Welcome to the Oct. 15 Monday Business Briefing, your weekly business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Bluegrass Burgers reopening as Burger Boy Diner

Bluegrass Burgers was owned by Falls City Hospitality Group. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

Looks like the Bluegrass Burgers building, 3334 Frankfort Ave., won’t sit vacant for long.

After Insider Louisville reported that the burger joint had suddenly shuttered without explanation, Chip Hamm, a partner with Falls City Hospitality Group, reached out to let Insider know what’s been happening behind the scenes.

The company’s lease for the building was expiring, Hamm said. “The best option for us is to narrow our interests.”

Amid the decision to close, though, the restaurant group helped bring in restaurateur Dan Borsch to fill the building. Borsch plans to open his second Burger Boy Diner in the space sometime before Thanksgiving.

He told Insider that he’d been looking for a place for a while, but nothing quite worked until the Bluegrass Burgers space.

“I have been looking for another growth opportunity for the Burger Boy Diner concept,” he said. “Once I saw the space and the location, I thought it fit exactly what I was looking for. I love the vibe and feel of the neighborhood.”

Borsch said they only plan to make cosmetic changes, including signs and painting. The location will employ 20 to 30 people.

Borsch also co-owns Old Louisville Pizza Co., Old Louisville Tavern and Toonerville Deli with Scott Lukemire. The new Burger Boy Burger will be his first foray outside of the Old Louisville neighborhood, where all his restaurants are currently located.

“Old Louisville has been good to us,” he said. “We want to give a shot to trying the concept in another location and see what the viability is. … I like the Burger Boy concept. It’s doing well.”

Hamm said he’s known Borsch for years and is happy to see him expand Burger Boy Diner.

“He has the vision and passion to do something special here,” he said.

Falls City Hospitality Group took over ownership and management of Bluegrass Burgers from Deb Carter roughly a year ago. Its closure leaves Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar as Fall City Hospitality Group’s only restaurant in operation. —Caitlin Bowling

Papa John’s announces reorganization, promotions

In order to “improve the experience that customers have with Papa John’s and accelerate growth,” Papa John’s stated, the Louisville-based pizza chain has made some changes to its organizational structure and promoted several management-level employees.

In a late Friday news release, Papa John’s announced that Mike Nettles, senior vice president and chief information and digital officer, is now the company’s executive vice president and chief operating and growth officer. Nettles’ duties overseeing new roles created “around each consumer touch point.”

The new roles and titleholders are:

  • Justin Falciola has been promoted to senior vice president and chief analytics and technology officer. He previously served as vice president of global enterprise architecture.
  • Anne Fischer has been promoted to senior vice president of customer experience. She previously served as vice president of product management.
  • Paul Fabre has been promoted to senior vice president of menu strategy and innovation. He previously served as vice president of research and development and quality assurance.
  • Melissa Richards-Person has been promoted to senior vice president and chief brand officer. She previously served as vice president of global brand strategy and consumer connections.

“Improving how we engage with our customers is core to the new operating priorities announced earlier this year. By aligning our leadership structure around the customer experience, our team’s diverse talents will be leveraged to drive enterprisewide change and pioneer new innovations that accelerate the Company’s growth,” Steve Ritchie, president and CEO of Papa John’s, said in the release.

Ritchie added that Nettles has “significantly elevated” consumers’ experiences with Papa John’s through improvements to the company’s digital and mobile platforms. The release states that Nettles established new partnerships with Facebook Instant Ordering, Amazon Alexa and DoorDash, as well as key data and analytics capabilities around store operations and customer engagement. —Caitlin Bowling

Analyst: Ford’s $11B restructuring plan to eliminate 24,000 jobs

Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant. | Courtesy of Ford, Sam VarnHagen

While Ford Motor Co. has provided few details about its $11 billion restructuring plan, industry analysts estimate that the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker will cut its global workforce by about 24,000.

The automaker employs about 202,000 across the globe, including 86,000 in the U.S. According to a story by NBC News, analysts at Morgan Stanley projected Ford would reduce its workforce by about 12 percent.

The company has announced that it needs to restructure its business to remove costs but has provided few details. The Detroit News reported last week that the company does not expect to know details of the cuts before the second quarter of next year but that job cuts are “not expected to affect hourly workers.”

Ford could not be reached to say how many people it currently employs in Louisville, what share of those employees are salaried or how the restructuring efforts would affect its operations in Louisville, which include two large factories that primarily manufacture the Ford Escape and Super Duty.

SUVs and trucks have generally sold well and generated a profit, in part because consumers increasingly have opted for more expensive models, which has boosted the company’s average transaction price. However, lackluster car sales prompted Ford this year to announce plans to stop selling sedans in the U.S. altogether.

NBC said the automaker has to increase its efficiency: Ford sells 32.8 vehicles per employee, while General Motors sells 52.7.

Investors have steered away from the venerable automaker. Shares dipped below $9 last week for the first time in six years.

While NBC reported that “President Donald Trump’s auto tariffs have impacted the company to the tune of $1 billion,” Ford has told Insider that the company merely has internally projected that tariffs will increase its steel and other metal costs by $1 billion for 2018 and 2019 combined. The company would not say whether it would absorb all of that cost or pass some of it to consumers through higher vehicle prices.

