Welcome to the Jan. 21 Monday Business Briefing, your weekly business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Sapporo opening second location

Sapporo is a popular local sushi restaurant. | Courtesy of Sapporo

When a building along Bardstown Road in the Highlands goes vacant, there often is significant interest — especially if the property has a handful of parking spaces, a scant commodity in the bustling commercial corridor.

As suspected, it didn’t take long for Orbin Greene, the owner of 1055 Bardstown Road, to find a motivated replacement for Buffalo Wild Wings, which closed around Thanksgiving. Even Insider got an inquiry from someone interested in reaching Greene.

As of last week, a lease was signed. The new tenant, Greene told Insider, is already a familiar face along Bardstown Road. Mi Kim and U Kim, the owners of Sapporo Grill & Sushi, will open a second Bardstown Road location the former Buffalo Wild Wings.

“We are excited. It is local people, and our daughters both eat at their place,” Greene said.

Greene noted that he received a number of inquiries about the space including one for a brewery.

“I was just very selective,” he said. “She (Mi Kim) would be a better fit for that area, and what I really like is she will be open for lunch.”

Lunch would be different for Sapporo, which is currently open only for dinner at its longtime location, 1706 Bardstown Road. Greene also revealed that the Kims will have sushi at the new location but are exploring offering Japanese barbecue, rather than Hibachi, which is part of its current menu.

Insider reached out to the Kims but could not reach them by press time. —Caitlin Bowling

Fed: U.S., Louisville economic activity increasing modestly

Cranes towered over the Omni Louisville construction site in 2017. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Economic activity in the Louisville area increased slightly in November, according to the Federal Reserve Bank, mirroring national trends.

The St. Louis Fed said that consumer spending has increased modestly, as year-over-year real sales collections have increased in states including Kentucky.

“Reports from Louisville auto dealers indicated that auto sales do not seem to have been affected by rising interest rates,” the St. Louis Fed said.

Activity in the manufacturing and banking industries improved at a moderate or modest pace, while conditions in the nonfinancial services sector were unchanged.

Farmers reported high crop yields but voiced concerns over low crop prices and continued trade tensions.

Residential real estate activity improved slightly from October, but inventory levels remained low. Meanwhile, residential construction activity was flat, and the St. Louis Fed said that contacts in Louisville “expressed concern regarding rising interest rates and the rising cost of building homes.”

Commercial real estate activity also improved slightly from October, and Louisville contacts reported higher demand for retail property types compared to a year ago. Construction activity in the commercial sector was flat, however, with Louisville contacts reporting robust multi-family construction but also a “lack of new warehouse construction.” —Boris Ladwig

Magnolia & Fig boutique reopens in new space

The boutique recently got its own storefront. | Courtesy of Magnolia & Fig Facebook

The owner of women’s boutique Magnolia & Fig has upgraded from a smaller space within her mother’s business to her own, larger storefront in Middletown.

Stephanie Susemichel announced in a news release that the business moved into a remodeled, 2,700-square-foot retail shop at 12623 Shelbyville Road and will host a grand opening on Feb. 2. Magnolia & Fig officially reopened on Jan. 3.

The shop, which stocks women’s clothing, accessories, shoes and decor, previously operated in a 1,000-square-foot space inside Secret Garden, a gardening, gift and home decor store that is owned by Susemichel’s mother Cheryl Susemichel.

Secret Garden will use the added space for a room filled with houseplants, fountains and Tuscan pottery. It also will host painting and gardening classes, among other workshops. The business is celebrating 23 years of operation.

The hours of operation for both Magnolia & Fig and Secret Garden are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. —Caitlin Bowling

HOWE Real Estate adds a new partner, division

Scott Gilmore | Courtesy of Howe Real Estate

Local commercial real estate firm HOWE Real Estate has nearly doubled in size and is branching out into new territory.

Scott Howe and Stewart Howe founded the young businesses in 2017 after working in real estate for others for six and nine years, respectively, and brought on Lisa Corpus, who has 19 years experience, as an associate.

The partners recently became a trio of leadership by adding Scott Gilmore, a commercial real estate agent with 11 years of experience, as a partner, HOWE Real Estate announced in a news release. Gilmore served as a vice president at CBRE, specializing in retail.

They’ve also added Anthony Raspberry, who worked at Gant Hill & Associates with Scott Howe, to lead their new residential real estate division as president of the division. Previously, the company has focused heavily on commercial real estate.

Since its founding, the business has continued to grow, the release states, with the firm recently exceeding $15 million in transactional volume. —Caitlin Bowling

Strong support for statewide smoke-free law

Courtesy of Pixabay

Most Kentucky adults favor the idea of adopting a statewide smoke-free law and upping the legal age for purchasing tobacco to 21, according to the results of a Kentucky Health Issues Poll.

Sixty-six percent of respondents said they support prohibiting smoking in public places, according to the telephone poll of more than 1,500 Kentucky adults. That’s down from 71 percent in 2017.

At 77 percent, Democrats were more likely to support the idea than Republicans (62 percent) and independents (55 percent).

Fifty-six percent of Kentucky adults said they favor raising the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21, a move that might reduce the smoking rate and smoking-related deaths as well as teen experimentation with tobacco, according to the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which co-sponsored the poll with Interact for Health.

“Neither proposal is the subject of a bill in the 2019 legislative session, but it’s important for policymakers to recognize both that these laws work, and that the public strongly supports them,” said the foundation’s chief executive Ben Chandler in a news release. —Darla Carter

In Brief

Boxcar Public Relations announced that it had acquired an online crisis communication portal. Terms were not disclosed.

Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates announced that 2018 was a record-setting year. It cared for 134 organ donors, resulting in 423 organs transplanted. That’s the highest number of organ donors and organs transplanted in KODA’s 32-year history, according to the organization.

Churchill Downs this week will complete its previously announced three-for-one stock split. When the stock is split at the close of business Friday, shareholders will get two additional shares of stock for each share they own. At the same time, the stock price will be divided by three.