Welcome to The Closing Bell. This is your last stop for biz scoops and big news before the weekend — a roundup of stories that can’t wait till Monday.

ZirMed and Humana both named ‘best places to work’

Becker’s Hospital Review has named two Louisville companies to its 2016 edition of “150 Best Places to Work.” Humana was listed in the “other” category, and ZirMed was listed in the “health IT and revenue management” category.

CnnlxobeZirMed is a cloud-based financial and clinical performance management solutions company. According to Becker’s, “ZirMed keeps work upbeat with its casual dress code, massage days, flexible work environment and bevy of employee events like trivia nights, family movie nights and nutrition and fitness programs. ZirMed’s own employees drive all the engagement programs. On top of traditional benefits, ZirMed offers paid parental leave, ample PTO and a chance to earn an all expenses paid vacation for two through its Excellence Awards Program.”

Humana’s perks are a little more practical and less fun, according to Becker’s: “Humana’s comprehensive benefits package is designed to address employees’ financial security, health, career development and work-life balance. Notable perks beyond the basics include homeowner’s and auto quote services, personal health coaching, on-site health screenings, flu shots, tuition assistance, mentorship, career navigation services, adoption assistance, an employee charity matching program and more.” 

The Becker’s editorial team considered nominees as well as organizations that had recently garnered recognition for workplace excellence. The list had eight categories: 1) hospitals/health systems; 2) ambulatory surgery centers; 3) physician practices and medical groups; 4) health IT and revenue cycle management companies; 5) management and consulting groups; 6) health-care staffing and practice management groups; 7) services providers and supplier organizations; 8) other. —Melissa Chipman

Contents of Phoenix Hill Tavern will be auctioned this spring/summer

So many memories inside the PHT Saloon. | Courtesy of PHT
So many memories inside the PHT Saloon. | Courtesy of PHT

As plans continue to move forward on the Phoenix Hill apartment project, one question looms on the minds of many Louisvillians: What will happen to all that “stuff” inside the now-defunct nightclub?

Turns out Phoenix Hill Tavern’s fate will be similar to its brother’s, Jim Porter’s. Local auction company Wardlow Auctions, which handled the Jim Porter’s job, has been tapped to sort through the decades of debris and host an auction that might begin as early as May.

Wardlow Auctions owner Rick Wardlow tells Insider they plan on conducting the auction in four phases throughout May, June and July, and they have quite a big job in front of them sifting through more than 25,000 square feet. He says that while Jim Porter’s had its challenges, that club was only 18,000 square feet and acted as a training exercise for Phoenix Hill.

Wardlow’s crews have not yet been inside, and his company is currently finishing up other auctions before taking on this project. For anyone interested in the progress, you can sign up on the Wardlow website for email notifications about the auction. Also, Insider Louisville will keep you updated once the team gets access inside the building and begins its daunting duty. —Sara Havens

Gourmet Popsicle store opening in the Highlands today

Steel City Pops sells gourmet Popsicles similar to Mexican paletas. | Facebook
Steel City Pops sells gourmet Popsicles similar to Mexican paletas. | Facebook

Just in time for the spring warm up, Alabama-based Steel City Pops is opening its doors at noon today, March 25.

The gourmet Popsicle company, which offers flavors such as maple bacon with bourbon, butter pecan and pineapple jalapeño, is settling into 1021 Bardstown Road, a.k.a. the former Wild and Woolly Video.

Steel City Pops wants to open at least five stores in Louisville, IL previously reported. The company is currently looking for a second storefront in St. Matthews.

“We really love Kentucky. We feel like the Louisville area really reminds us a lot of Birmingham,” Steel City Pops owner Jim Watkins told IL. —Caitlin Bowling

El Toro relocates downtown

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 3.27.10 PM
124 N. First St. | Image via Google Maps

Seems like these days it wouldn’t be a business roundup without mention of El Toro, the Louisville targeted-advertising startup. This time, the news is about their fancy new digs.

Cushman and Wakefield / Commercial Kentucky announced this week that El Toro is relocating from Distillery Commons to a 10,700-square-foot space at 124 N. First St., behind Whiskey Row and the KFC Yum! Center.

The building was vacated by the now-shuttered Interactive Media Lab (read this story for more on what’s become of those folks), as well as bCatalyst (purchased by Hilliard Lyons) and Genscape (moved to Old Louisville).

