Great Flood’s New Shelby Park Brewery Key to Growth Strategy

With a new 11,000-square-foot facility, the guys from Great Flood Brewery are increasing annual production from 300 barrels to more than 4,000. Their new facility features a new 465-gallon brew system with six fermenters and a five-head canning line, which can fill and seal 40 cans per minute.

Outside of the cool brewing equipment, the Shelby Park office space is filled with hand-me-down couches and an old fridge. Which is about what you’d expect from a trio of entrepreneurs just a few years removed from the University of Louisville business school.


Matt Fuller and Zach Barnes

“We were friends in college, in business school,” said Zach Barnes, who started home brewing with Matt Fuller and Vince Cain in 2012, buying their first brew kit with a Groupon. They opened the business in 2014.

“We had the same interests,” said Fuller, during an EatDrinkTalk podcast interview. “Basically we started drinking some beer, and we were drinking whatever is at the party or on special. Then you try something that’s a seasonal, or special, and that light went on that this is kind of cool. I didn’t know beer could taste like this.”

Fuller said that after trying corporate jobs out of school, the trio came together and started Great Flood by opening a Tap Room in the Highlands, selling the small batches of beer they were making.

“A lot of our regular clientele lives within a mile of our Tap Room, and that’s something we only dreamt of,” he said. “That support has allowed us to get more customers from our production side through the rest of the city, and make our name for good beer known.”

2017-03-27 10.02.43Moving to the huge facility in Shelby Park marked a milestone, and Mayor Greg Fischer came to the March 24 ribbon cutting.

“Here in Louisville we have heritage beer brands and then we have beer brands built on heritage, and the future is bright for both. The success of Great Flood Brewing Co. is great news for the Shelby Park neighborhood and for our growing craft beer scene,” said Fischer. “We are thrilled to see that Louisville has embraced this hometown brand and hope to see continued growth in the future.”

Running a small business means, of course, that each member of the team has a specific role, but everyone pitches in on every task. Fuller runs the production, Barnes handles numbers and Cain does sales and marketing.

“The three of us are in production, sales and finance, and janitorial,” Barnes said. “We do a little bit of everything. Being from Louisville, we want to make sure and put a precedent on establishing relationships here.”

With the increased capacity, Fuller said Great Flood can focus on scaling upward.

“It takes the same amount of time and similar effort — and in a 12-13 hour day and you end up with a lot more beer.”

“We have a lot of new toys and that’s made life easier,” he said. “We put a lot of time and money into our lab. So we’ve got a commitment to quality and consistency. Keeping that in the forefront is something we get excited about,” he said.

Now that it has the production capability, Great Flood’s owners are taking the brand to bars and retailers throughout the state.






EDT EXCLUSIVE: Bourbon & Beyond sales pitch details highly ambitious, whiskey-centered festival

If Danny Wimmer Presents (DWP) can pull off even half of what it’s proposing to do for the inaugural Bourbon & Beyond event in September, the celebration of Kentucky food, drink and music will be a major hit. But that’s a big if.

DWP’s plans are exceptionally ambitious, especially for a large-scale event set to run the weekend of Sept. 23-24, less than six months from now.

Our deeper look into the makings of Bourbon & Beyond came from a PDF sales deck originally sent to Kentucky bourbon distillers and later supplied to Eat Drink Talk. Its stated mission is, “To blend the best of a bourbon festival, a food festival, and a music festival into a new and exciting format for casual drinkers, foodies, and music lovers.” But the pitch reveals much more. The two-day festival will center on bourbon education, cocktail making, Louisville neighborhood restaurant food exhibits, larger-scale private dinners, music concerts, comedy and storytelling performances.

Bourbon & Beyond will be held at Champions Park on River Road, where DWP believes it can attract 50,000 visitors. Such crowds are the same size drawn to the park for DWP’s Louder than Life heavy metal concert, held each fall. So it’s not out of the question that organizers can handle the numbers.

A snip from a page in the sales pitch to Kentucky distillers.

A snip from a page in the sales pitch to Kentucky distillers.

