Christmas is less than 72 hours away. Like most of you guys, I’m trying to fit in last-minute shopping, baking and a little bit of blogging, too. There’s no time for dilly-dally, so let’s dive into a few items to keep in mind as we wait for Santa to arrive.
I wrote a piece for WFPL about how to outsource your Christmas cooking. TL;DR – Order meals and desserts from your favorite bakeries and delis, make reservations or eat a little Chinese for Christmas dinner.
Big Momma’s Soul Kitchen on West Broadway offers a free meal for those in need on Christmas. Unfortunately, the restaurant needs donations and volunteers to keep this seven-year tradition alive, according to WAVE. Big Momma’s is in my book, Louisville Diners, and the restaurant is run by a great family with big hearts. Consider lending a hand or a couple of bucks for their Christmas dinner.
And speaking of my book, Louisville Diners, it would make a great stocking stuffer. Just sayin.
OK, this was a nice break. But onward with Christmas shenanigans.
Some sad news from a great local grocer: The Root Cellar will close at the end of the year unless new owners take over the business.
I’ve been a fan of The Root Cellar since it opened in Old Louisville in 2011. The small space was packed with local produce, meat and dairy products. At its peak, owner Ron Smith added a second location in Germantown in 2012 and even created a Kickstarter project to fund a mobile Root Cellar to bring produce to underserved areas in Louisville. Eventually, Ron closed the Old Louisville store and operated The Root Cellar out of the Germantown location.
On Saturday, Ron posted on The Root Cellar’s Facebook page that he will close the store at the end of the year if he can’t find someone to invest in the business. Here’s the post:
As many of you may already know, I have been trying to find some way to keep The Root Cellar around. I have discussed various ideas with some potential investors, but I have not fully committed to the process of selling the business. Well, now I have. I can no longer sustain the financial or physical burden of operating this store. I regret to have to tell you all, that I will be closing the store at the end of this year, unless a buyer or investor is found to take over the daily operation of the store. Any reasonable offer or investment scheme will be considered. I will be open regular hours through this winter and I look forward to serving each and every one of you. Thank you so much for your continued commitment to the store, the farmers and me. If you would like to meet to discuss purchasing the store, please email me at email@example.com.
This makes me all kinds of sad. Ron is a great guy who always had the community’s interests at heart. He wanted to make fresh, local produce available to everyone, no matter what neighborhood you live in. I loved shopping at The Root Cellar when I lived in Old Louisville. It was good to know exactly which farm my eggs came from, to have a variety of seasonal produce around which to plan a meal, and to chat with an owner who loved food and agriculture even more than I do.
I’m not at Oprah-level baller status (yet), but I’m sure there’s someone out there who would be interested in taking over The Root Cellar. Ron included his contact info in his Facebook post, so get in touch with him if you want to invest. I’d sure hate to see The Root Cellar go.
It’s fitting that a non-profit would open a kitchen incubator in the space that once held Jay’s Cafeteria. Jay’s, which was located in the Russell neighborhood of the West End, was a Louisville institution for decades, and the restaurant was a prime example of how small business can thrive and help bring attention to an often overlooked part of our city.
The non-profit organization Community Ventures will bring resources to new food-related businesses with Chef Space, a kitchen incubator that the group plans to build in the space that once belonged to Jay’s at 1812 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. The group announced the project this week. Let’s take a peek at the media release:
Chef Space … will provide commercial kitchen space and business support services for up to 50 food-related early stage businesses. The facility will also house a retail outlet and meeting spaces open to the community. Community Ventures is renovating the 13,000-square-foot site with a late October opening planned as the first phase of a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization project.
I’d never heard of a “kitchen incubator” before this announcement. According to the Chef Space website, the incubator will provide a shared, licensed commercial kitchen that early-stage catering, retail and wholesale food entrepreneurs can rent at affordable rates. Chef Space also plans to provide support services, advice and programs to help grow these businesses so they can ultimately move out of the incubator and fulfill the incubator’s goal:
We want to add to Louisville’s already vibrant local food scene by creating a community of like-minded entrepreneurs dedicated to producing top-notch products. We want to help you do better, what you do best.
Chef Space will accommodate as many as 50 food entrepreneurs at a time. Folks who are interested in participating in the program can apply here.
I’m excited to see a new venture take over the Jay’s Cafeteria. But I’m even more excited about what the budding businesspeople who participate in Chef Space will provide for the Russell neighborhood. This project can’t do anything but help the area and our entire city.
This is going to sound like poppycock, but I don’t care. I might not ever leave the East End of Louisville. The grocery stores on this end of town keep me in their orbit, and now my favorite is setting up shop.
My fellow East Enders need to check out my blog post about navigating Aldi for the first time. Your grocery budget will thank you for visiting a grocery store with inexpensive cooking staples and so much more.
