Welcome to the July 4 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.
Now that we’re officially halfway through 2016, we decided to dedicate this Fourth of July edition of MBB to reviewing some of IL’s most-read business stories so far this year. Read on to learn more about these buzz-worthy biz scoops — along with a few updates.
Big Business and Real Estate
When General Electric announced in January that it had agreed to sell its Louisville-based appliances division to Qingdao Haier, some of the 6,000 local employees and officials got worried.
Their worries mirrored those of some New Zealanders in 2012, when Haier acquired appliance maker Fisher & Paykel.
The New Zealanders worried about a Chinese conglomerate taking over a venerable domestic company that dates back to 1934. They worried about job cuts. They worried about the loss of an iconic brand.
Many New Zealanders have a real emotional attachment to Fisher & Paykel — much like Americans have to GE — because they grew up with the company’s appliances in their homes, said Chris Adams, who covered the F&P takeover as business reporter for the New Zealand Herald.
But, Adams, said, in the end, many of the locals’ fears were unfounded, because Haier freed Fisher & Paykel from a mountain of debt, invested in research and development, and even hired engineers.
A Haier official told Insider Louisville that the Fisher & Paykel acquisition will serve as a model for the GE purchase.
Haier completed the acquisition of GE Appliances on June 6 with ceremonies that included the planting of trees at Appliance Park. Some challenges remain, including the negotiation for a new contract for the hourly workers. And for many employees, especially those with a decades-long relationship with the iconic GE brand, the day was bittersweet.
The transition, however, has run smoothly, according to company officials, the work has continued, and local leaders hope that being part of the world’s largest appliance maker will offer some opportunities for growth. —Boris Ladwig
A large parcel that could become a defining part of the NuLu neighborhood is under contract to be sold.
The potential buyer remains unknown as are the buyer’s plans for the property, but the property, which sits along East Main Street between Clay and Shelby streets, is a prime location for a mixed-use development.
Tyler Smith, executive vice president of PRG Commercial Property Advisors, declined to provide an update on the progress of the sale, share how long the due diligence period is, or give an idea of when it could be sold.
But we’ll let you know when we know more.
Back in early January, our real estate expert Tre Pryor took us on a window-shopping journey through Louisville’s most elite neighborhoods. He stayed within the parameters of Jefferson County and looked at areas of town where houses sold for more than $500,000.
What did he find? No surprise in the No. 1 spot — Harrod’s Glen in the East End took the prize, with the average home selling for $1,911,667. Yowza! Nabbing second place was Cherokee Hills with the average home at $1,093,800. And third place went to Spring Farm Place, a subdivision off Wolf Pen. The average home there sold for $1,062,500. —Sara Havens
The Food and Bev Biz
A fried chicken and beer joint is moving into the El Camino space in the Highlands later this year.
The Eagle, which started in Cincinnati, isn’t expected to open until this fall. Meanwhile, El Camino is moving to a new smaller location less than 2 miles away.
IL reached out to one of El Camino’s owners, Shawn Cantley, but did not hear back by press time. The restaurant is still operating at the Bardstown Road site but at some point will shut down so that The Eagle can move in.
El Camino will reopen in an as-yet-unknown space. —Caitlin Bowling
Three months later, it’s still hard to believe, but Lynn Winter sold Lynn’s Paradise Cafe to a Tennessee company called The Fresh Capital Group.
IL has reached out to The Fresh Capital Group a few times since the sale, but there is still no word on what the restaurant will become. However, it will likely be from the cadre of small and large chains that the company already has in its portfolio, which includes El Pollo Loco, 5 Bar, Little Donkey, Trader Joe’s, Tellini’s Italiano, Wendy’s and Papa John’s. —Caitlin Bowling
The opening is nigh.
Since this story ran back in January, HopCat has announced that the nearly 12,000-square-foot restaurant will open on July 30, and the first 200 customers will receive a card entitling them to a free order of “Crack Fries” each week for a year.
“I believe we’ve created a location that will serve as a hub for Kentucky craft beers and a magnet for local beer lovers as well as those visiting Louisville from around the world,” Mark Sellers, founder and CEO of HopCat, said in a new release about the opening. HopCat will have more than 130 beers on tap.
HopCat is looking to hire 200 employees. Those looking for a job can stop by HopCat at 1064 Bardstown Road between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
In March, we shared the news about a new Germantown bar taking over the spot left vacant by Pauly’s Schnitzelbzurg Pub at the corner of Goss and Texas (which was recently purchased by a real estate development group called Double Barrelled). Called The Pearl, it’ll be a new concept by El Camino and Silver Dollar co-owner Larry Rice and a handful of partners.
The group wants the place to have a chill, corner-bar-type feel, and it’ll focus on cocktails but also offer affordable drinks and all types of beer. Highlights include a free jukebox with a rotating collection of 45s, a light menu of pickled fare, and a spin-the-drink-wheel during happy hour (love those!).
There is no kitchen in the bar, and it’ll stay that way. However, Rice said various food trucks will park out back in case patrons want something more than pickled eggs or free popcorn and/or roasted nuts.
