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.
New downtown tiki bar The Limbo officially opens Friday night
In December, Insider caught up with businesswoman Olivia Griffin as she was making the final touches to her new tiki bar, The Limbo, which is located at Fourth and Chestnut streets. She was hoping to open in time for New Year’s Eve, but licenses, paperwork and a few last-minute projects pushed the opening date back.
Now, The Limbo is ready to host rum — and bourbon — fanatics starting tonight, Feb. 2, at 4 p.m. Griffin is calling it the world’s first bourbon tiki bar and Louisville’s first tiki bar in 20 years, so the pressure is on.
We stopped by Wednesday night during a soft opening and found a quaint little space that felt like it’s been serving up Mai Tais for years. Hawaiian luau music played in the background, and after we grabbed some seats at the bar, we were served a bowl of Hawaiian-style potato chips that were crisp and delicious and didn’t seem as unhealthy as typical saturated fat-soaked chips.
The simple menu includes six specialty cocktails that can be made with either rum or bourbon and range in price from $10-$12. There’s also a “Beachy Cocktail” list, a Scorpion Bowl that serves four, and a condensed wine and beer list.
We ordered the Jungle Bird with rum and a Bahama Mama with bourbon, and both drinks were expertly crafted and came in large, decorative glasses that you can also purchase. One sip of our pineapple-infused Jungle Bird, and we were transported to a remote beach bar in the Caribbean. We could even feel the ocean breeze and 85-degree temperatures the more we sipped.
The Bahama Mama recipe worked quite nicely with Buffalo Trace bourbon, ingredients you wouldn’t necessarily put together — bourbon, pineapple and coffee liqueur — but it was pleasantly surprising.
Griffin has events planned for each night — from live music to burlesque — so keep an eye on the bar’s Facebook page for all the details. The Limbo is located at 411 W. Chestnut St. —Sara Havens
Could Amazon still bring new investment to Louisville?
Although Louisville — and 217 other cities that applied — did not make Amazon’s top 20 list of finalist for its multibillion-dollar secondary headquarters, the city could still see some benefits from going through the application process, according to a recent report in The New York Times.
An individual who had been briefed on cities’ submission told tech reporter Nick Wingfield that the company will use the information when making decisions related to future satellite operations and warehouses. The source specifically mentioned Louisville, along with Montreal and Kansas City, Mo., as examples of cities that surprised Amazon in some way.
“The company did not realize until it saw the application from Louisville, Ky., the person said, that there is a large pool of technical talent within 200 miles of the city and a local public-private partnership that helps train students to become entry-level software developers,” Wingfield wrote.
However, according to a recent study from the left-leaning research group Economic Policy Institute, getting a new fulfillment center or warehouse has little to no impact on jobs.
The study concluded that when Amazon opens a new center, the number of warehousing and storage jobs goes up roughly 30 percent, but it doesn’t create any net new jobs overall.
Amid all the talk of the impact a company like Amazon has on a city, the institute advised cities not to give up the farm to attract the tech giant and rather invest in public infrastructure as a way to spur economic development.
“As cities and counties compete to host new Amazon facilities and its new headquarters, policymakers should be cautious about giving away the store,” the institute’s economic analyst Janelle Jones said in a news release. “Instead of pre-committing to giving away public funds to attract employers, communities should demand a concrete demonstration that an employer’s arrival will make their region a more prosperous place for working people.” —Caitlin Bowling
Frankfort sets lobbying spending record in 2017
Companies and organizations spent a record $20.8 million lobbying members of the Kentucky General Assembly in 2017, narrowly eclipsing the previous record set last year despite it being a short session.
For the second consecutive year, the top two lobbying spenders in Frankfort were the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce ($338,783) and tobacco company Altria ($312,196). Humana ranked 11th with $116,968 in spending, with Greater Louisville Inc. coming in 18th by spending $95,344. —Joe Sonka
Evan Williams Bourbon Experience celebrates 1,000th barrel
It’s not every day you see Mayor Greg Fischer wielding a hammer, but Thursday morning, he gripped one tightly, raised it above his head and brought it down with the force of 10 men, connecting the head with a bung that just so happened to be resting on the 1,000th bourbon barrel ever filled at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown.
Fischer joined Heaven Hill President Max Shapira, Heaven Hill Master Distiller Denny Potter, Artisanal Distiller Jodie Filiatreau and Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith, who each took their turn hammering the bung.
The artisanal distillery, which is operated by Heaven Hill, produces one barrel a day.
Earlier this week, the milestone barrel was displayed at various downtown establishments — from the Visitor’s Center and the Frazier History Museum to the Mayor’s Office (we wondered why he asked to borrow our whiskey thief) — where it was signed by officials, staff and any Louisville resident who felt like adding their name to history.
The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience opened in September of 2013, making it the first distillery to have a presence in downtown Louisville. Now, not even five years later, there are six, with three more on the way.
We happened to notice that the 1,000th barrel had the label “Rye Whiskey” on the head, which piqued our interest since Evan Williams doesn’t have a rye whiskey brand. PR rep Lauren Cherry informed us that they actually produce eight mash bills at the distillery — from a wheated bourbon to high rye — which allows for innovation.
Volare GM buys a stake in the restaurant
Jonathan Tarullo, the general manager of Volare Italian Ristorante, is now a managing partner and co-owner.
The Louisville native has been general manager at the upscale restaurant for 18 months. He now shared an equal stake in Volare with founder and chef Joshua Moore.
“Tarullo has been a tremendous asset to the restaurant since joining in 2016,” Paul Perconti, one of Volare’s owners, said in a news release. “This was a natural evolution to afford Jonathan an opportunity to become a partner.”
Volare recently underwent renovations and a menu revamp. —Caitlin Bowling
Eatery, florist get city loans
The owners of flower shop DN Surprise Florist and sandwich shop and ice cream parlor Flo’s House of Soul were among those who received city loans this month.
Both the florist and Flo’s House of Soul were given loans to help pay for insurance, rent and inventory. Flo’s House of Soul received $10,000, while DN Surprise Florist received $5,000.
Louisville Metro Government also awarded two METCO loans this month. Refuge Community Development received a $86,000 facade loan to rehabilitate the building, located at 1716 Prentice St., which will be used as a worship space for Refuge in Kentucky Church.
Louisvillian Nicholas Ellis received $190,000 Go Green loan, which will allow him to replace the HVAC unit, install additional insulation and improve the electrical system at 1202 S. 3rd St. Ellis plans to open a retail space on the first floor and apartments on the second and third floors. —Caitlin Bowling
Louisville Olmstead Park Conservancy has refreshed its website to make it mobile friendly, with the goal of making it easier to see volunteer dates and to join, officials said.
Hotel management company White Lodging is seeking to fill 75 jobs and is hosting two job fairs in Suite 700 of the MET Building, 312 S. Fourth St., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 5 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 6. The jobs are available at Homewood Suites by Hilton, TownePlace Suites by Marriott and Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott.