Welcome to the March 21 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.
Hi-Five Doughnuts caps off new Butchertown development
The mobile Louisville bakery is opening a brick-and-mortar location at 1011 E. Main St. at the end of this year. Owners Annie Harlow and Leslie Wilson have been wheeling their delectable doughnuts around Louisville in their food truck, “Shelby,” for more than a year, meanwhile keeping their eye out for the perfect storefront.
The day Wilson left for a five-week trip to Asia this January, developer Andy Blieden called Harlow to entice her with the available ButcherBlock space. Harlow put off committing, telling him she couldn’t without her partner-in-creation, so naturally Blieden called Harlow once a week until Wilson’s return.
“Andy Blieden is a relentless man in all the best ways possible,” said Harlow.
“He courted us,” Wilson added.
The ladies have wanted a storefront since the beginning, but the opportunity to have a truck presented itself first. Now that Shelby is going gangbusters, it is the right time to open the store, according to the pair.
“With the storefront, it opens up a whole other level. It’s a game changer,” Wilson said, later adding that at least three out of every five customers asked where they can regularly find Hi-Five Doughnuts.
The store will open at the end of this year or possibly early next year, while the truck is hibernating for the winter. While winter can be a tough time to open a business, it will allow Harlow and Wilson time to get the shop running smoothly before truck season 2017 comes around.
“Shelby is an integral part of who we are,” Harlow said, “so Shelby will be out, but it’s just figuring out when and where.”
With the new store, they plan to hire at least one full-time employee to start as well as get help from family. Harlow half-joked that she planned to pull her mother-in-law, grandma and husband into the business.
For on-the-go customers, Hi-Five Doughnuts plans to offer curbside pickup as well as delivery. The menu will include Hi-Five Doughnuts’ build-your-own bar where customers can pick their toppings as well as pre-made doughnuts such as its custard-filled doughnuts and specialty creations like its fried chicken doughnut.
The store will offer limited seating. Harlow said they want to offer people a chance to sit and enjoy a few doughnuts but are counting on most people getting their fare to-go.
The design of the bakery is still in the works, but one unique detail about Hi-Five Doughnuts’ store will be its front door, which they plan to paint bright pink with sprinkles.
“We’re fun. We’re spunky. It’s gonna come through (in the design),” Wilson said.
New clothing boutique now open in Oxmoor Center
A new women’s clothing store debuted at Oxmoor Center in St. Matthews last week.
Called Bevello, the store sells brands including Free People, Splendid, Joe’s Jeans, French Connection, Sanctuary, Paige Denim, Lovers + Friends, Show Me Your MuMu, BCBGeneration, Sam Edelman, Hudson Jeans, Dolce Vita, House of Harlow 1960 and Kendra Scott, among others.
The company also has a location in Lexington and mostly operates in the Southwestern United States. The Louisville store is its 33rd in the country.
“Louisville was a natural fit for us. The city is very fashion-forward with southern charm, perfect for a women’s retailer like Bevello,” the company said in a statement sent to Insider Louisville. “Louisville offers big city amenities without sacrificing the small-town charm we love.” —Caitlin Bowling
Five Louisville winners at District 5 ADDYs
Five Louisville winners took home awards in the District 5 (power) ADDYs on March 12. The awards are an honor bestowed by the American Advertising Federation. The following fine folks will advance to the national finals.
- Atria Senior Living: two Golds, two Silvers
- Two Guys: one Gold, one Silver
- Mightily: two Silvers
- Red7e: one Silver
- Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: one Silver
EnterpriseCorp running a ‘Founders & Funders’ series
EnterpriseCorp is holding a three-part, casual informational series for our entrepreneurial community to learn from experts on various forms of startup financing.
The first in the series is at the iHub on March 22 at 4 p.m. Frost Brown Todd lawyer Bill Strench will discuss recent changes to the laws behind crowdfunding, and there will be a panel of entrepreneurs who have successfully crowdfunded. The panel includes Jon Clark with Prodigy Hoops and Flow Props; Matt Phillips with GE’s FirstBuild and the Opal Nugget Ice Maker; and Jennifer Williams with Cuddle Clones.
The second session, scheduled for April 13, will be on angel investing. The speakers will include active angel investors and successful startups that have raised angel capital. The third session, planned for later in April, is tentatively focused on private equity and is primarily directed at gazelle companies or second-stage entrepreneurs considering this form of capital for exponential growth.
