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.
El Toro alumni launch marketing firm
Three former employees of Louisville-based digital advertising firm El Toro have launched a data-driven marketing firm called Untitled Firm thanks, in part, to $400,000 in startup capital.
Untitled generates digital marketing strategies by analyzing consumer information, Kramer Caswell, the firm’s digital marketing manager, told Insider via email.
“By using first-party and third-party data, Untitled arrives at an unbiased opinion of who your ideal customer is and works with you to identify the optimal way of reaching them,” he said.
The emphasis on being “unbiased” is reflected in the firm’s name: “When you first save a code base or file to your computer, the default file name is ‘untitled.’ A computer’s logic treats this as the default state. Untitled Firm mimics this concept, bringing marketing to its ideal approach — a more logical one,” the firm’s website states.
Caswell said he and El Toro alumni Connor Gaffney and Aaron Peabody started the firm in August. Caswell created apps and websites while in college and has created national search engine optimization campaigns. Gaffney, the director of operations, lists data analytics, data storytelling and team management among his areas of expertise. Peabody is the firm’s lead data scientist.
‘Greetings From Louisville’ mural near Churchill Downs to be unveiled Friday afternoon
Central Avenue near Churchill Downs is about to become abuzz with selfie-taking tourists and locals alike as the “Greetings From Louisville” mural is unveiled Friday afternoon. The project is part of the nationwide mural series known as the Greetings Tour, which was started by artists Victor Ving and Lisa Beggs.
The Louisville mural marks their 32nd one, the first in Kentucky.
The murals are inspired by vintage postcards, and Ving and Beggs have included iconic city symbols like the Louisville Slugger, the Kentucky Derby, bourbon barrels and the skyline. The artists began work on the mural on Friday, Oct. 5, and plan to finish just in time for the unveiling at 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12.
Ving and Beggs sought input by local artists, as well as property owners John and Mary Kay Dixon, on the design and symbols.
“We try to involve the community as much as possible with ideas because, in the end, the mural is for them,” Ving tells Insider.
So far, 16 states have similar murals, and the duo is headed to Miami next. But first, they’re looking forward to showing off what they’ve created for Louisville and the neighborhood surrounding Churchill Downs.
“The wall property owners (the Dixons) wanted to brighten up the neighborhood in a positive way. Even after most of the donors pulled out last minute, they believed in our project enough to fund it with limited support to make it happen anyway,” explains Ving. “It’s our hope that these murals become future landmarks and serve as a catalyst to open up more opportunities for public art for locals after we leave.”
Bottle Releases: A new Old Forester and two new Woodfords
Old Forester is coming out with a new double-barreled bourbon, which marks the fourth and final release of its Whiskey Row series. Called 1910 Old Fine Whisky, the product represents a key moment in the brand’s 150-year history when, in 1910, a fire caused the bottling line to be shut down.
Instead of disposing of the whiskey that was waiting to be bottled, they stored in new, charred oak containers to rest until the line was back up and running. Of course, when they checked on the whiskey that was being stored in these barrels, it proved to be a completely different product — so different, that they came out with a new product: Very Old Fine Whisky.
So, Old Forester decided to mimic this double-barrel process with the 1910 release, and the results, we assume, will be quite tasty.
“Mature Old Forester enters a second barrel at 100 proof, just as it did in 1910,” Old Forester Master Taster Jackie Zykan explains in a news release. “The second barrel is charred nearly to the point of incineration. This low entry proof allows more of the wood’s sugars to be dissolved into the whiskey, resulting in a smooth, sweet whiskey with a clean, spicy finish — yielding an exceptional character.”
The Whiskey Row series includes the 1870 Original Batch, 1897 Bottled in Bond and the 1920 Prohibition Style. The series was designed as a four-part extension, so it’ll end with this new release. 1910 Old Fine Whisky will hit shelves later this month for a suggested retail price of $54.99.
In other Brown-Forman news, Woodford Reserve is releasing two Master’s Collection expressions this month as well — Woodford Reserve American Select Oak and Woodford Reserve Oat Grain Kentucky Bourbon. In the series’ 13-year history, this is the only time there have been two releases at the same time.
The Select Oak features bourbon that has matured in Ozark oak barrels, which add different nutty and sweet notes to the whiskey, and the Oat Grain features a grain recipe using oats to lower the rye content. According to a news release, the resulting flavor from the oats is reminiscent of Irish whiskeys.
Both are available this month for a suggested retail price of $129.99 each.
And speaking of Woodford Reserve, the Kentucky premium bourbon was named Spirits Brand of the Year last week by Market Watch. The brand has grown by 75 percent over the past three years, churning out more than half a million cases in the U.S. on a 12-month basis. Kudos! —Sara Havens
KyCAD starts scholarship fund for inaugural class
Louisville’s freshly minted independent arts college is starting a scholarship campaign for students in its inaugural class.
The Kentucky College of Art + Design’s Spark Gap Fund hopes to cover 12 students’ education, according to a news release from the school. Interested donors can give in multiple ways, including single-time gifts, annual or monthly contributions and deferred gifts.
Scholarship endowments are also an option for gifts of at least $15,000.
“Regardless of a donor’s capacity to give, no matter if its $10 a month or $2,000 a month, this unique model allows anyone to help make a student’s dream of earning a BFA come true,” Rick Smith Sr., KyCAD senior vice president of advancement and chief development officer, said in the release.
KyCAD announced three weeks ago that they can offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, making them the first four-year independent arts college in Kentucky.
Every applicant will be considered for a scholarship, from a partial to a four-year, full-tuition scholarship, according to the school. Classes are set to begin in January. —Olivia Krauth
Dixie Highway diner closes months after opening
A recent tip from an Insider reader noted that Bluegrass Burgers on Frankfort Avenue isn’t the only restaurant to shut its doors as of late.
Highway 31 Diner and Dive, which opened at 8610 Dixie Highway near Pages Lane in February, is no more. Less than nine months after opening, the eatery announced its closure in a Facebook post on Sept. 11.
Feb. 5, 2018 was our opening day! Dixie Highway blessed us from the beginning and made us feel right at home! It has been our pleasure to meet each and every one of you! Not only did you become our “customers” but family, and our hearts have been full. We will cherish the memories and the friendships that have been established! It is with a heavy heart that we have decided that what is best for our family at this time is to close our doors … Thank you for the love and support you have shown and when you see us out please continue to bless us with your smiling faces. ❤️always your Highway 31 family!
The restaurant’s owners also noted that Highway 31 would fulfill the catering jobs it had already committed to. During its short life, the restaurant served up salads, sandwiches, burgers, soup and, for a while, breakfast. —Caitlin Bowling
Startup accelerator XLerate Health, the University of Louisville and two other academic institutions have received a $3.1 million federal grant to propel biomedical technology innovations.
21c Museum Hotels found some love from readers of Condé Nast Traveler, garnering recognition in three categories in the annual Readers’ Choice award, according to a news release. Among the properties of note were 21cs in Cincinnati and Oklahoma City (Midwest), Bentonville, Durham, Lexington and Louisville (South) and Nashville (South/Nashville).
For the fourth year in a row, Louisville has earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, making us one of 78 cities (out of 506) to achieve an A+. The index measures laws, services and leadership that promote the equality of LGBTQ people. Louisville is the only city in Kentucky to score a perfect 100; seven other cities, including Lexington and Covington, were included in the index.