But several questions remain about whether it can execute such a broad vision—especially when there’s no indication that Kentucky distillers are on board. According to Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA) in Frankfort, his constituents are planning a meeting to discuss not only whether they want to be involved, but whether they can be.

“We are working to learn more, and our members have asked us to coordinate a meeting with the organizers,” Gregory said in a statement.

As scheduled, Bourbon & Beyond follows one week after the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. In its 26th year, it remains the state’s largest bourbon event, attracting more than 50,000 people to Bardstown over six days. Kentucky distillers are heavily involved in the festival, and commit considerable staff and liquor resources. Guests can spend next to nothing or as much as $175 to attend specific events.

KDA members also are deeply involved in the annual Kentucky Bourbon Affair, held this year from June 6-11. This multi-day, multi-session event is a high-end “fantasy camp” that draws bourbon lovers from around the country, some of whom regard it as a bucket list item. Affair prices range from $125 to $250. As with the Bourbon Festival, distilleries commit significant resources to the Affair—which is capped off with the second-annual Whisky Live Louisville on June 10. Cost for that event is $149 for regular admission, $199 for VIP admission.

As one industry source told me confidentially, “How many dollars can anyone expect bourbon fans to spend on this many events in such a short period of time?”

EatDrinkTalk requested an interview with DWP but was told via email that the organizer would like to wait until “the line up is set and ready to be announced mid-April.”

So here are all the proposed details we have so far, wrapped up into summary including some paraphrasing, quotes from the sales pitch, and with some remarks of ours added in:

Bourbon & Beyond is a bourbon festival for the casual drinker: From the pitch: “We are creating an immersive destination to weave bourbons into fun interactive experiences and hands-on workshops; no tastings or exhibits. (EDT is not clear on what “no tastings or exhibits” means.) Our target audience is the casual drinker, diverse 24- to 40-year-olds, even split of 50% male and 50% female … and (our) secondary target is bourbon aficionados, high-income 40- to 55-year-olds.”

This will all come with a “deliciously approachable food festival,” including chefs “to deliver creatively-elevated and affordable concessions; no all-you-can-eat formats or expensive tasting pavilions.”

Expect “additional nighttime events, group tours, as well as pre- and post-festival experiences extend throughout the greater Kentucky area.”

A page snip containing a few of the famous faces who might appear at Bourbon & Beyond.

A page snip containing a few of the famous faces who might appear at Bourbon & Beyond.

“Bourbon Experiences.” These include re-creations of cooperages and distilleries, as well as “Secret Speakeasies” hidden throughout the festival grounds and requiring a different method of entry to each. The pitch mentions a miniature version of The Bourbon Trail (which I’m confident the KDA will put its foot down about the use of that trademarked name) and a Rare Bar … that’s “limited to only the most discerning of bourbon drinkers, but those who gain admittance are rewarded with access to a comfortable and relaxing lounge with some of the toughest-to-find bourbons in the world.”

Bourbon Workshops seem pretty straightforward and include discussions of distillation, bartending and cooking with bourbon.

The food component is a three-tier affair blending Restaurant Rows, Culinary Experiences and The Feasts.

Restaurant Rows are exhibits bearing the names of some of the city’s most notable restaurant neighborhoods. (One assumes they will be operated by staffs from restaurants located in those Rows.) They include A Taste of The Highlands; Downtown; Frankfort Avenue Trolley Hop; Germantown Biergarten; and NuLu Fest.

Culinary Experiences are described thusly: “Louisville chefs collaborate with chefs from across the country on developing themed culinary experiences. Each experience is inspired by a musical genre and offers delicious dishes, craft cocktails, and plenty of entertainment guaranteed to impress even the most cynical foodie. (EDT note: If anyone knows what a “cynical foodie” is, please tell us.) Culinary Experiences include Tiki Disco (no details); Funk & Soul & BBQ (“pitmasters challenged to cook different styles of barbecue … bartenders shaking “delicious throwback cocktails and spontaneously organize soul train dance parties”); and Riot Grill (no details).

