Welcome to the April 9 Monday Business Briefing, your business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

BBC set to reopen this week in new Kindred headquarters

Bluegrass Brewing Co. is reopening in Theatre Square after three years. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

After a three-year absence from South Fourth Street, Bluegrass Brewing Co. (BBC) is slated to open sometime this week — possibly today, according to co-owner Beau Kerley.

The interior was mostly together when Kerley spoke to Insider Louisville briefly last week, but the restaurant still needed to undergo its final inspection, clean up construction dust and other last minute details.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said.

BBC operated a location in Theater Square a few years ago, but it closed to allow Kindred Healthcare — its landlord — to build a brand-new headquarters on the site, 680 S. Fourth St. The $40 million, six-story office building opened in January.

The new restaurant seats about 140 inside and 70 on an outdoor patio, and features a new state-of-the-art kitchen. General manager Brad Culver will run the location.

Keep an eye out on social media and the restaurant for BBC to open. —Caitlin Bowling

Pay for Texas Roadhouse’s CEO declines slightly

Texas Roadhouse CEO Kent Taylor’s total compensation decreased 4.6 percent, to $6.4 million in 2017, according to the company’s proxy statement.

Taylor took home a base salary of $525,000, with his incentive-based compensation and stock grants declining slightly.

Texas Roadhouse’s Chief Marketing Officer Chris Jacobsen also saw his total compensation decrease last year. Jacobsen earned $902,317, a change of 6.1 percent.

The steakhouse’s two other named executives saw a jump in pay.

Scott Colosi, president and CFO of Texas Roadhouse, earned $3.9 million, a 15.8 percent increase, in 2017. Compensation for the chain’s General Counsel Celia Catlett rose 40.3 percent to $1.2 million last year. —Caitlin Bowling

JCPS teachers’ wish lists fulfilled by surprise donor

JCPS teachers received nearly $100,000 for supplies, laptops and athletic gear from a surprise multimillion-dollar donation on a education-focused crowdfunding site.

Ripple, a San Fransisco technology company, donated $29 million to fully fund more than 35,000 requests across the country on Donorschoose.org. More than 100 donor requests from 98 JCPS teachers were funded in the one-day donation, according to a JCPS news release.

JCPS teachers had requests, some on the site for months, for a variety of items to boost their classroom and aid in projects. Danielle Dolack, a middle school teacher at Marion C. Moore School, asked for nearly $3,000 for more Chromebooks, while William Barnett, a teacher at Knight Middle, was raising money to help start a baseball team at the school.

Rebecca Reynolds, a first-grade teacher at Klondike Elementary, had three projects funded.

“I am over the moon,” Reynolds said in the release. “My guided reading lessons and word work are about to be kicked up a million notches! With these tools, my students are going to be able to excel thanks to you!”

Ripple’s donation provided just over $96,000 for JCPS efforts, combining with previous individual donations to a total of $107,844 in funding, according to the release. —Olivia Krauth

Ford: F-series sales solid, Escape demand falls

2018 Lincoln Navigator. | Courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

Ford sales improved in March, but demand for the two primary Louisville-made vehicles, the Super Duty pickup and the Escape SUV, are trending in different directions.

Ford said it sold about 244,000 vehicles in March, up 3.4 percent from a year ago. Demand for cars fell 7 percent, but rose 7.3 percent for SUVs and 6.7 percent for trucks.

However, demand for Escape, made exclusively at Louisville Assembly Plant, fell 2.6 percent, to 27,370. It marked the third consecutive month of year-over-year decline for the SUV. For the year, Escape sales are down 11.8 percent.

Meanwhile, sales for the F-series truck, which includes the Super Duty, have risen in each of the first three months of this year. For March, F-series sales improved 7 percent, to just above 87,000.

Workers at Kentucky Truck Plant also are staying busy because of higher-than-expected demand for the Lincoln Navigator, demand for which tripled compared to last year. Ford had said earlier this year that is was pumping an additional $25 million into the plant — on top of the previously announced $900 million — to boost production. Ford said it sold nearly 1,300 Navigators last month. The vehicle is the Ford Expedition SUV’s luxury cousin and starts at about $72,000 — but it can easily cost more than $100,000.

Ford said most customers are opting for higher-end versions of the Navigator, which helped push up the average transaction price by more than $25,000.

Mark LaNeve, Ford VP for U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service, said demand for the Navigator “is off the charts.”  —Boris Ladwig

Ford issues recalls

Speaking of Ford, the company issued two transmission-related recalls Friday, both affecting SUVs made at Kentucky truck plant — though primarily about trucks made elsewhere.

Ford recalled about 350,000 F-150, F-650, F-750 and Expedition vehicles with 6- and 10-speed automatic transmissions because of an issue that may allow the transmission to be a different gear than the driver selected with the gear shift.

The recall affects trucks made in Michigan, Kansas and Ohio, and 2018 Ford Expeditions made at Kentucky Truck Plant between April 3, 2017 and Jan. 30.

The automaker also recalled 161 F-150, Mustang, Expedition and Navigator vehicles because a potentially missing pin may, upon repeated use, disable the vehicle’s park function, which means that while the gear shift and instrument panel may show the vehicle to be parked, the vehicle may begin to roll.

