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.

A sneak peek at the Omni Louisville restaurant Neighborhood Services

Neighborhood Services is a three-meal-a-day restaurant that will be a cornerstone of the more than $300 million Omni Louisville hotel and residences under construction at Liberty and Second streets downtown. Insider was the first to see how the work on Neighborhood Services is progressing and also got the chance to stop in at the Library Lounge and the Omni Louisville’s Pin + Proof.

Neighborhood Services was first created for the Omni hotel in Dallas. The location in Louisville will be the second. Chef Nick Badovinus, who created Neighborhood Services, is crafting the local menu as well.

The menu is still in the works, but it will likely look similar to the menu for the Dallas location but with alterations to give it Kentucky flair. Neighborhood Services will serve breakfast classics and dishes ranging from a burger to a bone-in rib eye, said Eamon O’Brien, director of sales and marketing for the Omni locally.

In addition to serving guests in Omni Louisville’s 614 rooms and its 225 residence, O’Brien said the idea behind Neighborhood Services is that it would feel like any other restaurant, not an establishment in a hotel.

“It’s going to feel like its own thing,” he said, citing Proof on Main at the 21c Museum Hotel on Main Street as a positive example. “We want to feel like part of the neighborhood.”

The design even goes as far as to have literal pieces of the neighborhood in it. The restaurant has a rustic look with wood, various types of metal and brick. The brick in the restaurant was taken from the Morrissey parking garage on South Third Street and will have a painted sign of a vintage car on the brick wall that the hotel entrance similar to the one that decorated the parking garage.

Neighborhood Services will seat 126 people and include an outdoor patio with an additional 54 seats.

With its opening less than three months away, the Omni Louisville is starting to look like the renderings shown in the video tour below. “We want to be as true to this as we can,” O’Brien said of the renderings.

Every day, a new piece is added into place, O’Brien said. In the last week, for example, the sliding ladders on the bookcases were installed in the Library Lounge, a casual gathering place on the opposite corner of South Second Street from Neighborhood Services.

The lounge will be a place to gather to drink French press coffee in the mornings or a cocktail in the afternoon and evening. It will feature a large copper-plated fireplace and bookshelves lined with book bindings. Behind the bar counter, the book bindings will create an image that will pay homage to Louisville, O’Brien said.

Across the hall from the Library Lounge will be the speakeasy and bowling alley Pin + Proof, the entrance of which will be adorned with artwork, he said. Speakeasy guests also will be able to enter through a door in the back alley of the hotel.

The speakeasy will seat about 70 people and serve food through a shared kitchen with Bob’s Steak & Chop House. The drink menu will feature plenty of prohibition-inspired cocktails, including a rotating bourbon punch drink.

When it opens, the Omni Louisville will also include a full-service spa, a 20,000-square-foot urban market, a fitness center and a pool with bar and food service, among other features.  —Caitlin Bowling

Red Hot Roasters now open in Butchertown

The coffee maker has expanded. | Courtesy of Red Hot Roasters

Hot coffee anyone? Local coffee roastery Red Hot Roasters is now serving up coffee, espresso drinks and pastries out of its new cafe at 1007 E. Main St.

Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

Co-owner Sondra Powell previously told Insider that the space would house its main roasting operations and would give customers a chance to sit down and hang out. Its location at the corner of Lexington Road and Payne Street is mostly a drive-thru business, though Red Hot Roasters did switch corners earlier this year to give itself more space with outdoor seating and bike racks.

Red Hot Roasters is the latest business to open in Andy Blieden’s Butcherblock development. Blieden has been rehabbing buildings along Story Avenue, Main Street and Washington Street, then leasing them to businesses including Hi-Five Doughnuts, Louabull, Stag + Doe and Pho Ba Luu. —Caitlin Bowling

Local development group plans to revitalize Hikes Point Kmart

The Hikes Point Kmart closed in 2016. | Courtesy of Jefferson County PVA

More than a year and a half after Kmart closed its Hikes Point store (and two others), city documents revealed plans to renovate the vacant building into a retail center.

DiAnne Hutcherson, a co-owner of the McMahan Group, filed a development plan with the city. The plan states that the local development group wants to renovate 72,000 square feet of the former Kmart and build four out lots — a 18,560-square-foot automobile service center and shop; 9,656-square-foot pharmacy, a 1,277-square-foot restaurant and a 2,382-square-foot restaurant.

The existing Thortons gasoline station will remain, the plans state.

The McMahan family has owned the property for more than 20 years. The move to redevelop it isn’t unusual as the McMahan Group has multiple developments nearby including McMahan Plaza at 3039 Breckinridge Lane and McMahan Center at 3943 Taylorsville Road. —Caitlin Bowling

Long John Silver’s opens Louisville test restaurant

The restaurant will feature Long John Silver’s new look. | Courtesy of Long John Silver’s

Louisville seafood chain Long John Silver’s is opening a flagship store at the corner of Westport Road and Goose Creek Road.

