Make it a December to Remember at a Special Event

Welcome to December and the onslaught of holiday parties. Our city’s restaurateurs are busy with special events designed to thrill your taste buds. Here are a few:

I’ll Take All Three: Be among the first 10 to buy tickets for a special dining experience at Butchertown Grocery and you could win either: West Sixth’s super limited Brandy Barrel Aged Christmas Ale, Copper & King’s 375ml offering of new 3 Marlenas Tequila Barrel Aged Apple Brandy; or $100 to spend at Bobby Benjamin’s popular restaurant. Dates are Dec. 14 and 21, and your $150 ticket includes a five-course Asian-inspired meal, plus brandy and beer selections from beverage director Nic Christiansen. A portion of the meal’s proceeds will be donated to Home of the Innocents.

The Appeal of Repeal: In 1933, America wised up and repealed Prohibition, and we’re still celebrating. Monday is the anniversary of the 21st Amendment, so the Bourbon Society is hosting a party at the Henry Clay from 6 to 9. If it’s your first Bourbon Society event, they’ll let you in free to enjoy food, drink, art and books.  Or, you can celebrate at the same time at Down One Bourbon Bar at a Repeal Day bash sponsored by Angel’s Envy.

No, It’s Not IndiVino: The two area locations of LouVino, operated by Chad and Lauren Coulter, have been a big hit in the Highlands and Middletown. Now, the Coulters are opening a location in Fishers, Ind. Dec. 13. The third location seats 120 inside and 30 on the patio, and, like those in Louisville, will “focus on shareable small plates complemented by approachable yet refined wines.” You can listen to an interview with Chad on EDT podcast #5 here.

Upscale Bake Sale Saturday at C&K: Ever wonder what might happen if 60 local chefs let loose their imaginations in the kitchen to prepare cookies, pies, scones, bread, cakes and candy? You can find out Saturday morning at 10 at the Kentucky chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier (LDEIKY) Bake Sale. Go early, the cookies sold out in an hour last year at Copper & Kings. Sullivan University Hospitality students package the goodies.

‘Tis The Season for Champagne: Brasserie Provence is hosting its 3rd annual five-Course Holiday Champagne Dinner Dec. 8, with wine expert David Dubou of Vintner Select. Highlights include Poached Duck Egg with Hollandaise Sauce, along with Duck Foie Gras Terrine, & Shaved Buttery Asparagus with Fish Roe, and an Asian-inspired Ahi Tuna Steak. A harpist adds to the atmosphere. For reservations, call 502-883-3153. All for $95.

On Tuesday – Bourbon and Cigars at the Levee: Down at John Varanese’s The Levee next Tuesday, you can enjoy a five-course meal with bourbon pairings from Maker’s Mark,

Bobby Benjamin at Lola's. Bill Brymer photo

Bobby Benjamin at Lola’s. Bill Brymer photo

Jim Beam, Knob Creek and Basil Hayden. For $65, you get all that and the chance to enjoy a cigar on the patio. The busy Varanese publicity department also informs us of a Uinta Brewing Co. Beer Dinner the following night at the Varanese location on Frankfort Ave.

Tune in to Rusty: We’ve talked a lot on the EatDrinkTalk podcast about how much we love what Bobby Benjamin has done down at the new Lola’s Lounge, above Butchertown Grocery. Listen in as Bobby explains his vision, and his passion, on the Rusty Satellite Show. It’s available Thursday morning.

 

 

 

 

‘Tis the Season – For Harvest-ing with Patrick Roney; and a Miracle with Doug Petry

‘Tis the season for the savory food and delicious drinks, as our city’s purveyors of such items are working hard to impress customers. And we’re happy to report some new players — starting with Scene, the new fast-casual operation at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, which opens its doors this week. Across the Ohio, Jeffersonville’s Pearl Street Taphouse makes its long-awaited debut Saturday. We’re also hearing that the Mile Wide Brewing Co., the much anticipated brewery off Baxter, is already making beer and is just a week or two away from opening to the public.