United Auto Workers Local 862, the labor union that represents Ford’s hourly Louisville workers, could not be reached for comment. —Boris Ladwig

GE Appliances introduces app-guided cooking

Courtesy of GE Appliances

GE Appliances has teamed up with California-based Hestan Smart Cooking to offer an app-guided cooking system that allows consumers to prepare meals with a video-guided recipe and temperature-sensing cookware.

The tech, called Hestan Cue, will guide customers during the cooking process via their smart devices, while a temperature-sensing pan will “automatically adjust the pan temperature and monitor the cook time,” GEA said in a news release.

Brian McWaters, GEA’s senior commercial director, said that the collaboration between the companies will enable customers to try new recipes and learn new cooking skills.

“The combination of app-based guided cooking and precision temperature control will help you turn your gourmet aspirations into an everyday reality,” McWaters said in the release.

While GEA has pushed smart tech on its appliances, including a kitchen hub with an over-the-range video display and connected devices that allow customers to preheat their ovens with their voice or to be notified when a filter needs to be changed, an industry analyst told Insider that consumers have adopted such devices rather slowly, in part because of their price.

The Hestan tech will be available on GEA’s higher-end ranges in the Café line, which can easily cost $3,500, as well as cooktops, which go for more than $2,000. With each purchase, customers will get a Hestan Cue pan that will communicate with the app and burner. Boris Ladwig

HopCat adds game room; another in Parkland gets upgraded

The new game room | Courtesy of HopCat

What does Bardstown Road restaurant HopCat and the nonprofit Parkland Boys & Girls Club have in common: game rooms.

HopCat just added a game room on to the back of the bar and restaurant where customers can get a drink and food while playing arcades games, video games like Mario Cart on a Nintendo Switch or traditional bar games like darts, cornhole and shuffleboard.

Meanwhile, the Parkland Boys & Girls Club’s game room just underwent a renovation.

Thanks to a $20,000 Triple Play grant from The Anthem Foundation, the club now has basketball shooting games and new board games, such as Battleship, Guess Who? and Jenga. The nonprofit said in a news release that the Triple Play games room is a hub for social recreation and promotes skills like teamwork, problem-solving, impulse control and stress management.

“It’s important to prepare children with the skills they need to overcome experiences or environmental factors that could adversely affect their health — today and in the future,” Jennifer Helgeson, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana, said in a release. “We work with kids not only around physical activity and nutrition but also emotional skills and stress management.” —Caitlin Bowling

State fair board hires new GM

Kevin Moore

The Kentucky State Fair Board that oversees operations of the Kentucky Exposition Center and the Kentucky Internation Convention Center has hired a new general manager to handle day-to-day operations at the exposition center.

Kevin Moore fills out the team of Stacey Church, general manager of KICC, and David Beck, president and CEO of Kentucky Venues, the fair board’s organizational brand. Both Church and Beck were hired in the past year as well.

Moore was most recently the chief financial officer of Kentucky Venues and has worked for the organization since 2013.

“Moore’s management experience, integrity and vision for the property are exactly what the Expo Center needs as we look toward the future,” Beck said in the release. “Under his leadership, we have tremendous opportunities to position the facility for new growth.”

The Kentucky Exposition Center generates about $227 million in economic impact, hosts 225 events annually and has more than 2 million visitors. —Caitlin Bowling

Louisville airports get $24.4 million in federal funding

The airport authority is updating its master plan to prepare for needed airfield upgrades. | Courtesy of Louisville International Airport

The Louisville Regional Airport Authority announced last week that it received $24.4 million in airport infrastructure grants from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Airport Improvement Program, part of a $1.8 billion in funding being doled out for airports across the United States.

The grants, $23.3 million of which will go to the Louisville International Airport and $1.2 million of which will go to Bowman Field, will fund improvements including installing airfield guidance signs, repairing the taxiway and upgrading lighting.

“Louisville is the third busiest cargo airport in the United States and operating a safe and efficient airport is vital to our customers and worldwide commerce,” Dan Mann, executive director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority, said in a news release. “These funds ensure our infrastructure is ready to meet the demands of today and for the foreseeable future.” —Caitlin Bowling

In Brief

Student journalists at duPont Manual High School have something to celebrate: Their student-run magazine, On the Record, won a Crown from Columbia University’s Columbia Scholastic Press Association. A Crown is one of the top student journalism awards.

Jefferson County Public Schools will enlist the Kentucky Department of Education to help audit and create support plans for its comprehensive support schools, according to next week’s school board meeting agenda. Under the accountability system, JCPS could use KDE or enlist an outside firm to help turnaround 21 of its lowest-performing schools.

Humana has been recognized as one of the best employers for people with disabilities by the National Organization on Disability.

Humana has been fined $700,000 by the Texas Department of Insurance “for putting consumers at risk of paying higher bills because of an inadequate number of anesthesiologists” in three counties.

The International Monetary Fund has lowered its global growth projection to 3.7 percent, from the previous 3.9 percent. The organization said that U.S. growth would slow because of trade uncertainties and the waning impact from tax cuts wanes, while tightening financial conditions and high debt levels will dampen growth in emerging and developing economies.

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