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.
Brown-Forman’s first Irish distillery will be finished this summer
Brown-Forman will soon be getting into the Irish whiskey game, as completion nears on its first Irish distillery called Slane Distillery. Located 30 minutes northwest of Dublin, the distillery is set on the grounds of the legendary Slane Castle. It is the first distillery the Louisville-based company has built outside the United States.
Construction began in the fall of 2015 on the $50 million project, and crews just installed three hand-beaten copper pot stills and six column stills. They hope to begin production by July.
“We are proud and excited to introduce Slane Irish Whiskey and begin production at Slane Distillery,” said John Hayes, chief marketing officer of Brown-Forman Brands, in a press release. “As Brown-Forman expands its whiskey portfolio, we are confident Slane will offer a superb Irish whiskey experience and taste.”
U.S. consumers could see Slane on shelves as early as June, as initial bottles have been filled using whiskey from other Irish distilleries and then finished to Slane’s specifications using a triple-casked process. And once the distilling equipment is up and running, they’ll be filling their own barrels with the frisky whiskey. —Sara Havens
Yuengling beer starts flowing in Indiana on Monday
Devoted fans of Yuengling & Son beer will no longer have to make long treks to Ohio and beyond to keep their refrigerators stocked. The popular East Coast beer — which is actually the oldest brewery in America and the largest U.S.-owned brewery — is coming to Indiana starting Monday, March 6.
Indiana marks the 20th state where you can find the beer, and we know for sure it’ll be served at Wick’s Pizza in New Albany, along with other bars, restaurants and liquor stores on the Sunny Side. Insider heard from Wick’s staff member Emily Kunkel that they’ll have all three expressions on tap: Yuengling Traditional Lager, Light Lager and Black & Tan.
“Some things are just worth the wait,” said John Xenos, senior vice president of local distributor Monarch Beverage, in a press release.
Man suing Papa John’s over annoying text messages
A California man filed a lawsuit against Papa John’s International in late February, claiming that he suffered “a significant amount of anxiety, frustration and annoyance” after receiving text messages from the Louisville-based pizza chain, the complaint states.
In the complaint, the plaintiff Jonathan Anozie stated that he never signed up to receive text messages and never bought a pizza from Papa John’s. He attempted to stop the text message “on multiple occasion,” but the texts promoting pizza deals continued to come through, the court document states.
Papa John’s declined to comment on the lawsuit. “We are currently investigating this claim,” a company spokesman said in an email.
He did not respond to questions about how many text messages Papa John’s typically sends to customers each month.
The lawsuit asserts that Papa John’s violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prevents such text messages without prior written consent. The lawsuit doesn’t say how many text messages Anozie received but asked the court to award him $500 for each text.
In other Papa John’s news, the company recently started offering a service called PapaPriority, which it says will allow customers to jump to the front of the delivery line at participating restaurants — for a fee. The fee is in addition to a delivery fee.
Each restaurant can only handle five priority orders each night, Papa John’s website states, and it doesn’t say how much priority delivery costs, only noting that the fee “may vary based on date, time, or Papa John’s sole discretion.”
Notably, PapaPriority doesn’t even guarantee faster delivery. On its website, Papa John’s noted that even if someone pays the fee, it “does not guarantee that your pizza will be delivered within a set time period or that delivery will be faster than normal.” —Caitlin Bowling
Construction underway on new downtown apartments
Work started a month ago on the construction of a new 232-unit apartment building on South Fourth Street.
Cincinnati-based Capital Investment Group is investing $47 million in the apartment complex, which will include 9,894-square-feet of first-floor retail space, a private pool for residents and other amenities.
The company added retail space to the development along South Fourth Street after the Louisville Downtown Partnership and others criticized the lack of storefronts.
Local restaurant gets national love for its ‘ugly food’ use
NuLu eatery Rye was one of several restaurant operators to highlight their use of “ugly food.”
NBC News spoke to Rye’s head chef, Zachary Chancey, about his experience cooking with so-called ugly food, a movement built on using all or most parts of different foods. It was created because of statistics that show most food goes to waste; the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 30 percent to 40 percent of food is tossed.
For example, Rye has pickled cauliflower stems and served them on salads and charcuterie boards. Pickling, smoking and curing what is considered leftover portions of meat and vegetables ensures less waste.