We’re also recommending a web site to foodies. Creation Gardens is re-introducing its home delivery service for fresh steaks, chops and select pantry items, the same items purchased by area restaurants. Just go to butcheryfresh.com, make some selections and wait for the delivery. For you high-end whiskey drinkers, our friends at The Pearl of Germantown have obtained a package license so they can sell private barrel picks right on Goss Avenue, where you’re unlikely to have to wait in line for these special bottles. Down in Woodford County, word is that Marianne Barnes and her crew at the Castle & Key distillery are producing bourbon — that one’s been a long time coming.

Steve’s guest Patrick Roney is the extraordinary chef at Harvest in NuLu, which is offering a special Three-Course Thursday special for just $30. Roney also talks about the launch of a private chef’s table at Harvest coming Dec. 15. Rick talks with Doug Petry, beverage director at Rye, also in NuLu, which is one of just 30 bars in the U.S. participating in the Miracle Pop-Up Bar celebration of the season, an idea that originated in New York. Stop in and make a list of goodies from a special drink menu (Muletide, anyone?) and drink it in some kitschy glassware.

In our Favorites segment, Rick chooses items from last week’s media reception at Lola’s at Butchertown Grocery. Portobello Fries with a tasty wasabi sambal aioli sauce, plus a drink called Happiness Does Not Wait. Steve chose the BBC American Pale Ale he enjoyed at BBC, and selected a delicious-sounding smoked brisket over cauliflower grits at the Gospel Bird in New Albany.

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Doug Petry at Rye

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Patrick Roney at Harvest

News Roundup: Thank you, Fidel Castro; new breweries; Pearl packages barrel picks

Louisville restaurant fans owe thanks to Fidel Castro! Seriously. A tip of the prol-cap to the now-dead longtime commandant of Cuba. Were he not a brutally oppressive dictator of the very people he promised to free from the prior dictator’s rule, Louisville would not have Havana Rumba, Mojito Tapas Restaurant, Artesano Vino Tapas y Mas, El Taco Luchador, Mussel & Burger Bar and Red Barn Kitchen. All those concepts were founded and operated by Cuban immigrants who fled the communist country—on rafts and overloaded boats in open seas—for the United States. We’re so glad you’re here, Marcos Lorenzo, Fernando Martinez, Yaniel Martinez, their families and many immigrant employees who saw the promise of a (mostly) free enterprise economy.

I visited Cuba 18 years ago and saw firsthand how Castro’s brand of communism wrecked a once thriving country that still has so much potential. With his passing, I’m hoping those sweet and friendly Cubans I met will move one step closer to the democracy Castro promised, but never delivered.

Chef’s table, 3-course Thursdays at Harvest: Thursday Dec. 1 marks the launch of Three Course Thursdays at Harvest. Chef Patrick Roney’s crew is assembling a three-course, prix fixe meal centered on late-fall veggies and proteins harvested locally. Cost is $30 per person, which is a big bargain.

Street view of Harvest in NuLu.

Street view of Harvest in NuLu.

Just as cool is the Dec. 15 launch of Harvest’s private chef’s table. Right there in its massive kitchen, 10-12 guests can gather around the long, barn wood table to enjoy a meal prepared and served by Roney’s culinary team. All menus will center on products from a single farmer, and all menus will be prix fixe. To make reservations for Thursdays or inquire about the private chef’s table, call 384-9090.

Melting Pot now permanently cold: Insider Louisville reported that the Melting Pot on Hurstbourne Lane is now closed. I had no idea it was still open. I can name only one person who went there. I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did.

Pre-sale of tix for Tailspin Ale Fest 2017 this week: At its inception just a few years ago, Tailspin took off and hasn’t stopped climbing in popularity and attendance. Want to ensure you get tickets for this always-sold-out event? Click here for info on this week’s pre-sale parties, when you can get good discounts on tickets for this annual ale fest. Only 400 tickets sold at these three Dec. 1-3 parties!

Pearl Street Taphouse opening Saturday: Yet another reason to love the coming weekend, and a great reason to check out the new Spaghetti Junction and Lincoln Bridge if you haven’t. Pearl Street Taphouse will open Saturday in Jeffersonville. Check its Facebook page and webpage for exact times and its address. Given the newly opened roadways, it’s about a 15-minute drive from the Highlands.

Mile Wide Beer eyes December opening: According to its Facebook page, the beer is flowing, but final permitting hasn’t been completed at this new brewery in the Phoenix Hill neighborhood. Would be a dandy early Christmas present if the locks came off the taps early next month.