The event is scheduled to be two hours. RSVP here. –Melissa Chipman
Future of former Kaelin’s building still unclear despite new ownership
The new owners of the former Kaelin’s Restaurant plan to renovate and lease the building but don’t have their hearts set on any particular tenant.
“It just seemed like something we oughta own,” said Jesse Flynn, owner and president of the commercial real estate development company Flynn Group.
Flynn owns the Kaelin’s building, a 50-space parking lot and the two-bedroom home beside it under the name Taylor Avenue LLC. He purchased both lots last week from River Valley Financial Bank for $657,734.
The bank bought the properties for $660,000 at auction last year and put it on the market in January.
Flynn plans to renovate the house and rent it out to students at nearby Bellarmine University, which Flynn Group already does with several other properties it owns nearby, he said. As for Kaelin’s, many details are still up in the air.
“We don’t have any immediate plans for it other than put everything back to code,” Flynn told IL last week. “We’ve owned it for a little over 24 hours. This is not a deep-thought process for me.”
Thus far, the plan is to upgrade Kaelin’s infrastructure, including the roof, heating, plumbing and electrical wiring.
“When you go into a 100-year-old building, there are a lot of odds and ends people don’t see that we would update,” Flynn said, adding that finding a restaurant tenant would be the most obvious way to go. But, he said, Flynn Group is open to various types of business.
The company has had the equipment that came with the restaurant appraised, but Flynn said he is unsure if they will sell it.
Funtown Mountain: Long strange trip coming to an end
The sad saga of Will Russell’s Funtown Mountain is finally coming to an end next month. Barren County Circuit Court has authorized Tranzon Auction to handle the sale of the property. The auction is set for April 20; interested parties can tour the property on April 13.
Laura Brooks, deputy director of communications for the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, told Insider: “They have already been contacted by potential buyers. In light of the current interest in the property, the Commonwealth is confident that it will recoup any monies owed by the former owner, who filed bankruptcy on Nov. 11, 2015 after receiving a loan from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority.”
The property is being sold in two tracts for a total of around 25.56 acres.
The Guntown Mountain roadside attraction first opened in 1969.
Louisville entrepreneur Will Russell, who owned two Why Louisville stores and co-founded Lewbowski Fest, fulfilled his lifelong dream of owning a roadside attraction when he bought the old Wild West-themed attraction and renamed it Funtown Mountain in early 2015. (I tagged along with him to the Mountain just before he closed on the sale.) In addition to the $250,000 loan from the tourism bureau, he had a similar sum in private investment.
But things soon began spiraling down: Russell was arrested in July for marijuana possession, menacing and resisting arrest. He was arrested again and held for a mental health evaluation. He defaced parts of Funtown Mountain and posted cryptic messages to social media.
The attraction closed, and Russell cited his struggles with addiction and bipolar disorder for the meltdown. He sought inpatient treatment and closed both WHY Louisville stores in November. Russell has been laying low ever since. —Melissa Chipman
New stuff from GearBrake, and a teaser…
Look for a bevy of new products from the folks behind GearBrake this spring, including GearBrake for trailers, LED lights in various colors and an accessory power output.
The company already has released a Motor Cycle Charging Station, which retails for just $19.95.
So what exactly does this new power output do?
“The majority of motorcycles don’t have any kind of power outlet to charge your phone or power devices like GPS,” GearBrake CEO Chris Bailey said in an email. “What we did was take a power outlet and combine it with our knowledge of motorcycle wiring connectors to allow people to simply plug in this charger to their vehicle. This saves them from having to locate and cut the appropriate wires.”
According to Bailey, the new product we should be keeping an eye on is Revio. The teaser website for the product says: “Connected technology that protects you and your ride. Track every aspect of your ride with a suite of performance and safety features to keep you riding safe and secure.” —Melissa Chipman
Home sales up 22.3 percent in February in Louisville MLS
The real estate business has continued to pick up in 2016, according to numbers recently released by the Greater Louisville Association of Realtors.
In February alone, home sales rose 22.3 percent, with 1,062 homes and condos sold. For the first two month of this year, home sales are up 13.6 percent.
The median home price for January and February was up 6.7 percent, with the median home price coming in at $148,000, GLAR reported.
“Our Realtor members saw a continuation of a sellers’ market with inventory down over 23 percent compared to this time last year. The lack of inventory was the driving factor in the median price increase of 6-7 percent,” GLAR President Greg Taylor said in a news release.