This week’s latest beef: Iggy Azalea v. Papa John’s. In short, a Papa John’s driver got a little too excited to deliver a pizza to Iggy and shared her number. Then Iggs took to social media to complain, and now the driver has been reprimanded. Don’t mess with Australia, John. (The Hollywood Reporter)
There’s a new Mellow Mushroom in the Highlands (1023 Bardstown Road), and the pizza chain has really done a great job of incorporating their business into the community (just check out that Col. Sanders art piece in the slideshow). Hmmm, maybe Walmart could learn a thing or three. (Business First of Louisville)
The folks who brought us Eggs Over Frankfort will open Eggs Over Baxter this spring at Baxter Centre, 962 Baxter Ave. I featured Eggs Over Frankfort in my upcoming book (PLUG!), so I’m pretty excited about this addition. (Insider Louisville)
February marks the Comfy Cow’s Fifth Annual Chocopalooza to benefit local chapters of non-profit organizations. The ice cream shop has created a lineup of new chocolate flavors, and 10 percent of sales of the chocolate crop will go to Make-A-Wish, Gilda’s Club, Boys & Girls Haven and the Fund For The Arts. I have my eye on the Chocolate “Brownie Points” and the Chocolate “Chip Off the Old Block.” The Chocolate Lavender? Not so much. Check out all the flavor’s on Comfy Cow’s website. (The Comfy Cow website)
Louisville sports legend (is that the correct terminology?) Darrell Griffith has opened a restaurant called Griff’s, “an up-scale sports” eatery, according to a pretty sparse website. The restaurant is located on Cardinal Boulevard in the Cardinal Towne complex. (Business First of Louisville)
KT’s Restaurant and Bar on Lexington Road will become Le Moo by early June. Will there be some tasteful cow decor? (Business First of Louisville)
BBC Taproom at 636 E. Main St. will offer $1 pints in exchange for a new, unwrapped toy for the charity Toys for Tots. I can dig it. (Insider Louisville)
In the corporate world, this would be called “synergy.” In my world, it’s a plain good idea. Great Flood Brewing Company on Bardstown Road has teamed with Grind Burger Kitchen on the brewery’s 100th batch. The beer, called G&G Blowin’ Smoke, will compliment the food truck/restaurant’s B&B, a heavenly burger of brie, bacon and habenero jam. I’m old enough to be secure in my dislike of most beers. However, I’m willing to give this one a try with my next B&B. (Insider Louisville)
There might be a plant coming to the West End that will convert food waste to methane gas. This plant will be a part of the West Louisville Food Hub, “a 25-acre food distribution center being developed at 30th and Market streets.” (Business First of Louisville)
Feast BBQ, a restaurant located in New Albany, will open a Louisville location on East Market Street next Thursday, Dec. 18. This doesn’t help in my quest for reasons to visit southern Indiana. I’m a little weary of this communal dining concept, though (check out this slideshow). Everyone doesn’t need to see exactly how messy I am when I eat, especially barbecue. (Business First of Louisville)
I used to have an unreasonable dislike for Flay. I didn’t like how he rolled into town with his Food Network show, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, like he owned the joint and challenged chefs. Quit showing off, Flay. Then I met him in person when I was a reporter on the red carpet at the Barnstable Brown party. He was actually pretty nice, which completely squashed the rivalry I had built in my head.
So, I’m cool with Flay coming to Louisville. It’s just that there are a few other celebrity chefs and TV personalities that I would like to see make a restaurant home in Louisville. Come along with me as I play pretend with folks I’d like to see in our city:
I love me some Ree Drummond. The woman cooks, writes and takes beautiful pictures on her blog, The Pioneer Woman. Her approachable demeanor and hearty meals fit for life on the ranch make her a wonderful addition to the Food Network lineup. I’d welcome Ree’s downhome charm in a Louisville restaurant. Picture it: Ree greeting guests, her husband stopping in from the ranch with some kind of carcass he killed himself, and lots of wood paneling.
One of the loftier goals of my life is to become the black Ina Garten. My closet will be filled with crisp button-down shirts. I will pop collar of said shirts. And I will whip up meals that include lots of lemon zest for the wonderful moments when my Jeffrey pops in to see what I’m up to. I imagine that Ms. Garten’s restaurant could fill the shoes that La Coop in NuLu will leave. Ms. Garten would serve food of the French countryside in a candlelit dining room with citrus centerpieces. And she would never spill ratatouille on her fresh shirt.
Alton Brown is a great teacher on the show, Good Eats. You get a little history, a little science and a lot of fun in each episode. Why not show off his teaching skills with a lot of science in an open-concept kitchen? I see foam garnishes, dry ice and lots of sous vide.
What celebrity chef or food personality would you like to see open a restaurant in Louisville?
I don’t know if you know this about me, but I enjoy wine. Out of a bottle, box or jug, it’s my adult beverage of choice for an evening at home watching Murder, She Wrote. Fortunately, a new restaurant has opened on Bardstown Road that might get me out of the house in pursuit of wine and snacks.
LouVino opened in July at 1606 Bardstown Road in the former De La Torre/La Bodega space. The restaurant specializes in “small plates” and “big wine.” A few words from co-owner Lauren Coulter:
LouVino will have 40 wines by the glass, and an additional 40 by the bottle, along with an innovative “small plates” menu created by our executive chef, Tavis Rockwell.
The small plate menu looks like the real deal. Most of the small plates are $10 or less, which is right up my alley to go with a nice glass of vino. I have my eye on the smoked gouda Hot Brown mac and cheese ($9), the loaded baked potato tots ($8), and the fried chicken tacos ($9).
Kudos to these local eateries for looking past Ninth Street to operate new outposts. It makes my heart happy to see Louisville business owners taking a chance on an area that’s not Bardstown Road or Frankfort Avenue (no shade to these areas, just sayin’ that they already have a lot).
What Louisville restaurant do you think needs more local restaurants/coffee shops/eateries?