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.
Wearable startup gets disappointed by Coca-Cola accelerator program
When IL met with Arsh Haque, chief executive of the startup Elektra, the very first thing he said was, “We got in!”
He was talking about Coca-Cola’s BridgeCommunity accelerator program. There were 200 applicants for the part-time six-month program that focuses on commercialization. He had gone to Atlanta last week as part of the 40 semifinalists to give a 30-second pitch. And just before Haque met IL at Atlantic No. 5, he had received an email saying that Elektra was accepted.
He talked for a long time about his plans — would he stay in Atlanta or commute back and forth? Would all four of the founding partners go to Atlanta next week for the first week of the program?
Needless to say, Haque was psyched.
But less than two hours after coffee, Haque sent this email:
“So, a strange update.
Coca-Cola emailed us about an hour after we met with you and said we were mistakenly accepted into the program.”
Turns out Elektra was ranked number 22 and Coke was only accepting 20. Somehow the startup got on the wrong list. No Atlanta. No accelerator. Haque was staying put.
So what is Elektra? It’s a very early-stage startup that is billed as “the first electro-immersion company.” Basically, Haque and his partners have created wearable technology that reacts to sound in music, movies or video games. It stimulates your nerves to mimic the sound. The technician controlling the device (it won’t be an app-driven device for a while — development will probably take a couple of years) can even stimulate your muscles to move involuntarily.
Chillingly, when Haque was chatting up the device he said that it could even be used in the military, where it could be used to inflict pain like a gunshot wound during a training exercise so that the soldiers could learn to go through maneuvers when hurt. The device could be programmed to make a soldier feel as if his leg was blown off, all the while never inflicting any injury. As soon as the device is switched off, it’s business as usual.
Speaking of chilling, Haque said the idea for Elektra came to him when he was a master’s student in France. He’s a frequent concert-goer and said he had plans to see the Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan nightclub the night of the attack that killed 89 people, but he couldn’t find anyone who shared his interest in heavy metal.
Needless to say, he got pretty spooked about attending concerts for a while, so he dreamed up Elektra — a way to simulate the sensation of being in the room with live music.
In just four months, the partners have come up with a beta model that they have tested with small groups. Haque said that it usually startles people at first but eventually many of them sink into a “deep meditative haze.”
Lodge building near Zanzabar is listed for sale
Swiss Hall, located just outside the Schnitzelburg neighborhood, is on the market.
The hall serves as the headquarters for the Fraternal Order of Police Deputy Sheriff’s Lodge 25, which has owned the property since 1993. It’s called Swiss Hall because it was previously owned by the Swiss-American Home Association.
“They are open to whoever’s interested,” said Janet Board, a real estate agent with RE/MAX who’s representing the F.O.P.
The organization plans to look for a small building to gather and hold meetings.
“Times change and it’s a little more than they need,” she said, adding, “They’ve taken beautiful care of it.”
The three-story, 12,260-square-foot building doubles as an event center. The F.O.P. rents out a small room with a full bar and pool table that can hold 120 and a large room with a bar and stage that can hold up to 250. The building includes 120 paved parking spaces, two garages with bathrooms in each, and an outdoor concession stand.
Given the location close to the rising Schnitzelburg neighborhood and the Interstate 65 North on-ramp at South Preston Street, the building could become any number of things. It could get scooped up and turned into housing, or someone may simply look to modernize the event space.
BBC St. Matthews replacement set to open before Derby
Sullivan’s Tap House, which is taking over the former BBC St. Matthews on Shelbyville Road, has set its sights on April 27.
The new bar and restaurant will open to the public starting at 10 p.m. that day following an invite-only party.
Sullivan’s Tap House will be a gastro pub, serving more than 20 craft beer, 64-ounce shareable Moscow Mules, a $5 burger, cheese steak egg rolls, hot brown sliders and late night pizza by the slice.
Steven Dunn, who formerly cooked at Equus and Jack’s Lounge in St. Matthews and The Hub on Frankfort Avenue, is Sullivan’s head chef.
The restaurant’s partners are Breno Giacomini, a professional football player who played at the University of Louisville, Matt Taylor and John Sullivan. The latter previously operated Sully’s Restaurant & Saloon at Fourth Street Live, which closed. The bar was involved in a lawsuit alleging discrimination.
“Being able to open an updated version of a place (Sully’s) that was our home base for years is a dream come true,” Taylor said in a news release. “Once our concept was finalized we began actively looking for a location in the city that would be ideal for what we are looking to accomplish. When the BBC deal was presented to us it was a no-brainer.”
The partners already have hired 50 employees but are always looking to hire, according to Taylor. He added that they’ve reached out to the “warthogs,” a BBC St. Matthews mug club, about continuing the group at Sullivan’s Tap House.