The location will feature the restaurant’s new building design and serve as a place where Long John Silver’s can test new menu items and garner feedback from customers, according to a news release.

“It reflects years of collaboration from a talented and dedicated team of franchisees and our corporate staff to bring to life our restaurant of the future,” CEO James O’Reilly said in the release. “2018 marks an important year in the revitalization of the Long John Silver’s brand, and I can think of no better way to begin than with this new restaurant.”

The flagship restaurant will open sometime next year. Louisville builder Ralle Homes is the general contractor on the project.

All new stores will feature the building design and features, but even existing stores are expected to undergo some renovations. The interior will be altered to integrate the “clean, modern design with wood tones and nautical cues” such as solid brass ship’s bells, the release states.

Stores also will get new grilling equipment as Long John Silver’s introduces new grilled seafood options. —Caitlin Bowling

New owners step up to take over Diaper Fairy service

Louisvillians Paul Levitch and Kim Swisher Tabler are taking over diaper duty.

Emily McKay announced the change in a Facebook Live video earlier this week. McKay decided to close The Diaper Fairy Cottage, a retail shop and headquarters for her clothe diaper delivery and cleaning service, after beating leukemia, Insider reported in November.

While the cottage will remain closed, Levitch and Tabler will handle the delivery, pickup and cleaning of cloth diaper customers in the Louisville area. McKay said she would work with Levitch and Tabler through the end of this month to help with a smooth transition.

“We are so super excited to be part of this community,” said Tabler, a doula and owner of Thrive Parent & Teacher Consultants. “I’m just super excited to have a new opportunity to be part of what Emily has created for you guys.”

Levitch noted in the video that he has worked with Tabler at Thrive before and is excited for the new venture.

“Emily’s been an absolute rock star with the kind of service she’s provided for you guys, and we feel a great obligation and responsibility to continue it,” Levitch said.

The phone number and email address for Diaper Fairy, as well as the Facebook, will remain the same as they were under McKay. —Caitlin Bowling

El Taco Luchador opening a Jeffersontown location

Pictured are the veggie taco, baja fish taco and carnitas taco. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Louisville restaurant powerhouses Christina, Fernando and Yaniel Martinez are opening their third El Taco Luchador in spring 2018 — and more could be coming next year.

The Martinezes’ Olé Restaurant Group announced Wednesday that it would open the taqueria in the Stonybrook Village Center, located at 9204 Taylorsville Road, in Jeffersontown.  The restaurant group’s Mussel & Burger Bar concept also operates in the shopping center.

“I think people enjoy El Taco Luchador so much because it’s different than a lot of other Mexican options,” Fernando Martinez said in the news release. “Our customers love the counter service, but what makes our food stand out is it’s fresh and cooked-to-order. With this next location, we’re really looking to highlight that with an open kitchen.”

The new El Taco Luchador will be 2,500 square feet and have an outdoor patio that seats at least 40. The restaurant is known for its $4 or less tacos and tortas, which cost roughly $10.

In addition to the Jeffersontown location, the news release noted that Olé Restaurant Group is actively searching for a downtown location to open an El Taco Luchador.

Olé Restaurant Group owns six restaurant concepts and runs eight restaurant locations (soon to be nine) in Louisville. —Caitlin Bowling

KFC launches limited-edition merchandise for the holidays

The online store contains a broad variety of merchandise. | Courtesy of KFC

Just in time for the holidays chicken chain KFC has introduced new limited-edition collection of clothing and other merchandise.

Items include a drumstick pin, a chicken leg pillow and a shirt with Colonel Harland Sanders wearing a Santa hat. Prices start as low as $4 for Morning Gravy mug to $5,000 for an internet escape pod. Most of the merchandise is $30 or less.

“Our finger lickin’ faithful deserve to celebrate the holidays by giving and receiving some fried chicken essentials,” George Felix, director of advertising for KFC U.S. said in a news release. “The second round of KFC Ltd. has it all, even the wrapping paper. You’ll spend less time shopping, leaving you more time to enjoy a $20 Fill Up with your family this holiday season.”

The last day to order items and get them by Christmas is today, Dec. 15, for most addresses in the continental United States. —Caitlin Bowling

Louisville poet joins faculty at Spalding’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program

Kiki Petrosino

Award-winning poet and UofL associate professor Kiki Petrosino has joined the poetry faculty at Spalding University’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program. She’ll begin teaching in the spring of 2018.

Author of poetry collections “Witch Wife,” “Hymn for the Black Terrific,” “Fort Red Border” and more, Petrosino has had her work published everywhere from Best American Poetry to The New York Times.

She currently serves as associate professor of English and director of creative writing at UofL and is on the boards of Louisville Literary Arts and the Kentucky Women Writers Conference.

Also of note, Petrosino is founder and co-editor of Transom, an online poetry journal, and her work has received three nominations for the Pushcart Prize and was listed as Notable in The Best American Essays 2016. —Sara Havens


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