“Good cooks have the ability to take ‘waste food’ and make something special out of it,” Chancey told NBC News. “When you go to a high-end restaurant, sure you pay for the food, labor and service — but you’re also paying for skill level. You’re paying for the ability to take ‘ugly food’ and make it into something beautiful.” —Caitlin Bowling
Sale of historic First Trust Centre complete
In early December, Insider Louisville reported that an unnamed Miami company had a contract to purchase the 135-year-old First Trust Centre.
Fast-forward to nearly three months later, and the property has officially sold. Miami-based Market Street Real Estate Partners bought the 135,497-square-foot building for $5.82 million, according to Tyler Smith, executive vice president of PRG Commercial Property Advisors, who represented the buyer.
“These guys are guys that love historic buildings with a lot of character on downtown corners,” Smith said.
Work will begin in about 60 days on renovations to the building. Market Street Real Estate Partners plans to modernize the vacant space with open concepts, high ceilings and “cool” finishes, Smith said.
PRG is marketing the vacant space for lease and can accommodate tenants that need as much as 25,000 square feet.
There are roughly 40,000 square feet of available Class A space, Smith said. Rates range from $13 to $18.50 per square foot.
“We want to fill the space and get the right users that are going to grow into it,” he said.
The former owners were Tim Mulloy, owner of Mulloy Properties; Doug Sumner, president and CEO of Centennial Resources; Thomas Luber, senior counsel at Wyatt Tarrant & Combs LLP; Joseph Corradino, head of The Corradino Group; and the investment firms Burbank Properties and Market Street Capital Properties. —Caitlin Bowling
Humana CEO meets with President Trump
Humana CEO Bruce Broussard and other health insurance executives discussed with President Donald J. Trump the state of America’s health care this week at the White House.
While Trump categorized the meeting, which also included Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, as a “listening session,” media were allowed to listen only to the president’s opening remarks.
Humana was mum on what, if anything, Broussard and Trump discussed.
In the opening remarks, Trump told the execs that it was an honor to do business with them. Broussard sat diagonally across a table from the president.
Trump, reading in part from a statement, also repeated that the health care market was “disastrous.”
“It’s going to absolutely implode,” he said. “That’s why we’re meeting today, and I think we’re going to come up with something where, not only will the market be great, but where the people are going to be taken care of, so we will work that out, I think, quite easily, actually.”
The comments seemed to contradict the president’s words from a few days earlier when he told the National Governors Association that he spent a lot of time with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to seek their input on improving the nation’s health care.
However, the three states do not rank among the nation’s healthiest, according to America’s Health Rankings, a database compiled by the United Health Foundation, which examined the states on behaviors, environmental measures, health outcomes, clinical care and policy, such as immunization rates and access to health insurance. In policy, Florida even ranked dead last.
“We have a lot of talent and a lot of expertise here, I will tell you,” Trump said. “And we have come up with a solution that’s really, really, I think, very good. Now I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”
Trump reiterated those comments this week in the meeting with Broussard, saying that he has a plan that is “fantastic,” “extraordinary,” “something special,” and “better than any other country anywhere in the world.”
“It will be released fairly soon,” Trump said.
The president said that in broad terms the plan will include expanded health savings accounts, more flexibility for states and allowing people to purchase health insurance across state lines.
“I have been told that the House Obamacare bill is under lock & key, in a secure location, & not available for me or the public to view,” Paul wrote. “This is unacceptable. This is the biggest issue before Congress and the American people right now.” —Boris Ladwig
KMAC Café grand opening today
According to the KMAC email newsletter:
Join KMAC in celebrating a new café space on the first floor! Enjoy espresso from Quills, coffee from Heine Brothers and sweet treats from Atlantic No. 5 and Flora Vegan Treats. Café and galleries will open early at 9 a.m. and stay open late for the Republic Bank First Friday Hop.
Kentucky Derby Festival milliners opening pop-up shop
The official hat designers of the Kentucky Derby Festival are setting up shop in Norton Commons this month.
Ahead of the festival, The Hat Girls, Rachel Bell and Kate Welsh, will be creating one-of-a-kind hats and selling ready-to-wear hats at 10708 Meeting St. The shop will be open March 11 through May 6.
“Our new showroom and studio gives us the opportunity to connect with our clients throughout the entire design experience and to make our brand available to a wider audience by offering a comprehensive range of styles at an expanded price range,” they said in a news release.
The Hat Girls pop-up shop will be open Wednesday through Sunday. Customers also can make appointments on Mondays and Tuesdays. —Caitlin Bowling