLu bar, which will be called TAJ Louisville, enjoying a beer. I immediately reached out to Maloney — who also works as the director of community relations and events at the Mayor’s Office — to find out more details.
Turns out the bar, at 807 E. Market St. (next door to Bermuda Highway), is still being built but should be ready by Derby. While the concept is a nod to Maloney’s former “speakeasy” gathering space he opened up for musicians and creative folks for years, his buddy Ken Blackthorn is the man behind the operation.
Blackthorn gave me an impromptu tour last week, and while the bar, seating and some decor is ready, there’s still a lot to be done. He says he doesn’t necessarily see it as a secretive speakeasy space but rather a dive/cocktail bar a friend described as “the Nachbar of NuLu.” The inside will hold about 50-60, but an outside patio is in the works as well.
From what I observed, Blackthorn is taking his time to refine each and every detail — from local artwork to a ceiling made of old shutters to bar stools that once served as elevator chairs. Keep an eye on the TAJ Facebook page for updates on its progress. And we’ll check back with Blackthorn and Maloney in the spring. —Sara Havens
Eyedia moving to location unknown
Household consignment store Eyedia, Design It Again closed its doors at 1631 Mellwood Ave. last Friday, Jan. 8.
The store will reopen in a new location sometime in February, according to the store’s voicemail, but the site of its new home remains a mystery.
Insider Louisville reached out to owners Martha Neal Cooke and Diane Steve earlier this month, but they were not ready to divulge Eyedia’s new address.
“The details on where we are going — the ink is not dry,” Neal Cooke said, adding that they hoped to sign the lease on the new store soon.
Chateau Bourbon to open, this time for real
After canceling its grand opening in December, bourbon-themed bed and breakfast Chateau Bourbon’s owners John Hillock, Missy Hillock and Carol Thomas now have set their sights on opening Wednesday, Jan. 20.
“Our love for Norton Commons made it the perfect place to establish our business,” Missy Hillock said in a news release. “To have such a vibrant walkable community at our doorstep gives Chateau Bourbon that much more added value.”
The trio will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3:30 p.m. with representatives from the mayor’s office, the Kentucky Distillers Association, Greater Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism, and the North East Louisville Chamber of Commerce. The event will be followed by an open house from 4 to 8 p.m.
It’s a boon! New textbook trading app from recent Spalding grad
Textbooks were a massive expense back when I was in college, lo those many years ago, I felt like I had to work a second job just to pay for my books every semester — and I did. But textbook prices have only gone up since then, maybe even disproportionally so. Science texts are often upwards of $100 each.
Enter Abram Deng.
Deng has launched his own tech startup with an app called Boon. Deng says Boon “is a local college textbooks exchange platform for university students to more easily sell/trade their books with one another. The app automatically connects students with one another based on the textbooks they need to buy/sell… in the Louisville community.”
You then message the buyer, plan a time and place to make the exchange, and viola!
Payments are negotiated in person. Right now the app is free and free to use, but after a promotional period it will cost around 10 cents to list a book to sell/trade. Deng plans on selling sponsored ads on the platform as another source of revenue.
Deng was born in South Sudan and moved to Egypt when he was 6 because of the war and turmoil that still plagues that country. When he was 9, his family moved to Louisville where he attended Central High and then graduated from Spalding University with a dual degree in accounting and business administration.
“Currently I am working as finance manager at a nonprofit called Americana Community Center, which I’ve spent most of my time going to as an adolescent,” Deng told Insider. “I want to give back in more ways, but I believe this is a start.”
Hoping Boon is a boon for Deng!
Download it from the App Store here. — Melissa Chipman
UofL MBA ranks No. 37
With all the President Ramsey malarky happening over at the University of Louisville — with trustees withdrawing their support of Ramsey and the state auditor poking around the Ramsey-led University Foundation — it’s nice to see a little good U of L news.
Eduniversal, which ranks masters programs in 30 fields of study worldwide, recently ranked UofL’s full-time MBA #37 in the nation, its highest ever placement. None of our regional competitors makes it into the top 40.
