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.
Here’s what we have uncovered about the speakeasy coming to Main Street
During Prohibition, speakeasies were hidden spots to buy alcohol. One had to be in-the-know to find and enter them.
A new Louisville speakeasy seems to be taking that tradition somewhat to heart as details are few and far between, and at least one piece of information listed in public documents is incorrect.
Around 9 a.m. last Friday, IL saw a building permit heralding the construction of a new 3,000-square-foot speakeasy at 112 W. Washington St. — cue several hours of phone calls and emails.
Insider tried the listed general contractor Sullivan & Cozart, but the company’s marketing head said he didn’t know anything about it and would see what he could find. Insider hasn’t heard from him since.
Those in the office of the listed property owner Main Street Realty were mystified, saying they had no knowledge of a speakeasy. That’s because come to find out the company doesn’t own the property that the speakeasy is going into; it owns the property across the street. The actual owner is Main Street Revitalization, the investment group behind 111 Whiskey Row.
The only other information Insider could find out was a public document, a zoning confirmation document from February to ensure that a company called Horse Feather could obtain a liquor license — something that would be key to a speakeasy. Attorney for Horse Feather, Stacy Kula of Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC, did not return a call for comment.
According to the Kentucky Secretary of State website, Horse Feather, which also goes under the assumed name of Hell or High Water, is owned by retired Brown-Forman vice chairman Jim Welch and his daughter Maud Welch. Insider tried to reach out to both but did not hear back.
Tech startup to invest $3.7M on new HQ and to create 250 jobs
Tech startup Interapt LLC plans to invest $3.7 million on a 22,000-square-foot headquarters on the city’s west side and create 250 full-time jobs in the next four years, according to filings with the state.
The company said in a press release that it planned to renovate a manufacturing and warehousing facility at 1226 Rowan St., in the Portland neighborhood, about half a mile west of the Slugger museum.
Interapt develops apps for smartphones, tablets and other connected devices to help businesses in sectors including media, fast food and health care. Customers include Baptist Healthcare, Yum Brands, Humana and Insider Louisville.
Last year, the company introduced TechHire, paid code training and paid internships for people in the Appalachia region.
CEO Ankur Gopal, who founded the company in 2009, told Insider via email that Interapt has been planning for its growth for some time.
“With the right partners in place, we felt this was the right time to move on our growth plan,” he said. “We have hired some people, relocated some people and trained some people to fill roles done by contractors.”
In the release, Gopal said that the investment market an “exciting milestone” for the company.
“Our team has worked very hard to establish ourselves in the global technology industry and help create technology skills across the commonwealth,” he said. “We are proud that our work is changing many people’s lives and creating new opportunities for people to embark on fruitful technology careers.”
The new employees are expected to earn hourly wages, including benefits, of about $28. Company officials could not be reached to say how many employees the company has. According to the filing with the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority, Interapt had one full-time Kentucky resident employee as of the application for tax incentives, of which the state preliminarily has approved about $2.1 million. —Boris Ladwig
Heine Brothers’ Coffee adds new location, to hit hiring milestone
Locally owned coffee company Heine Brothers’ Coffee has opened its 14th store, this one in the Hikes Point neighborhood.
The 3,000-square-foot store, at 3965 Taylorsville Road, is Heine Brothers’ largest to date. It includes a drive-thru.
The new outlet opened Wednesday and is hosting its official ribbon-cutting at 9 a.m. this morning. The first 400 customers will receive a grand opening pack with a limited-edition Hikes Point neighborhood collectors mug and discounts through May. There also will be a drawing for a $100 gift card.
In addition to being the largest Heine Brothers, the Hikes Point store marks a milestone for the company — it will employ 250 people in the region.
“That’s proof positive that Louisvillians are loyal to local,” owner Mike Mays said in a news release. “For several years now, we’ve had more customers ask for a Hikes Point location than any other neighborhood. We are thrilled to meet the demand and to open our doors as a place to connect, a place of ideas, a place of community.”
Louisville Bespoke meets Kickstarter goal, opens new studio
With the help of 64 backers, Louisville Bespoke met its Kickstarter goal of $10,000 after 31 days. Louisville Bespoke is a fashion hub to facilitate collaboration between Louisville’s fashion designers, makers, entrepreneurs and artists. Founder Yamilca Rodriguez told IL that the maker space and incubator now has a studio at 1000 Swan Street.
Rodriguez said that 90 percent of the funding for the studio came from friends.