Feasts: Described as, “Smaller groups of festivalgoers are invited to the feasts; where chefs curate an entire dining experience at the festival. These ticketed events offer guests the chance to sit down, relax, and enjoy more interactive or immersive experience, with plenty of bourbon pairings.” There are three: The Big Easy Crawfish Boil; Fried Chicken & Champagne; and Bourbon Beefsteak Bacchanal. (EDT note: We’re thinking “smaller groups” does not mean small groups, but rather groups of 100 or more.)

Music, Comedy & Talks are described this way: “Our potential lineup is a diverse, eclectic, and exciting collection of musicians, comedians, and personalities who embody the passion and soul of Bourbon & Beyond and are guaranteed to attract our target audience of 24- to 55-year-old bourbon drinkers from a 300-mile radius.” Were it not for some pictures of folks like Aziz Ansari, Amy Schumer, Anthony Bourdain, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, we’d not know who DWP might be suggesting. Whether these headliners are have signed on or their images are being used as placeholders, we don’t know.

Celebrities to take the stage for Convos & Demos include “some of the most influential and leading personalities in bourbon, food, drink, and industry to participate in conversations and demonstrations. Ideas include cooking demonstrations, father-son distiller conversations, speed bartending competitions.” A few celebs pictured are local chefs Edward Lee (610 Magnolia, MilkWood) and Annie Pettry (Decca), along with Maker’s Mark’s Bill and Rob Samuels (father and son, but not distillers), and actor Matthew McConaughey, who became a Wild Turkey spokesman last year.

Though many more details are in the sales pitch, we’ll stop here and promise to share more as we talk to DWP and distillers around the state.

End note: We at Eat Drink Talk are not against Bourbon & Beyond—at all. We only hope the Los Angeles-based Danny Wimmer Presents can succeed in bringing a large-scale event that celebrates Kentucky’s whiskey, food, distillers and chefs in an exceptional manner. We’re eager to hear the final details and learn who in the Bluegrass will assist in making this happen.

Johnny V’s in Jtown Closing, RecBar Partners Planning to Move in

Johnny V’s in Jeffersontown will close its doors for good March 31, but the building that housed the casual Italian restaurant on the downtown square won’t be empty for long.

That’s because the entrepreneurial duo behind the RecBar, located just out the back door of Johnny V’s, plans to open and operate Mac’s Dough House, a pizza restaurant, in that space beginning in June.

RecBar has plenty of pinball

RecBar has plenty of pinball

Johnny V’s occupied its spot on the square for eight years, and had become a popular place for watching TV sports.

In a Facebook post on the Johnny V’s page, owner Jimbo Schaffer explained it this way:

It has been an absolute pleasure serving the J-town community since 2009! We have loved every single minute of serving you, getting to know you and your families and being apart of so many wonderful memories of your lives! Each one of you have brought such joy to all of our hearts and we are more than grateful for your support through these years! Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and Johnny V’s last full day will be Friday March 31st. So please….stop in and see us this week! We will miss you more than you could ever imagine, but please know new things are on our horizon to serve this amazing community! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for everything!!! Until we meet again…CHEERS!!

At the same time, owners Corey Sims and Tony Thomas, who opened RecBar last April, created the Mac’s Dough House Facebook page, and Thomas wrote this post:

I am excited to announce we will be opening our second venue. Mac’s Dough House will open in June. Grateful to team up with Corey Sims and Jimbo Schaffer for this adventure. I am thankful for the support from all of our friends and families. Big thanks to my wife Emilee Thomas for the endless support and encouragement, love you. The Schaffer’s, Sims, and Thomas families going to do big things.

RecBar, which took over a spot that had housed a series of bars and most recently Ann Marie’s Bacon Bar, has enjoyed success catering to people who enjoy a video game or two with their beer. Thomas and Sims, both of whom previously worked at Fourth Street Live! venues, made the break to open their own place last year. RecBar has more than 35 video games and 25 pinball machines. 

Sims and Thomas had conflicts today and couldn’t be interviewed, but Sims said in an email that the opening of Mac’s Dough House was 6-8 weeks away.

Sims appeared on the Jeffersontown Chamber podcast last April.