This very cool and sprawling office seems like a good fit for El Toro, which CEO Stacy Griggs recently said would be adding up to 60 new hires over the next two years. Currently there are around 20 employees.

Maybe they can test out their recently launched New Movers product in the process. —Melissa Chipman

Ford unveils Lincoln Navigator Concept — with gullwing doors

Kumar Galhotra, president of Lincoln, revealed the all-new Navigator Concept at the New York Autoshow this week. | Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.
Kumar Galhotra, president of Lincoln, revealed the all-new Navigator Concept at the New York Auto Show this week. | Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Co. has revealed a new Lincoln Navigator Concept, which comes with expected high-tech gadgetry, such as pedestrian detection, and unexpected styling: gullwing doors.

The Navigator is one of the vehicles made locally at the Kentucky Truck Plant. Ford, Lincoln’s parent, said the concept, unveiled Wednesday at the New York Auto Show, offers a glimpse of what consumers can expect from the next-generation Navigator.

The company said in a press release that it is “reimagining” the Navigator “for modern clients interested in better performance, more space and further refinement.”

The concept’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine delivers 400 horsepower. That’s Porsche 911 territory — though the Lincoln weighs about twice as much. The Navigator’s Pre-Collision Assist helps drivers avoid rear-end collisions, and Pedestrian Detection can help motorists — at lower speeds — avoid striking pedestrians. And if drivers stray from their lane, the steering wheel will vibrate, and software will provide “mild steering input” to “encourage” drivers back into the lane.

And then there are the gullwing doors — with concertina steps.

Lincoln designers took inspiration from sailboats and yachts, the company said.

“The all-new Navigator Concept reinforces our commitment to give every Lincoln client what we call quiet luxury – vehicles and experiences that are elegant, effortlessly powerful and serene,” Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra said. “This kind of quiet luxury sets Lincoln apart. Now, we’re showing fans of large SUVs how we can exceed their expectations, without being the loudest statement on the road.”—Boris Ladwig

Michter’s releases its anticipated 10-year single barrel bourbon

MichterAlthough this modern Shively distillery often gets overshadowed by the Woodfords and Wild Turkeys of the Bourbon Trail, its bourbon stands up to any product out there. In fact, demand has been so high for Michter’s bourbons and whiskies around the world, its products now have to be allocated to certain markets.

Next month, they’re releasing a tasty gem back into the market — the Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon — which hasn’t been bottled since last December.

“I love our 10 Year Bourbon and wish we could sell it year round, but we just don’t have enough,” said master distiller Willie Pratt in a press release.

It’ll be released in April for a suggested retail price of $120. —Sara Havens

Kentucky for Kentucky at Flea Off Market

wondersOur favorite cheerleaders for our fair commonwealth, Kentucky for Kentucky, will head to the Flea off Market this weekend with a bunch of their cool duds and stuff.

The Flea Off has been postponed twice already this month — once because of the St. Patrick’s parade and once because of rainy weather. Luckily this weekend’s weather looks cooperative.

While the outdoor market is open Saturday and Sunday, Kentucky for Kentucky will only be there on Saturday.

Here’s hoping that they will still have stock of the newly released art prints of Mammoth Cave and Natural Bridge crafted by Louisville’s Nick Baut of Hound Dog Press.

The Flea Off opens at 11 a.m. both days and closes at 6 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday; it takes place in the parking lot of Fresh Start Growers Supply, 1007 E. Jefferson St. There are always food trucks, coffee, cocktails and beer, in addition to a wide variety of vendors. The five-day forcast puts Saturday in the high 60s and sunny and Sunday partly cloudy in the low 70s. I’ll take it. — Melissa Chipman

Industrial park gets high-speed designation

fiberoptics1-1A Louisville area industrial park has been designated as AT&T Fiber Ready, signaling the presence of fiber-based high-speed Internet.

Jeffersontown and AT&T officials said the designation for Bluegrass Commerce Park will aid economic development efforts, as the importance of high-speed connectivity is increasing for all kinds of businesses.

“With the AT&T Fiber Ready designation we can highlight the presence of this vital fiber-optic infrastructure as we continue to recruit new employers to the area,” Jeffersontown Mayor Bill Dieruf said in a press release.

John Crosby, president of the Jeffersontown Chamber of Commerce, said the designation and the infrastructure’s capabilities “will help us to emphasize the resources that Jeffersontown offers when companies are deciding where they want to base their operations.”