Finally distilling at Castle & Key: In a weekly vlog from master distiller Marianne Barnes, bourbon is running again within the brick walls of Castle & Key, an historic distillery near Frankfort. Watch this short video to see an excited Barnes give the happy update.

Barrel picks to be sold at The Pearl: The Pearl of Germantown is petitioning for a package sales license allowing it to sell bottles of its private barrel picks from area distilleries. This is a big deal, and here’s why: In this day of waiting in line for limited release bourbons—that most never get, or pay too much for on the secondary market—this gives drinkers the chance to buy what are truly one-of-a-kind bourbons chosen by the folks at The Pearl and its sister company, The Silver Dollar. Area retailers such as Old Town Wine & Spirits, Westport Whiskey & Wine, The Party Mart, Prospect Party Center, Liquor Barn and Top Hat  Liquors also do their own private picks, and many of these bourbons are real treasures.

Limited release whiskies are great, but for the price of a private pick and the time you must wait in line to get a bottle (0.0 minutes), it’s a no brainer for me.

It’s a Christmas Miracle. . . Bar, in NuLu

Tonight, if your idea of celebrating the start of the holiday season doesn’t include dreaded Black Friday shopping or marveling at the light show up the street at Light Up Louisville, mosey down Market for a Miracle — one with a big-city twist and a celebration of cocktail culture.

At Rye, a close copy of the concept of New York City’s pop-up bar Miracle is being launched. Miracle on Market is complete with over-the-top decorating, Christmas movies, songs and a specially crafted cocktail list. Louisville is one of 30 cities, including London, Athens, Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver and Oklahoma City, copying the famed New York pop-up. It starts tonight and continues through Christmas Eve.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-11-18-55-amRye beverage director Doug Petry said Rye’s barroom will be transformed with a sled full of new decorations, including some lifted from his mother’s basement. He said his crew spent much of the Thanksgiving holiday getting ready. Several special events are planned, including a tree trimming party, ugly sweater contest, and a Toys for Tots drive.

“We’re having fun with it,” Petry said. “Usually we are tame, I think we had an Advent calendar, but this year it’s out of the box.”

Petry said he was contacted by organizers of New York’s Miracle pop-up bar, which started two years ago, and who were organizing similar spots around the globe.

“When Miracle reached out and asked if we wanted to participate in the 2016 expansion of the program, we were thrilled at the opportunity. Louisville already has such a vibrant food and beverage culture that is continuously growing, and we knew that Miracle would be a great addition to that tradition,” Petry said.

And who wouldn’t want to stop in and try a holiday themed cocktail — like the Muletide (Aquavit, Oloroso sherry, ginger, lime, pumpkin) and the Christmopolitan (vodka, elderflower, fig, spiced cranberry sauce, lime) which will be served in festive, custom Miracle glassware.

Find out more at Facebook. And listen for my interview with Doug Petry next week.

 

Lola at Butchertown Grocery opens tonight

Tonight, Thanksgiving Eve, the most popular bar night of the year, the partners of Butchertown Grocery will relaunch their second-floor lounge under the name of Lola at Butchertown Grocery.

Don’t get too hung up on the name; it’s not a reference to the Kinks’ famous tune about a guy mistakenly falling for a transvestite, or the heartbroken waitress in Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana.” It’s just a sobriquet executive chef and partner Bobby Benjamin thought sounded lighthearted.

“Everybody’s thinking it means something in particular,” says Benjamin, “but it’s nothing concrete. Lola is a fun name, so that’s kind of the personality we want this place to have: fun.”

Not that Butchertown Grocery isn’t fun, it’s just different fun centered on more expensive and serious food, a reservations-recommended spot for the dining cognoscenti seeking a culinary experience.

To left, a tasty Lola negroni. | Photo by Rick Redding

To left, a tasty Lola negroni. | Photo by Rick Redding

“Lola is relaxed, a different vibe all the way around,” Benjamin says. “Very approachable.”

For example, beverage director Nic Christiansen’s 14-item cocktail menu includes a list of nine shots combining a mix of straight spirits and amaros. If knocking back a straight pour isn’t exciting enough, pour it into a “bone luge,” a halved beef bone the drinker angles into one’s mouth for shooting booze Fred Flintstone-style.