Now Pouring: Varanese Unveils his Maker’s Mark 46 Private Select

Last fall, Chef John Varanese and his team took advantage of a special opportunity at the Maker’s Mark distillery in Loretto: to create his own Maker’s Mark 46 Private Select barrel. As he describes it, his group of five sat around a table sampling Maker’s 46 bourbon aged with different barrel staves and blended to create unique flavors. It took 25-30 blends to arrive at the the exact taste he wanted.

(Our own Steve Coomes has done the process twice and called it, “One of the most exciting experiences in American whiskey today.”)

Chef John Varanese. Photo by Bill Brymer

Chef John Varanese. Photo by Bill Brymer

Varanese’s final combination — 2 Baked American Pure staves, 1 Seared French Cuvee stave, 1 Maker’s 46 stave, 5 Roasted French Mocha stave, and 1 Toasted French Spice — yielded a bourbon with “creamy mouthfeel with distinct undertones of mocha and a toasted spice finish.”

Sound delicious? Varanese’s private barrel selection is now available only in his restaurants: Varanese on Frankfort Ave.; River House; and Levee at River House on River Road. He created two special events to unveil it, one on March 21 at the River House, where, for $35, guests enjoyed three 1 oz. pours that included side-by-side tastings of other Maker’s options, and appetizers. Guests also got to meet Rob Samuels, president of Maker’s.

And while Varanese said that event may have fallen slightly short of expectations, the March 28 dinner at his Frankfort Ave. restaurant is sold out with more than 100 reservations. Bill Samuels, Jr. will be on hand for the four-course private dinner, in which each of the courses is paired with Maker’s Mark bourbons, including the Varanese’s Private Select. The culinary team even utilized four of the five wood staves used to create the Private Select flavor in the cooking process for the dinner.

While you can’t experience that one unless you already have a reservation, Varanese will be offering 2-oz. pours of his Private Select 46 for $25, as long as his supply of 240 bottles lasts. He’s not sure how long that will be.

“We’re selling pretty quick, so it will probably go quickly,” he said. “I hope it will last about a year.”

Varanese said the opportunity from Maker’s is only offered to about a hundred accounts in the U.S., and said he believes only to 10 in Louisville. (Westport Whiskey & Wine just received its PS 46.) And when he does exhaust his supply, he hopes to do it again, using the same recipe that’s exclusive to him.

“We really enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of this program and I’m really proud of our selection,” he said.

Great Flood’s New Spot with Zach Barnes and Matt Fuller; Brett Davis Talks Up the New Red Herring

It’s a delicious week for news on the city’s best restaurant and bar podcast, and we get right to it with the surprising story that Z’s Oyster Bar downtown is closing, at least temporarily, according to a sign on the door. Owners blamed the ongoing construction of the Convention Center and the Omni Hotel for a substantial sales slump. Certainly we hope to see Z’s again downtown. We’re looking forward to the late April opening of the Red Herring Cocktail Lounge & Kitchen, a new operation located next to the Silver Dollar on Frankfort. It’s backed by Doc Crow’s co-owner Brett Davis (more on him later) and a pair of managers who just left 8UP downtown.

The word on the first-ever local bourbon-themed festival here is something to get excited about. Bourbon and Beyond will take place at Champions Park on River Road in September, and we’re hearing there will be a stellar lineup of celebrities, chefs, distillers and musicians on hand—if the promoter is able to pull it off. Steve checked in on the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse Cocktail Program, sure to be a great tourist attraction on Fourth Street Live.

In our Copper & Kings Favorites segment, Rick picked a chocolate pecan doughnut from Hi-Five on East Main, where the two women proprietors are making a name for themselves. Steve visited Pat’s Place in Bardstown for some good ‘ole comfort food. Steve picked the winner in a cocktail contest called the Petal Pusher, while Rick enjoyed the Brooklyn from the cocktail menu at LouVino in Middletown.

Rick talked to our first guests, Zach Barnes and Matt Fuller, at the new brewery complex they’re operating in Shelby Park, while Steve got the scoop on the Red Herring from the man who is making it happen, Brett Davis. All that and more on the city’s finest dining and drinking podcast, sponsored by Harvest Restaurant and the Eye Care Institute.