The park opened in 1967 with 19 businesses and now hosts about 850 businesses with more than 30,000 employees.—Boris Ladwig

Open date set for Wild Eggs in Southern Indiana

WildEggsphotoSouthern Indiana residents will no longer have to cross the bridge to taste the delights of Wild Eggs.

Come April 11, the hungry Hoosier can visit Wild Eggs in their own backyard. The locally owned breakfast and brunch restaurant is only a couple weeks away from opening at 1450 Veterans Parkway, Suite 160, in Jeffersonville.

Each Wild Eggs employs 40 to 50 people and typically costs between $800,000 to $1.2 million to open, depending on the location.

The move into Jeffersonville is part of a larger growth plan. Wild Eggs is trying to rapidly franchisee, and the owners eventually hope to make it a national brand.

Wild Eggs also recently opened a store in Carmel, Ind., and is opening a location in downtown Indianapolis this month. A Nashville store is “coming soon” as well, according to the Wild Eggs website. —Caitlin Bowling

Louisville entrepreneur heading out on ‘Make America Quirky Again’ tour

Caldwell's Quirky Cookery
Caldwell’s Quirky Cookery sells sweet and spicy jams and jellies. | Photo by Zac Caldwell

Zac Caldwell is packing up his quirky jams and jellies and hitting the road for spring break, sort of.

Caldwell, owner of Caldwell’s Quirky Cookery, is taking a nine-day road trip out to California, and along the way he will meet with independently owned grocery stores and hot sauce shops — apparently, that’s a thing — to see if he can get the owners to bite and stock his sweet and spicy jams and jellies.

To fund what Caldwell is calling the “Jelly 2016 – Make America Quirky Again” tour, he has started a small Kickstarter campaign. The money will pay for gas and other incidentals.

He’s already surpassed his simple goal of $500, but the campaign lasts until 3 p.m. today, so supporters can still give to help cover road trip-related costs.

See Insider Louisville’s profile of Caldwell’s business here. —Caitlin Bowling

Early bird tickets now on sale for IdeaFestival

idea fest logoPasses for the four-day IdeaFestival are now on sale for the early bird price of $350. The event, which explores innovation, creativity and curiosity, is Sept. 27-30 at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Influencers from many disciplines will give talks on how we can explore our futures and understand our pasts.

As a bonus, you’ll also receive an IF-branded Google Cardboard in the mail as part of a virtual reality experience being designed for IF 2016. You’ll also receive a password that gives you access to VR content on the IF website.

The lineup currently includes the following speakers:

  • Troy Carter — Founder, president and CEO of Atom Factory, a diverse entertainment company with roots in talent and investments. As a digital social entrepreneur, he helped define the career of multi-platinum Grammy-winning artist Lady Gaga.
  • Susan Schneider — Philosopher and cognitive scientist, she will discuss her fascinating work with NASA that explores the question: “If we encounter a highly advanced alien consciousness, what might it ‘look’ like?”
  • Alan Lightman — American physicist, writer and social entrepreneur. He is a professor of the practice of the humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of the international bestseller, “The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew.”
  • Kim Phuc — Girl in the iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning Vietnam War photo depicting children in flight from a napalm bombing. She is the subject of the book “The Girl in the Picture” and a documentary entitled: “Kim’s Story: The Road from Vietnam.”

IF’s kickoff event, Thrivals 9.0, is a separately ticketed event for $49. It focuses on innovative education for high school and college students.

Reserve your tickets here. —Melissa Chipman

Big O Tires investing $1.7 million in new location

A rendering of the Allison Lane store | Courtesy of Bandy Carroll Hellige
A rendering of the Allison Lane store | Courtesy of Bandy Carroll Hellige

Florida-based tire company Big O Tires is building a new store at 2550 Allison Lane in Jeffersonville.

The company is spending $1.7 million to construct the store, according to a news release. It will move in out of its current location at 1502 E. 10th St. and into the new store in May.

The Allison Lane shop will feature eight bays to service cars, additional parking and new technology.

Franchisees Bill Walker, Tom Walker and Josh McCullough own the Jeffersonville Big O store. The Walkers also run the New Albany location on State Street.

“We’ve had a great run at our location on E. 10th Street, but we can’t wait to show off our new store,” Bill Walker said in the release. “The space will be clean, comfortable and bright, and offer the same great service our customers have come to expect.”

In addition to tire replacement and repair, Big O replaces oil, lube, filters and batteries, as well as aligns brakes and suspension. —Caitlin Bowling

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