“It’s what Lola would do,” Benjamin says, grinning. “She’d do the luge.”

His partners, attorney Jon Salomon and My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan, refer to the space as a living room away from home, a gathering place that sometimes is more energetic than the restaurant downstairs, other times more subdued—a mood that’s easy to achieve in the largely candlelit room. (“More lighting is coming, we’re working on that,” Benjamin insists. That our press group ate and drank by candlelight is why we have no food pictures worth showing. Though she doesn’t even exist, I’m sure Lola would be offended by our photography were she real.)

“Sometimes people come for the live music, other times you can tell they like that it’s quiet,” Hallahan says. “The music that we’ve had here has been something to see.”

That includes appearances by famed bluegrass fiddler Michael Cleveland and impromptu piano playing by Teddy Abrams, conductor of the Louisville Orchestra.

“Teddy Abrams has kind of a residency here,” Hallahan says. “He’ll be up there playing that piano, just grinning and having a great time.”

Expect more live music, Hallahan adds, and possibly poetry and Moth-style storytelling nights.

It’s also now a place to eat. Benjamin created a short and mostly Lola-dedicated menu of sandwiches and bar snacks such as its portabello fries with a sambal aioli and “a spinach and artichoke dip that’s actually really good. I’ve always thought that dip really wanted to be good, but it wasn’t,” he said. Or, perhaps just not good enough for Lola.

Per his touches, the Cuban sandwich gets some pork and pizzazz from Broadbent’s country ham, and the “Ladies Man” cod sandwich isn’t your average Louisville fish sandwich: Belgian beer battered, house-made pickles and a punched-up tartar sauce turn that staple into a standout. On late nights, classic American hamburgers will be sold as well from 12:30-2 a.m. Food prices range from $5-$13.

In addition to an abundance of cushy couches, there are seats at tables and the bar. So don’t think you have to eat standing.

Lola is so all her own thing that she has her own entrance on the Buchanan St. side of the building. Just look for the sign and climb the stairs.

Lola will be open for dinner and late-night cocktails Wednesday and Sunday 6 p.m. to midnight, and Thursday through Saturday 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. For more information, visit www.gotolola.com beginning Wednesday, Nov. 16 or follow on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Time to Party – It’s Thanksgiving Eve at Gerstle’s

If you’ve passed the college-age crowd, moved on from the attitude of all-night-drinking and wondering what you did last night, you might not realize that tonight is the biggest party night of the year for many local bars.

For 41-year-old Eric White, who’s owned Gerstle’s in St. Matthews for eight years, it’s a known fact that the kids coming home from college with no reason to get up on Thursday means a packed house. It’s time to book the best bands (This, That and the Other is playing tonight) and make sure there’s plenty of kegs of Bud Light on hand.

“Thanksgiving is probably the busiest week of the year for us and a lot of bars around town,” said White, who has rebuilt the bar, added a patio and upgraded the kitchen. “Thanksgiving Eve is the big night. Everybody comes back home from college or out of town and they all have a good time.”

Of course, you don’t remember a time when Gerstle’s wasn’t anchoring the party scene in St. Matthews, because the bar opened in 1924 with John Gerstle turned his house into a bar. While you might remember Maier’s and Dutch’s, White is proud to say that Gerstle’s has outlasted them all and is the oldest bar in town, and that he’s carrying on a long-held tradition.

“We used to say it’s not your grandpa’s bar, but for a lot of people it was their grandparents and parents who first came in here,” he said.

No Coils at Gerstle's

No Coils at Gerstle’s

For a few years in the 1990s, the property was converted into an upscale restaurant called The Avenue, but after a few years new owners returned it to Gerstle’s, including the sign out front with a quirky saying.

“We get a lot of questions about the the ‘no coils’ means on the neon sign out front. I’ve heard it used to be no girls allowed, but they just put no coils. But actually I think it has something to do with the draft beer system,” White said.

And while Gerstle’s, along with Diamonds, Tin Roof, Molly Malone’s, Mello Mushroom, Drake’s, BBC and Saints assure that things are hopping this weekend in St. Matt’s, White acknowledges his bar until recently hadn’t been the go-to spot.

