The next Venture Connectors Luncheon will move to the second Wednesday of the month, March 8, and will feature a panel of local restaurateurs who will discuss the restaurant landscape both locally and nationwide.

Recently, The Courier-Journal reported that in 2016, at least 32 independently owned restaurants shut their doors for good, while at least 27 local eateries closed in 2015. But Louisville is cited again and again as being a “foodie” city.

Panelists Fernando Martinez, Susan Hershberg and Chad Coulter all own thriving businesses, and they will discuss the challenges of keeping a restaurant competitive in a crowded market.

Fernando Martinez is a partner and executive chef for Olé Restaurant Group, which has opened restaurants including Guaca Mole, Artesano Vino Tapas y Mas, Mercato Italiano, El Taco Luchador and Red Barn Kitchen.

Susan Hershberg is a restaurant veteran who opened Wiltshire Pantry in 1989, which became a thriving catering business. Since then she has also opened Wiltshire on Market in NuLu, Wiltshire Bakery & Cafe in the Highlands and Wiltshire at the Speed, a cafe and catering operation located in the Speed Art Museum.

Chad Coulter is a pharmacist who, along with his wife, Lauren, opened Uptown Art, a “paint and sip” concept, which has two locations. The couple recently sold Uptown Art to focus on expanding LouVino, their wine-focused “small plates” restaurant, which has two locations in Louisville and one in Fishers, Ind.

Moderator Steve Coomes is a food writer and the co-owner of Eat Drink Talk, a Louisville restaurant and bar news website and podcast.

The  Venture Connectors’ March luncheon will be held at the Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth St. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. and the meeting runs from noon-1:15 p.m. Members attend free; associate members pay $30. Guests who register online by noon the day before the lunch pay $40.



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