Matt Fuller and Zach Barnes at Great Flood Brewing

Red Herring Cocktail & Lounge & Kitchen owner Brett Davis with chef Jacob Coronado. | Photo by Steve Coomes

Red Herring Cocktail & Lounge & Kitchen owner Brett Davis with chef Jacob Coronado. | Photo by Steve Coomes

Brett Davis to open Red Herring cocktail lounge in April

If all goes according to plan, restaurateur Brett Davis will open the Red Herring Cocktail Lounge & Kitchen the third week of April in the old Hilltop Theater at 1757 Frankfort Ave. And strangely enough—especially for restaurants—construction of what he predicts will be the “most beautiful cocktail lounge in Louisville” is on schedule, and in one key respect, ahead of it.

“I haven’t had to advertise at all for employees because we’re already fully staffed,” said Davis, one of the city’s two Master Sommeliers. “That’s never happened before in my career. … But that’s happened because of what we’re doing here and how we’ll use our staff.”

With the backing of building owner and business partner Mo Deljoo, Davis is creating a space designed first for the enjoyment of cocktails and supplemented with an approachable food menu. Guests will choose from a 100-cocktail list created by Clay Livingston, former bar manager at 8UP, and eat from a still-in-design menu of burgers, hot dogs, halibut cheeks and more created by Jacob Coronado, 8UP’s former executive chef. Menu prices will range from $6 to $10 for cocktails and $15 or less for food. Operating hours are 4 p.m. until 2 a.m. daily, with food served until 1 a.m.

The Red Herring will be located in the old Hilltop Theater, right next door to the Silver Dollar. | Photo by Steve Coomes

The Red Herring will be located in the old Hilltop Theater, right next door to the Silver Dollar. | Photo by Steve Coomes

On the building’s main floor will be a large bar surrounded by high-top tables and seating for 45. The upper level, which overlooks the bar below, will seat the same number but on banquets and lounge chairs. There will be more seating outdoors on a sun-splashed patio with herb gardens for Coronado’s kitchen.

Davis said he was inspired by Houston’s Anvil Bar & Refuge and The Violet Hour in Chicago because of their approachability and ambitious cocktail menus.

“We’ll have a book of what I think are the 100 most-classic cocktails, but we’ll also have a blender behind the bar for frozen drinks,” he said. “You can get adult milk shakes and we’re going to have domestic lager poured at 29 degrees in to a frozen chalice. We’re not trying to be snooty.”

Some specialized drinks will break the $10 mark, Davis added, when they call on pricy ingredients, but he expects most customers will prefer choosing from the house list.

He said there will be a whiskey program, but not one as ambitious as that at his other restaurant, Doc Crow’s, that has “over 100 bourbons and 200 whiskeys. … It’s all about the cocktail.”

Davis said the front-of-the-house staff will consist of bartenders who can make drinks and serve them. Similarly, cooks will be dispatched to bring food from the kitchen to guests. This, Coronado allowed, will take training, but he said he’s excited to let the back of the house interact with guests.

“We cook for everybody, we’re a team, and they’re excited to see the other side,” Coronado said. “What we’re trying to build here is revolutionary.”

Davis said opening near Derby Week is ideal, since visitors to the city won’t know about Red Herring. That brief period of anonymity will give his staff a gentler ramp up toward busier periods. If that opening goal is missed, then the new date will be the second week in May.

Why the name Red Herring, you ask? Davis said part of the experience is to imagine you’re walking in to the elegant old movie theater, and then finding yourself in a modern cocktail lounge.

“That’s the red herring; it’s just a diversion,” he said. “We think it’s going to be fun.”

Beam Urban Stillhouse intros cocktail making experience for bourbon fans

It’s pretty cool that Kentucky distilleries now can make cocktails on premise. But at the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse on Fourth Street Live!, visitors can get in on the ice-and-liquor-shaking action with a new interactive cocktail making experience.

Last week, several reporters and other guests gathered at the Urban Stillhouse to go through the experience ourselves with instructors Bobby Gleason and Beth Burrows. With all the bourbon, flavor amendments and bar tools on hand, the pair led us to make two shaken drinks that are easily duplicable at home.