The recall affects F-150s and Mustangs made in Michigan and Kansas, as well as 2018 Ford Expeditions made at KTP from Nov. 28 to Feb. 14, and Lincoln Navigators made at KTP from Dec. 13 to March 8.  —Boris Ladwig

Waterfront Park adds river kayaking

Louisville Kayak Company is bringing its tour services to Waterfront Park, starting May 25.

Waterfront Development Corp., which oversees the park, will receive a 10 percent cut of the gross revenue from Louisville Kayak Company’s operations in the park.

“The kayak vendor serves a dual purpose — it provides additional revenue for the park and also provides a fun new activity/opportunity for park visitors,” Margaret Walker, information officer for Waterfront Development Corp., said in an email.

The Waterfront Development Corp. has been seeking ways to increase its revenue — including bringing in a 137-foot Ferris wheel — to help cover a budget shortfall created by the state, which up until a few years ago provided annual allocations to the park. The park was once again left out of the state’s recently passed biennial budget.

Last year, the organization, facing a $240,000 deficit, considered starting to charge for parking in its lots, but a collection of donors swooped in to cover the downfall and stave off paid parking at least for two years. —Caitlin Bowling

Con Huevos sets open date for its Holiday Manor location

Con huevos

Popular breakfast spot Con Huevos will open its second location, a larger 3,000-square-foot space at Holiday Manor, on Saturday, April 14.

The 100-seat restaurant is located between Moore Jewelry and the AT&T store in the shopping center, 4938 U.S. Hwy 42.

Insider Louisville previously reported on Con Huevos plans to expand into a second location, which is just the start of what owners Izmene Peredo and Jesus Martinez hope will become a small chain of Con Huevos restaurants. Once the Holiday Manor location opens, the owners also plan to invest in expanding their flagship location, 2339 Frankfort Ave., into a former flower shop next door.

The hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the week and 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekends. —Caitlin Bowling

Nancy’s Bagel Grounds opens downtown pop-up shop

Anne Fuller, left, and Nancy Haner Grantz pose outside Nancy’s Bagel Grounds. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Having recently closed the doors to its longtime home on Frankfort Avenue, Nancy’s Bagel Grounds has opened a pop-up location at 104 W. Main St. — at least until its new location at 225 S. Spring St. is ready.

Insider Louisville previously reported that Nancy’s Bagel Grounds is moving into Willingers Beer Depot following building renovations. The new location, which will allow the business to add breakfast sandwiches and expand its lunch sandwich options, is expected to open sometime later this month.

In the meantime, its bagels can be found at its Fourth Street location, Days Coffee, Highland Coffee, McQuixote Books & Coffee, Bean, Base Camp Coffee, Sunergos Coffee and now its pop-up store at First and Main streets. The store was formerly Hillbilly Tea.

According to its Facebook page, the pop-up location will remain open until the Spring Street location opens. However, a manager with Nancy’s Bagel Grounds indicated that the Main Street store could stay open longer if business is good. —Caitlin Bowling

Semifinalists compete in Venture Sharks today

The 9th annual Venture Sharks competition kicks off on Monday at 5:30 p.m. at the Muhammad Ali Center with eight entrepreneurs presenting business plans to a panel of “venture sharks.” The field will be narrowed to four finalists, who will then vie for more than $30,000 in cash and prizes at Venture Connectors’ regular monthly lunch on Wednesday, May 2, also at the Muhammad Ali Center. RSVPs to the both events are required at www.ventureconnectors.org.

According to Venture Connectors, the semifinalists are:
  • Crispy Club, a conversational commerce tool offering design-driven products
  • Desicorp, developer of a dried blood transfusion unit
  • Get Clean Online.com, a do-it-yourself, home-based addiction recovery program
  • Innovative Therapeutix Inc., developer of LullaFeed, a feeding device for infants that uses music reinforcement
  • MyNurse, a mobile platform that enables patients and families to easily find a caregiver in real time by geolocation
  • Parasite ID LLC, developer of a test strip for lice
  • TackleHack.com, an open-source e-commerce marketplace dedicated to hunting, fishing and outdoor goods
  • White Dog Data LLC, developer of a wireless sensor used in distilling barrels

In Brief

A week ago, Space Tango launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 40 carrying new customer payloads to the International Space Station. The launch went off as planned — as of Friday, according to Kris Kimel, co-founder of Space Tango, “all of our experiments are being installed and powered up in our labs on ISS.”

Startup Weekend Louisville kicks off on Friday, April 13, at 6 p.m. at the Interapt Skills Training building at 1226 Rowan Street. Some 54 hours later, competitors will have created a company from scratch in the hopes of winning prizes and accolades, but also for the learning experience.

C&H Audio Visual Services is moving into newly renovated headquarters located at 4850 Crittenden Drive, according to a news release. The new HQ is more than double the size of the company’s previous 13,000 square foot space at 942 East Kentucky Street in the Hope Mills building, the release said.

Club Pilates and CycleBar plan to open side-by-side studios in the Middletown Shops this spring. According to a release, Club Pilates will open on April 26 and CycleBar on May 1.