Nationally, the housing market also is seeing home price and sales increases.
“The housing market has shown promising resilience in recent months, but home prices are still rising too fast (in many areas) because of ongoing supply constraints,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said in the release. “Despite the global economic slowdown, the housing sector continues to recover and will likely help the U.S. economy avoid a recession.” —Caitlin Bowling
Wild Turkey to set free another Master’s Keep release: Decades
Last summer, Wild Turkey released Master’s Keep, a 17-year-old bourbon that marked two milestones: 1) It was the first hand-selected release by master distiller Eddie Russell, son of Jimmy (who goes by the title “master of all master distillers”). 2) It was the longest-aged whiskey released by the company since in its inception in 1940. It was so well received by consumers, the Russells are planning another Master’s Keep release, this time with the subtitle of “Decades.”
Insider recently took a trip to the Lawrenceburg distillery (look for more on that soon), and tour brand ambassador Matt Gandolfo spilled the beans on Decades, which gets its name because it blends barrels aged between 10 and 20 years. Another release by Eddie, it’s on par with the flavor profile of the first Master’s Keep but will be bottled at 104 proof (compared to the original’s 86.8).
The barrels were chosen from the center and upper floors of Wild Turkey’s McBrayer rick house, which often produce bold and vibrant bourbons. And while Gandolfo didn’t have any samples to share, he says we should look for Decades to hit on store shelves in May. Master’s Keep retailed for $150, so we’re guessing it’ll be in that ballpark. —Sara Havens
Ford Motor Co. patents rolling movie theaters
Forget self-driving vehicles. They’re so last year. Instead, Ford Motor Co. wants you to be chauffeured in autonomous rolling movie theaters.
So bring your popcorn, recline the seat and lower the giant screen that blocks the view through your windshield.
Ford revealed its plans for an “Autonomous Vehicle Entertainment System” this month in filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Ford writes that autonomous vehicles “can relieve occupants, especially the driver, from some driving-related responsibilities.” You know, like texting.
Joking aside, auto and tech companies have for years worked on self-driving cars in the interest of safety. Google says autonomous vehicles can dramatically reduce the more than 30,000 annual traffic deaths in the U.S., of which 94 percent involve human error. Plus, self-driving vehicles could allow older drivers and the visually impaired to retain their independence.
The idea of self-driving cars also makes sense from an efficiency standpoint: Rather than paying attention to driving their vehicles, commuters could spend time reading news websites, finishing a spreadsheet or watching the latest episodes of “House of Cards.”
With Ford’s entertainment system, you could step into your car in Louisville, set the autopilot for Orlando, Fla., and watch the entire “Lord of the Rings” trilogy on the way. Now if they could only invent cars that can also autonomously fill up their gas tanks. —Boris Ladwig
Brown-Forman master distiller recognized
Brown-Forman Master Distiller Chris Morris has been inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame.
The magazine said the induction serves as a “permanent tribute honoring those noteworthy individuals who have made a lasting contribution to the world of whisky.”
Morris, a Louisville native, is Woodford Reserve’s master distiller, the seventh since Brown Forman was launched in 1870. Three generations of Morris’ family have worked for the company.
Morris began his career with Brown-Forman in 1976 as a trainee. After stints with Glenmore Distilleries Co. and United Distillers, he returned to the Louisville-based company in 1997.
Brown-Forman said Morris “developed the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection, Double Oaked, Rye and Distillery Series products.” He was named Brown-Forman’s VP of Whiskey Innovation last year.
Morris also serves as chairman of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.
Louisville needs a pick-me-up? Just more bourbon.
Apparently we’re all a bunch of Debbie Downers on Twitter here in Louisville. “The Brandwatch Report/Twitter Happiness Report: A Study of Positive and Negative Emotions Expressed on Twitter” said that Louisville was the least positive city out of the ones they studied. Denver was the most positive.
At least we’re not in the most hateful state (that’s Louisiana) or the city that uses the most racist slurs against black people (Baltimore).
But really, what they studied were people talking about their “day” or their “life,” but we here in Louisville know that we have a code for happiness that didn’t get picked up on their radar.
We tweet things like “Drinking bourbon” or “watching college basketball” and every one of our friends on Twitter knows that means the same thing as “I’m having a great day.” Silly analysts. –Melissa Chipman