Insider Louisville broke the news in January that BBC St. Matthews planned to close and Sullivan was likely bringing a new concept to the space. —Caitlin Bowling
YesterNook reopens in Smoketown/Shelby Park on Saturday
For weeks, YesterNook’s Facebook page has been teasing customers with sneak peeks of its new space at 1153 Logan St., which formerly housed the barbecue joint Smoketown USA. Now, it has set a reopening date, and it’s Saturday, April 22, from 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
“We are still getting all the kinks worked out, but we are ready to see our friends again,” says the event’s Facebook invite. “We are still adding stuff daily and will continue to do so! So stop by and see us!”
The popular vintage furniture and collectibles store closed in late February at its Goss Avenue location in Germantown. As Insider reported this year, that building and land was purchased by the partners of Bahe Cook Cantley & Nefzger PLC, who plan to convert the space into the law firm’s new offices.
But even more noteworthy, El Camino also will reopen on the lot in a new 4,000-square-foot space built next door.
Basil Hayden’s Rye Whiskey makes its way to store shelves
For the first time in its celebrated history, Basil Hayden is coming out with a limited-edition rye whiskey. A product of the Jim Beam Distillery, Basil Hayden is already a favorite among those who enjoy high-rye bourbons. So the fact that they’re tweaking the recipe to create a Kentucky straight rye whiskey has fans excited and thirsty.
The whiskey, bottled at a somewhat low 80 proof, uses re-barreled rye in its recipe, which begins as a four-year-old traditional rye whiskey and then is aged an additional seven years in new charred quarter-cask oak barrels. The whiskey from this process is then blended with more straight rye whiskey, and — boom — you have Basil Hayden’s Rye Whiskey.
“The spicy character of rye has always been a signature part of what makes Basil Hayden’s special, so creating a rye whiskey was a natural fit,” said Rob Mason, vice president of bourbon at Beam Suntory, in a press release. “This limited-edition release gives our fans a chance to experience everything they love about Basil Hayden’s bourbon — its spicy character, smoothness and approachable nature — in an interesting rye whiskey expression.”
The lower proof was chosen to make the product even more smooth and sippable, so it should be served neat or with a rock or two. If you can find it, the rye whiskey should be on shelves now. —Sara Havens
8UP names new chef, general manager
Downtown rooftop bar and restaurant 8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen has hired a new executive chef following the departure of Jacob Coronado, who will head the kitchen at Red Herring on Frankfort Avenue.
Netherlands native Casper Van Drongelen has taken the helm at 8UP. Van Drongelen has cooked in Washington state, Utah, Oregon and Chicago, where he worked at Michelin Star restaurant Sixteen. He attended the Cooking & Hospitality Institute of Chicago.
8UP also has hired a new general manager, Amy Lewis. Lewis previously worked at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse in Louisville and has opened more than 10 restaurants and clubs as part of Jeff Ruby’s company.
She most recently worked as general manager of Mercury Ballroom and the Louisville Palace.
Soccer club, brewer partner on LouCity-branded beer
Louisville’s professional soccer club and Falls City Brewing debuted the first of a co-branded line of beers this week, with the LouCity IPA.
Fans of Louisville City FC can try the brew at BoomBozz Craft Pizza & Taphouse, which will host a watch party for the club’s away game against rival FC Cincinnati at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The third-year United Soccer League club said in a press release that Falls City would release more LouCity-branded beers throughout the season, with proceeds benefitting charities.
“We look forward to the success of the beer and the growth of the watch parties this season, along with the new charity tie-in,” said Campbell Brewer, the club’s director of corporate partnerships.
Brian U’Sellis, marketing manager at Falls City, said, “As the team gains momentum and the fan base continues to grow, we hope this co-branded, local beer will bring fans together to support the team whether they’re at home or on the road.”
The soccer club and the brewing company last month had announced a shirt sponsorship deal.
After four matches in the new season, LouCity is the only club in the Eastern Conference without a loss. The team is in second place — though, it has played one game less than the team in first. —Boris Ladwig
Humana to release Q1 results May 3, realigns business segments
The Louisville-based insurer also said that it was realigning some of its business groups as it exited the individual commercial business, which includes customers the company has gained through the Affordable Care Act. Humana and some other insurers have said that those customers’ health care costs have exceeded their health insurance premiums by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Humana said it would present results from the individual commercial business as a separate segment. It previously was included in its retail segment. The insurer said it also renamed its group segment the group and specialty segment.
Local business moving into shopping center
After just less than a year in business, a locally owned shop, A Girl and Her Dog Boutique, is moving, owner Shelby Meredith announced.
The store will move to Westport Village from Jeffersontown. A Girl and Her Dog Boutique will open in the new location after Derby.
The dog-friendly shop sells clothes for women, as well as clothes, toys, leashes, dog houses and other accessories for dogs. It offers a variety of sizes for both women and their pooches.
“More and more people are coming to Westport Village to shop and we wanted to be a part of that,” Meredith said in the announcement. “With the addition of several new stores in the Village, we are excited about the opportunity for collaboration with other stores to continue to drive traffic that benefits everyone.” —Caitlin Bowling