We checked in with Rice this week, and he says The Pearl is slated to open July 31. —Sara Havens
In April we reported that there was a new coffeehouse going into the ever-booming Goss Avenue corridor at 1138 Goss. Coffee roaster and Germantown resident Billy Seckman expects Bean to be open by early-to-mid July and is actively sharing updates about the space on their Facebook page.
The 1,800-square-foot space is owned by Alex Frommeyer, founder and CEO of dental tech company Beam Technologies, and Shane Uttich, vice president of sales for Neace Ventures.
Fro also owns The Pearl, across the street, with Amelia Gandara, director of commercialization and engagement for Greater Louisville Inc.’s entrepreneurial arm EnterpriseCorp; and Gant Hill, president and principal broker for Gant Hill & Associates.
Bean will offer small food items from Wiltshire Pantry and North End Cafe.
On June 15, Chef Edward Lee said he would honor the 49 victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre by donating the profits from his restaurants Milkwood and 610 Magnolia over the next 49 days to Louisville Youth Group, a nonprofit that serves LGBT youth ages 14 through 20 in Louisville and Southern Indiana. It serves about 40 kids each week.
You still have until Aug. 3 to support Lee’s endeavor.
Lee guessed that the profits for the 49 days would amount to anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000.
I did my part and visited Milkwood last week. I highly recommend the fried chicken dinner washed down by the Toy Tiger, with Bulleit Rye, gentian and orange juice. It’s like a fancy Old Fashioned.
Lee consulted with Louisville artist and social entrepreneur Theo Edmonds about the donation.
The Al J. Schneider family saga continues, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight despite the fact that an impartial third party has taken over the dissolution of the family trust.
The legal case, which has siblings pitted against each other, only gets more confusing and intricate as time passes. In IL’s more recent report, two of the late businessman Al J. Schneider’s daughters, Mary Moseley and Dawn Hitron, asked a judge to award them punitive and compensatory damages after a lawsuit filed by their sisters Nancy O’Hearn and Christe Coe prevented the sale of the Galt House Hotel downtown.
Most recently, WDRB News reported that Louisville developer Eric Bachelor, who co-owns the Embassy Suites downtown with The Al J. Schneider Co., filed a separate lawsuit against the company and Moseley claiming that his co-owners mismanaged the hotel, which now faces foreclosure.
Search “Al J. Schneider” on IL’s home page for all the stories related to the case and the attempted sale of assets owned by The Al J. Schneider Co. —Caitlin Bowling
Just before 2016 began, the owners of The Connection sued competing LGBT nightclub Play Dance Bar for allegedly encouraging a popular drag performer to breach his exclusive contract, thus damaging their business.
The Connection owners had sued Bryan Carpio – who performs under the stage name Aubrey Jolie – earlier in 2015 for violating a contract stating he would perform exclusively at their bar, then going on to only perform at Play that year. Carpio’s attorneys argued that he was deceived and coerced by The Connection into signing a contract in order to be paid for one performance in late 2014, and the owners of Play filed a countersuit against The Connection last week — presenting a contract Carpio had signed four days earlier to perform exclusively at Play for two years.
Retail and Recreation
This spring, we broke the news of a national liquor superstore setting its sights on 24,387 square feet in The Paddock Shops. The Maryland-based Total Wine & More is still slated to open in the fall, and it will be the first one in our general area — the closest of their 134 stores being Brentwood, Mo.
The competitively priced store will stock more than 8,000 wines, 2,500 beers and 3,000 spirits and will naturally include Kentucky-made products as well. They’ll also be hiring between 45 and 55 employees to man the superstore. —Sara Havens
This story was just reported a couple weeks ago, so there’s no update yet, but expect some new news later this year.
Weston Marcum, owner of Louisville investment capital firm LEVO Capital, bought Vernon Club & Lanes for $775,000 on June 8 and said he plans to renovate the 140-year-old building to bring back some of original charm.
It will remain a bowling alley, but when he talked to IL, Marcum alluded to future development, declining to provide additional information. So the bowling alley could share a home with a business office, a retail store or some other type of development. At least for now, we’ll have to wait to find out. —Caitlin Bowling
Last, But Not Least — Helicopters
To be honest, IL doesn’t typically make it out as far to Anchorage unless we are passing by on the way out of town — or possibly to dine at The Village Anchor. Think of M. Night Shyamalan’s movie The Village, but replace the trees with the Watterson Expressway.
It felt a little bit like we were spies infiltrating a strange land when attending a meeting at a golf club about Papa John’s founder John Schnatter’s helicopter usage.
Residents of the East End Louisville community had mixed feelings about Schnatter landing a helicopter on his property. Some said it shook their houses and is a noise nuisance; others said the helicopter flying over Anchorage wasn’t a big deal and kind of cool. A few people noted Schnatter’s substantial investment in the community, but a couple were concerned that allowing Schnatter to land and take off from his home would open the door for others to follow suit.
Schnatter is applying for the right to build a helipad on his property for the helicopter with the city of Anchorage, and the city will have to decide whether to allow it. The city has no regulations regarding helicopter use. —Caitlin Bowling