“When I took over, everybody knew about Gerstle’s, but the reputation was not a good one. They thought it was a dark, dirty, hole-in-the-wall bar, didn’t have food and what they had wasn’t good,” he said. “We had to come in and change that whole perception of what people thought Gerstle’s was. We’re still a neighborhood nostalgic bar, with a lot of upgrades, including the kitchen.”

On Black Friday, Gerstle’s hosts an event showcasing chef Ronnie Dingman’sscreen-shot-2016-11-23-at-7-30-36-am work in the kitchen. Eat. Drink. Donate (catchy name, huh?), is sponsored by Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey, and will include a live radio remote, with benefits going to Wayside Christian Mission. The featured item — leftovers.

“They are going to be true leftovers,” said Dingman, who came on board a few years ago to re-energize the kitchen. “We’re gonna be roasting turkeys early in the week, and we’re going to literally take what’s left over and make some really good sandwiches. We’ll have cranberry aioli, so there’s going to be a real icebox kind of sandwich. You grab some turkey, you grab some bread, you spread it on there.”

If you come, bring some canned goods, gloves, socks, or hats for Wayside Christian Mission’s The Miracle on Broadway.

Listen to this week’s EatDrinkTalk podcast, featuring Eric White and Ronnie Dingman, right here.

Gospel Bird proves worthy of the drive to New Albany … and other news

Bold eats paired with bourbon and Bluegrass at Gospel Bird: There’s ample irony in the rusticity of Eric Morris’s food, for nothing he makes is truly as simple as it appears. As the chef-owner at New Albany’s Gospel Bird, Morris brings modern thinking to staple Southern dishes that otherwise might strike some as homely.

Cornbread biscuit, country ham and spicy orange marmalade. | Photo by Steve Coomes

Cornbread biscuit, country ham and spicy orange marmalade. | Photo by Steve Coomes

At Monday’s Bluegrass & Bourbon dinner, the cocktail paired meal led with a country ham and cornbread biscuit with spicy orange marmalade. Call it haute hillbilly chow that was really good. I’d have been happy just with that one filling course.

But on its heels came fork tender smoked beef brisket served over cauliflower grits and garnished with cole slaw. Yes, as hearty as it sounds, but not as ordinary as you’d think. The combinational was exceptional and filling.

And doesn’t everyone serve a fried chicken quarter as the closing course of a three-course meal? Well, OK, maybe just Morris and Colonel Sanders, but this wasn’t remotely KFC-like. Tender, flavorful and I’ll-have-another-when-I’m-less-full-next-month good.

Fried chicken and waffle. | Photo by Steve Coomes

Fried chicken and waffle. | Photo by Steve Coomes.

Oh, the Bourbon and Bluegrass part: Hickory Vaught and Bernie Lubbers provided some great hayseed tunes, and Heaven Hill, for which Lubbers works as global brand ambassador, provided pre-meal sips of Larceny, Elijah Craig, Rittenhouse Rye and Evan Williams Single Barrel. (Ritt-rye rocks!)

Cool place, great food and drink, worth the drive to “N’Ablany.”

In other news …

Rumor Mill: A well-placed source says an out of town real estate company is buying up closed restaurant spaces and working to reopen them. No one asked me, but that’s a nutty strategy here where the independent restaurant market is saturated, and the labor pool is nearly dry and already lean on experience. Another well-placed source keeps saying more restaurant closings to come. Could be some Christmas coal in some stockings.

That whiskey’s worthy of a Celebration! Tasted the 2016 Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash Whiskey today for a review I’ll do for a brown-liquor publication. This is a one-off blend of bourbon and rye whiskeys from six barrels as young as 10 years old and as old as 33. Suggested retail cost on this release is $5,000 per 750ml ($441 per shot, if that’s how you drink yours). Yep, out of my price range, too, but only by a little bit. (Well, if you count $4,950 a little short.)

And, so, how was it, you ask? Amazing. Freaky good. Caramel, citrus, oak, marshmallow, mild tobacco, wild cherry wood on the nose and the palate… need I go on? OK, I will. Even at 116.8 proof, but it’s a softy of a sipper. It’s one you don’t really want to swallow because it’s so fun to let it hang around your mouth for a bit. (Click here for some details from a news release we ran on it last week.)