Bobby Gleason, master mixologist for Beam Brands, walked guests through the cocktail making experience. | Photo courtesy of Jim Beam

Bobby Gleason, master mixologist for Beam Brands, walked guests through the cocktail making experience. | Photo courtesy of Jim Beam

The point, of course, is to make the Stillhouse experience more interactive, and to boost drinkers’ confidence in cocktail making. Oh, and to get more people using Beam spirits at home, of course.

Sound interesting? The cocktail classes happen seven times each day, on the hour every hour. Tickets for the experience cost $18 and are, of course, for those 21 and older. (To prime your palate, do the $5 Taste of History, which lets you select a few Beam whiskeys to taste straight.) Beam expects the experience to be popular with visitors on the Urban Bourbon Trail, as well as groups just looking for a fun way to spend about 45 minutes.

I know my reporter peers and I had fun, so give it a shot.

The ‘Ville Gets Its Bourbon Festival, Thanks to L.A. Producer

About three years ago, Mayor Greg Fischer started a Bourbon and Work Food Group for the purpose of boosting bourbon-related tourism in Louisville. That group, composed of about 50 individuals representing distilleries, restaurants and tourism agencies, produced a report highlighting initiatives important to achieve if Louisville was to become “the world’s best culinary and spirits city.”

At the top of the list was to create an annual “world-class bourbon and food festival.” And while there have been meetings and discussion over how the city could produce such an ambitious event, that discussion ended recently when a private firm in the business of festival production stepped up and said — “We’ll do it.”

Thus was the creation of Bourbon and Beyond, made public this week by Danny Wimmer Productions, an L.A.-based festival promoter with events currently in 11 cities, including the Louder Than Life Festival that’s now planning its fourth rendition for Sept. 30-Oct. 1.

“it was going to be a partial city event, then Danny Wimmer Productions decided to take all the risk and produce it themselves,” said Chris Poynter, spokesman for Mayor Greg Fischer. “It shows how far we’ve come in the growth of our bourbon and food industry that a private company sees it and does it at its own risk.”

Bourbon and Beyond is set for Sept. 23-24, the weekend before Louder Than Life, in the same location. Champions Park is on River Road west of Zorn. The property will be rented to Wimmer Productions by Metro Parks for the entire period.

The decision by the L.A. firm to double its presence in Louisville is a coup for the city.

“The committee had a few meetings, but it was so much for us as a city to take on,” Poynter said. “Wimmer was always at the table. It’s good news for the city, because when it comes to bourbon, our philosophy is the more the merrier.”

In Wimmer Productions’ March 20 release announcing Bourbon & Beyond, it promised the festival will “blend the best elements of a bourbon festival, a food festival, and a music festival into an all-encompassing, unforgettable weekend.” It suggested that distilleries, restaurants, world-class musicians and craftsmen would participate.

Bourbon-and-Beyond-logowEatDrinkTalk obtained the company’s pitch to prospective sponsors, which included an impressive list of celebrity chefs (most from out of town), distilleries and performers. The latter included comedians Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari, along with musical acts The Black Keys, John Mayer and Hall & Oates. Highlighted are area distilleries and restaurants. Of course, it doesn’t guarantee those acts will come to Louisville. An announcement regarding the lineup of performers is expected in the next few weeks.

It’s quite an ambitious production, given there’s only a few months to prepare. However, Wimmer’s team had already planned to be here for Louder Than Life, and Poynter said the company has been involved in the Bourbon and Work Food Group for two years.

The Bourbon and Beyond web site, for now, consists of a single page, a letter from Wimmer to his “fellow bourbon-lovers.” In it, Wimmer pens a love letter to the city. It reads, in part:

I wanted to tell you that I have fallen in love with your city. I produce events all over the country, and what impressed and inspired me about Louisville is its chefs, restaurants, horses, outdoor life and, of course, bourbon.

It has become my personal mission to help others around the world discover what I discovered when I first came here: an authentic mix of Southern charm and cosmopolitan sophistication, wrapped in an unparalleled civic pride. It is Louisville’s uniqueness that leads me to today’s announcement.