Rodriguez plans to use the space for education and studio rentals. Part of the Kickstarter proceeds will go to acquiring several types of sewing machines and other supplies.
On Monday, May 1, the studio is hosting a class called “Refurbish Your Derby Hat.” Milliner Sarah Havens will help you recycle an old hat for this year’s Derby. Twenty bucks gets you the class and a bag full of new trimmings to spruce up your hat. You can also bring your own supplies and just get the hat maker’s advice. —Melissa Chipman
Downtown office building sells for $32 million
The 330,000-square-foot Meidinger Tower at 462 S. Fourth St. is under new ownership.
The 35-year-old office tower was formerly owned by a New York City-based REIT called DOF IV Meidinger Tower. It recently sold for $32 million to Florida investment and management company In-Rel Properties.
“We like Kentucky. We think it’s a good stable market, and when we look at acquisitions, we look to add properties in areas where we already have holdings,” Kirk Cypel, CEO of In-Rel Properties, told Insider.
The company bought Chase Tower in Lexington for $11.95 million in 2013, according to The Lexington Herald-Leader.
“There is a lot of good stuff happening in Louisville,” Cypel continued. “We feel downtown is on the verge of something great. We believe, when the convention center opens, it is going to bring a new energy to the city, and we want to participate in that energy and that strength.”
The renovation of the Kentucky International Convention Center, the construction of the Omni Hotel Louisville and plans for new residential development in the Central Business District all drew In-Rel Properties to the city, he said.
Unlike most properties In-Rel Properties buys, which need renovations or have low occupancy, Meidinger Tower is nearly full and underwent a big renovation back in 2006. Cypel said the company didn’t anticipate making a large investment in the property anytime soon but would make smaller investments every year to keep the building contemporary.
“I think the heavy-lifting has been done,” he said.
NAI Fortis Group will remain on as the property manager.
“We think they’ve done a good job,” Cypel said. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Churchill Downs shares see pre-Derby bounce
Shares of Churchill Downs traded at about $144 Thursday afternoon, up more than 11 percent from two weeks ago, compared to a gain of just 2.6 percent for the S.&P. 500.
Is it a pre-Derby bounce? If so, it’s the first one in years. Shares changed little during the same period in each of the last three years.
Churchill Downs will host its biggest event of the year, the Kentucky Derby, on May 6.
Shares jumped 1.5 percent Wednesday after the company said that first-quarter revenue fell 3 percent, but income spiked 161 percent, thanks primarily to greater profitability in its gaming division, which reported that marketing and advertising expenses declined by nearly 43 percent.
The Associated Press reported that the per-share profit, of 44 cents, missed Wall Street expectations. However, the company’s board this week also announced a new stock repurchase program of up to $250 million. Buybacks reduce the number of shares on the market, produce an upward pressure on share price — and improve earnings per share. —Boris Ladwig
Truck-sharing platform expands to Louisville (by popular demand)
The national truck-sharing platform, Truxx, which bills itself as “Your buddy with a truck,” has arrived in the Louisville market with a big toot of its horn.
Officials say there has been a 266 percent increase in registered drivers since the beginning of the year – 78 percent of those drivers have signed up in the last two months – and without giving away the exact number, estimate there are “a couple thousand” registered drivers and users in the metro area.
In an email exchange, the company’s chief marketing officer, Michael Decatur, said: “In a way, you can say Louisville chose us. We decided to focus on the Louisville area because there was an organic interest from drivers. We figured, drivers are signing up, let’s get them some jobs.”
It works similar to the ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft. “The difference is, our driver network is composed of pickup and van drivers and we move stuff, not people,” Decatur said. “Next time you’re driving or near a busy street, count the number of trucks that roll by. Now consider how useful a service that pairs all those empty trucks with folks who need them. Users get the service of a truck and drivers earn a little extra with their rigs. It’s a classic sharing service.”
Truxx says drivers earn 70 percent of the fare, 100 percent gratuity and are reimbursed for any related fees (tolls, dump fees, etc.).
There are three types of services. TruxxMe is for users who want to load and unload themselves ($25/half-hour). With TruxxHelp, drivers earn a little more by assisting with the loading — they don’t do the loading but they help the user ($35/half-hour). And TruxxRetail, a delivery service for users making large-item purchases with partner retailers ($31.50/half-hour, with a $39 minimum, and customers receive 10 percent off regular pricing). —Mickey Meece