Lights on at Lola tomorrow night: My EDT partner Rick Redding and I are headed to today’s media event at Lola, which is the name of the newly tweaked upstairs lounge concept at Butchertown Grocery. Expect a follow up story tomorrow—along with some pre-Thanksgiving fasting as we process what surely will be some good grub from executive chef Bobby Benjamin. Bar manager Nic Christiansen will see some spotlight also as her new cocktail menu is rolled out. Official opening is Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve. Click here for a more detailed story I wrote last week.

 

Thanks, Y’all, with Scene’s Scott Darnell and the Gang from Gerstle’s

We’re showing a gratitude Thanksgiving week with a great show that we lovingly call “the finest restaurant and spirits podcast ever created for Louisville restaurants and bars.” Of course, the big news story was the sale of the Lynn’s Paradise Cafe on Barret to Martin’s Bar-B-Que. As Steve notes, the four years that the property spent on the market had a detrimental effect on the sale price — which dropped from Winter’s requested $8 million to $1.5 million in the end. But what’s disappointing is that it wasn’t purchased by a local operator. Restaurateurs are facing a new challenge in that come Dec. 1, new labor laws will change, in a negative way, the bottom line for restaurant owners and employees. Listen in as we discuss the new law and its potential effect on business. Also, we’re looking forward to the opening of Lola, the new lounge located upstairs at Butchertown Grocery this week, plus a speakeasy in popular Germantown.

Steve’s guest is Scott Darnell, the executive chef as the newly announced Scene, a fast-casual spot inside the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. Learn how Darnell’s plan for the location differs from several predecessors that didn’t realize profits there. Rick sat down at Gerstle’s, which owner Eric White claims is the oldest bar in the city, to talk about the biggest party weekend of the year for local nightspots, and a special promotion from his kitchen. Gerstle’s chef Ronnie Dingman, also on the show, explains a new twist they’re doing on leftovers in a benefit for Wayside Christian Mission that’s sponsored by Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey.

Picking a favorite wasn’t easy for Steve, who enjoyed a spectacular meal at Butchertown Grocery featuring some special creations by chef Bobby Benjamin, including potato gnocchi and a grilled lamb chop his wife deemed “the best I ever had.” To go with it, he had a drink called the Scofflaw, a classic cocktail blending rye whiskey, dry vermouth, grenadine and orange bitters.

On Thursday, we’ll be giving Thanks to all of you for downloading and listening to our podcast each and every week.

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Ronnie Dingman with Eric White at Gerstle’s

edtscottdarnell

Scott Darnell

 

A Big Eatin’ and Drinkin’ News Week, and the Rest of the Stories

We’re thrilled to have so much news to report this week — at last, movement on the old Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, the long-awaited opening of Angel’s Envy downtown, a highly-anticipated new nightspot in Butchertown and a $5,000 bottle of whiskey. And to think that  a week from now you might be carving a turkey for your family – now you can hear from a guy who’s fixing Thanksgiving dinner for 7,000 people. Check out the David Danielson interview in this week’s EatDrinkTalk podcast.

And this. . .

We Take Credit for the Inspiration: A Black Friday event set for Gerstle’s will benefit Wayside Christian Mission.  Eat.Drink.Donate at Gerstle’s in St. Matthews includes some Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey Drink specials and “Fill your Flask” giveaways. It starts at Noon, and you can feast on leftovers at the bar before all the kids get there.

Going Meatless on Thursday?: LEO Weekly critic Robin Garr provides a list of meat-less options for Turkey Day, not counting Tofurkey, from local spots like Roots, Feast and Le Moo. There’s even a roasted cauliflower entrée from Brooklyn and the Butcher.

Holiday Cocktails: You can impress your friends with your bourbon expertise, if you take notes, tonight at the Whiskey Chicks event at the Liquor Barn. For $25, you’ll get an education in batch cocktails and appetizers. Yes, you get to sample the goods.

How to Do Ham Right: EDT’s own Steve Coomes will help you ham enthusiasts do country ham right with a workshop titled: “Hamcrafted: A Hams-on Workshop for the Country Ham Enthusiast.” It’s Dec. 8 at Cooper and Kings. Your ticket ($35) includes a copy of Steve’s book on the topic. Also sharing info will be veteran ham curers Chris and Steve Makk.