Later, he compares the association of Louisville and bourbon to that of Napa and wine.

Poynter said the new event adds to the city’s efforts to be a year-round mecca for bourbon lovers, pointing to the Bourbon Classic in February, the Bourbon Affair in June and the opening of distilleries along Whiskey Row, including Angel’s Envy.

“We’re really building out a 365-day tourism experience with major festivals on top of that,” he said.

Wallace sells Café Lou Lou to Matthews, Diamonds ops partner

After 28 years in restaurants, Clay Wallace is headed for a new career. The owner of Café Lou Lou has sold the Cajun-Italian-Mediterranean eatery in St. Matthews to Jared Matthews, operating partner at Diamonds Pub & Billiards. Wallace, who earned a realtor’s license in 2016, is starting a new career buying, flipping and selling homes for Keller Williams.

“I’m sad, yet relieved about the whole thing,” said Wallace, who began his restaurant career at Café Metro, a longtime Highlands standard that closed a few years ago. He opened his first Café Lou Lou 13 years ago in Clifton at the Hilltop Tavern site. He added a second location in the Loop on Dundee Way, but closed it last year. “I’ve owned my own place a long time, and I’m ready for a change.”

Sale price for the restaurant will remain private, but Wallace said that after working to eliminate some debt tied to the restaurant, “selling it will make me whole, which is great. … That feeling is indescribable.”

A longtime Café Lou Lou regular, Matthews joked regularly with Wallace about wanting to buy the place, but Wallace never took him seriously until he got the urge to leave the business last year.

Wallace said the deal took 10 months to complete, and that the papers were signed March 20.

A Louisiana native, Matthews said Cajun food is in his blood, and that he’s long wanted to run a restaurant. He’ll also get to revive his passion for craft cocktail making, something he’s had to shelve while operating Diamonds.

“I’ve always liked Café Lou Lou, but as the owner, I want to tweak it a little and do things to get more people in there,” said Matthews, who also will continue as operating partner at both Diamonds locations. “Everything will remain the same at both Diamonds. This is just me stretching some to run a restaurant.”

To the menu, Matthews plans to add some Cajun dishes, some lighter food and gluten-free options. Oh, and those craft cocktails … you’ll see those, too.

“Drinks at Diamonds are more about volume, so I used to get into bartender competitions to have some fun,” he said. “But since we opened both (locations), I haven’t been able to do that stuff. I’ll get to do some of that” at Café Lou Lou.

J.K. McKnight Mixes Music with Bourbon; Goodwood Goodness with Joel Halblieb

Rick and Steve return from the road for this episode of the city’s finest restaurant and bar podcast. And while we could go on about our trips to Denver and Indianapolis, our first item of business is getting caught up on the news right here in River City. First, there’s an exciting announcement about efforts to create a new Louisville festival called Bourbon & Beyond. Steve credits Louder Than Life organizer Danny Wimmer for bypassing a passive city committee to get the new festival on the calendar.

We also report on some chef changes. Longtime Corbett’s chef Jeffrey Dailey has moved over to Harvest, now the home of what some say is the most talent in any city kitchen. Then there’s news that Allan Rosenberg is making a move back to pizza with the opening of Butchertown Pizza Hall in the old Hall’s Cafeteria space. Also in Butchertown, the operator of the Holy Mole’ food truck is adopting an 1860s-era building for a new pizza and pasta place to be called Lupo. Finally, we marvel at the marketing expertise of steakhouse proprietor Jeff Ruby, who got his restaurant mentioned in a national CBS basketball broadcast by promising free steak if Northern Kentucky University pulled off the impossible and upset over the University of Kentucky. It didn’t.

Our first guest is Forecastle Festival organizer J.K. McKnight, whose promotion of the Bourbon Lodge at July’s big event captured Steve’s interest. Rick welcomes Goodwood Brewery’s Joel Halblieb, who talks about the success of the two-year-old brand and the often-overlooked Taproom at Main and Clay.

EatDrinkTalk is brought to you each week by our friends at the Eye Care Institute, Harvest Restaurant and Copper & Kings. Thanks for joining us.


J.K. McKnight


Joel Halblieb