Kudos to a program that had its own leadership woes just this time last year. People in the program were already speculating that newly-hired Business School Dean Carolyn M. Callahan was not the best fit for the school or the faculty. In April 2014, she stepped down from Dean abruptly following a contentious faculty meeting. She took a leave of absence and the position of Associate Provost instead.
But the new guy seems to be working out pretty well. MBA Program Executive Director T. Vernon Foster said, “Under the leadership of our interim dean, Dr. Rohan Christie-David, the College of Business is continually strengthening and elevating our MBA programs. The recent ranking of the Full-Time MBA by Best Masters is another example where the school is building a high quality program that provides a significant return on investment for the students.” —Melissa Chipman
Work starting on Blue Moo, Grangier talks Italian
Business at Lexington Road steakhouse Le Moo is going well, with the minor exception of some pesky cotton napkins.
As he sat down with Insider Louisville last week, Lee Moo owner Kevin Grangier was talking to a restaurant supplier about finding new napkins. Grangier explained that he wanted all-cotton napkins when the restaurant opened 16 weeks ago but later realized they tend to shed on customers. He is now on the hunt for better ones.
That is an example of some little tweaks restaurateurs need to make to ensure a quality experience.
Grangier, who also owns Village Anchor, said he overall is happy with how Le Moo, which just added lunch service, is operating. “The team’s doing a terrific job.”
As the main restaurant is starting to run more smoothly, work is set to begin on the final piece of Le Moo, a jazz and blues club at the back of the building called Blue Moo. The details are fluid, but Grangier said the current idea is to have a couple musicians who perform during the evening while guests enjoy dinner.
Diners would need to request to sit in Blue Moo, which is separated by doors from Le Moo. Grangier said he’s not sure if Blue Moo will offer full dinner service or a small plates menu.
Construction on Blue Moo is expected to be completed in time for Derby.
Meanwhile, Grangier also has an eye out for a space in the East End, possibly Middletown, for a casual, authentic Italian restaurant, something he said he’s wanted to do since before Le Moo. He did not have many details to divulge about the restaurant.
“I will define the concept based on the space available,” he said. And “develop something not like anything else in town.”
What about a name? Grangier said he’s toyed with some but did not want to commit to one just yet.
A few locals and local establishments get national shout-outs
In the latest issue of Garden & Gun magazine, two area women were named to its “Southern Hot List.” Master distiller Marianne Barnes and farm advocate Mary Berry were featured among the 26 people profiled — the former tagged “The Whiskey Wunderkind” and the latter “The Farm Aider.”
The magazine featured an illustration of Berry, daughter of Kentucky poet Wendell Berry, and a dazzling photo of Barnes at her under-construction distillery, formerly the Old Taylor Distillery.
Other names on the list include actor Danny McBride (“Eastbound & Down”), sports writer Clay Travis, author Katy Simpson Smith, and director Jeff Nichols.
Also getting a national name-drop last week — by the esteemed Wall Street Journal, that is — were cocktail bars Silver Dollar and Haymarket Whiskey Bar. They were mentioned in an article by Noah Rothbaum about the nightlife culture moving from sophisticated cocktail bars to more down-to-earth establishments that offer both a relaxed environment and quality drinks.
“Now, a new breed of watering hole is winning favor. These bars are mashups of sorts, combining the relaxed atmosphere of a dive or pub with the panache of craft cocktails (minus a superfluous ingredient or three). And while these haute dives might not take themselves overly seriously, they’re still committed to using top-shelf booze, fresh squeezed fruit juice and impressively large ice cubes.”
He examines such dive bars as St. Marks Place and the Boilermaker in New York City, but also reports on the trend spilling into smaller markets, like Louisville. Although we only nab one paragraph, it’s nice to be talked about:
“The trend has gone beyond the five boroughs, too. Louisville, Ky., boasts the Silver Dollar and the Haymarket Whiskey Bar, which both, naturally, offer long whiskey lists, as well as a generally lively atmosphere. The Haymarket has vintage pinball machines and skeeball, which you can play while sipping a bourbon highball.”
Kudos to everyone! —Sara Havens