Beer Goes with Anything: Even Yoga, right? Goodwood Brewing invites you to enjoy an hour of free yoga, then cool off with a cold beer. It starts at 5:30 Monday at 636 East Main.

Ciao, on Payne Street

Ciao, on Payne Street

Ciao, Y’all: A new restaurant we gotta check out is Ciao, in the old Baxter Station on Payne Street. As mentioned in our podcast, we think the operators could put more attention into marketing. But early reviews are positive, the interior finishes are impressive, and the menu has traditional Italian (lasagna) along with items like shrimp scampi pizza.

 

‘Yuge’ money left on table in Lynn’s sale to Martin’s BBQ

Nearly four years have passed since Lynn Winter shuttered her super-successful Lynn’s Paradise Café, a restaurant that arguably was Louisville’s best-known nationally. The iconic kingdom of kitsch, located at 984 Barret Ave. at the edge of the Original Highlands, drew regular crowds that included tour busloads of people eager to dine among a forest of tacky lamps.

According to Winter, the restaurant hauled in $4 million in annual revenue, a sum many local restaurateurs don’t compile in four years. Yet she shut it down on Jan. 12, 2013, with no explanation why. (At the time, I wrote for Insider Louisville. Read my column for the deeper story behind the controversial closure.)

Fast forward several months to when Winter’s silence thawed (she said health problems led her to close it) and she put the restaurant on the market. Suitors eager to land the property scrambled for a date with Lynn and pitched their woo with what they considered nice offers. One potential buyer spoke of offering nearly $3 million, and would have considered $4 million had Winter negotiated. Another said a group offered $2.6 million, but would have gone to $3.4—had Winter negotiated.

Steve Coomes | Photo by Nancy LaRocca

Steve Coomes | Photo by Nancy LaRocca

She spurned them both (and others as well) because she wanted $8 million for the restaurant. Plus, any deal had to include her as an in-house consultant on the operation.

If those potential buyers weren’t so stunned by her counter proposal and insistence on involvement, they’d have laughed at her. But they said her stance wasn’t laughable at all, it was crazy.

Today, we all know just how crazy she was to not accept those original offers. Multiple media outlets are reporting that Winter sold her property to the Nashville-based Fresh Capital Group for $1.5 million. Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, one of many operations FCG has helped grow, will open there in 2017, marking its second Louisville location. (Martin’s opened in Louisville this week. Click here for our first look.)

As Sen. Bernie Sanders would say, she left a “yuge” chunk of change on the table by sidestepping those original offers.

She wanted $8 million and she got $1.5 million. That’s a gulf of $6.5 million.

She was offered $3 million and could have gotten $4 million had she played nice. That’s a real money gap of $2.5 million.

So let’s ‘cipher a little further and add up the lost income. Had she not closed the restaurant 42 months ago and allowed her business to continue its $4 million annual revenue pace, Lynn’s would have drawn nearly $14 million out of diners’ wallets and purses. And if her net profit was, say, 10 percent on all that food, drink and gift shop stuff, she’d have pocketed an additional $1.4 million.

The math assumes a lot here, so in a very general sense, her belief that Lynn’s was worth far more to her than every buyer who approached her, she cost herself almost $4 million by not selling on sensible terms. That these terms were offered by already well-established local operators makes it all the more confounding. I always find it a miss when local business people don’t win the deal.

Despite all the negativity surrounding Winter, I still view see this outcome as sad. Winter caught lightning in a bottle twice: first at 2206 Frankfort Ave., where she opened Lynn’s; then at her Barret Ave. location, a former Key Market that many deemed unsuitable for a restaurant. My goodness, did she ever prove them wrong.

Winter made it all big: the business, its reputation locally and nationally, her personal brand, its unique position in the community—it was flat-out loved for all the right reasons. It became a dining institution on par with any legendary Louisville restaurant, and it was all its own. Winter has been accused of many things, but being a copycat of any one else’s restaurant wasn’t among them. The lady hoed a completely new row.

But she erred in judging the value of that property and her value to buyers whom she was certain would want her in their operation. Perhaps her past success had gone to her head and she believed she could bottle lightning once more. If so, that bottle leaked.