North End Cafe - Highlands. (Courtesy Tipster)
North End Cafe - Highlands. (Courtesy Tipster)
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Throughout the Great Recession, you have to hand it to Louisville’s small business entrepreneurs, especially the foodie scene, for keeping the city filled with great shops and restaurants. As 2011 comes to a close, we decided to take a look back at some of the openings and closings (and imminent openings) from neighborhoods across Louisville and the picture that takes shape vividly shows areas like the Highlands acting in the role of business incubator, to other areas like Nulu and New Albany emerging into their own. Downtown also saw quite a bit of new restaurant activity as well. To be sure, the majority of this new business is related to food and drink, and it seems the options are better than ever. The list is long, but it’s undoubtedly incomplete. Please feel free to add any other new businesses in the comments below.

It’s no wonder then that Southern Living magazine has shortlisted Louisville for the South’s tastiest town along with other culinary powers like New Orleans and Charleston. You can vote online daily (and win prizes) through the end of January to bring the title home. As of this writing, Louisville is in first place with a narrow lead over Lafayette, Louisiana.

Highlands
Perhaps the biggest business move in the Highlands is the dramatic closing of Ear X-tacy after moving from its old location down the street, now home to a Panera Bread. More big news followed with the announcement that Heine Brothers Coffee is merging with Vint Coffee. North End Cafe has a new location of the popular Clifton eatery that opened at 2116 Bardstown Road near the Douglass Loop in early December. While we lost the Zen Tea Garden on Frankfort Avenue, owner Coco Tranh opened up two new vegetarian food spots at 1216 Bardstown Road called Roots and Heart & Soy featuring house-made tofu. We also lost the Amazing Grace market, but a new internationally-focused grocery called Aladdin Market took its place. The Fish Fry House at 2280 Bardstown Road advertised “coming soon” in late October. Uncle Maddio’s Pizza opened in the long-vacant strip mall at Bardstown and Grinstead Drive. The Java Brewing Company opened this spring at 1707 Bardstown. Baby D’s Bagel & Deli opened at 2009 Highland Avenue. Cupcakes hit Louisville in a big way in 2011, among the purveyors, Jamie’s 14K Cupcakes opened at 938 Baxter Avenue in late August.The Holy Grale, by now a local staple at 1034 Bardstown Road, expanded with an upstairs Choir Loft and backyard Biergarten. That’s in addition to other new businesses in 2011 including Highland Morning, and a Dunkin Donuts planed in front of Mid City Mall.

Downtown
SaE Cafe, named for two friends Sarah and Emily, opened at 200 South Seventh Street between Market and Jefferson streets. Derby City Espresso owner Matt Landan recently said he’s switching up his business model, moving from coffee to bourbon. Stay tuned. Potbelly Sandwich Shop opened on Fourth Street between Jefferson and Liberty streets and Smashburger is taking a spot in the same building. On the same street, a new soup restaurant called Zoup will open at 319 South Fourth. Against the Grain brewery opened in the old Brownings space at Slugger Field on Main Street. The PBJ Shop, serving, of course, classic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, opened at 519 South Third Street. The BBC on the corner of Third and Main also expanded with a new Four Roses Loft. Downtown lost one of its biggest retailers, Borders books, but a new brewery and restaurant called Gordon Biersch is set to take its place. Plus, the Whiskey Row Lofts brought in several new establishments including Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar, The Troll Pub (including it’s signature 3d troll under the bridge), and Hillbilly Tea founder is planning a new French patisserie concept called Galettes. Cellar Door Chocolates expanded with a second store at the Galt House and Established boutique opened on Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

Nulu
Rye, the highly anticipated restaurant imminently set to open on the corner of East Market and Campbell streets has snagged chefs from New York and Chicago while another new restaurant called Decca will bring in the taste of San Francisco. A new home furnishings store called Revolver opened at 707 East Market Street in August. The Mayan Cafe started serving “Latin-ish” cocktails after receiving a liquor license in December. 732 Social, one of the first Nulu hot spots, closed in late September, but a new French cafe from the creators of Doc Crow’s called Bistro Voliere is poised to take its placeTaste Fine Wines & Spirits moved from Frankfort Avenue to 634 East Market Street. Gift boutique Peace on Earth opened at 801 East MarketToast on Market moved west to 620 East Market Street making room for the nearly complete Taco Punk to take its old space at 736 East Market. Plus, a slew of other amazing eateries opened including Harvest, Please & Thank YouGarage Bar, and Ghyslain. More galleries also opened up like Clair Raabe Studio, Gifthorse, and Salvo. Then in nearby Butchertown, Meat opened above the Blind Pig and has already become one of Louisville’s trendiest spots.

Germantown
Four Pegs Beer Lounge opened at 1053 Goss Avenue at the site of the old Germantown Cafe. Heine Brothers Coffee opened up an outpost in a new strip mall on Eastern Parkway. The popular Zeppelin Cafe closed.

New Albany
Quills Coffee opened a second location in downtown New Albany at 137 East Market Street in early December. Preston Arts Supply shuttered its downtown location over the summer. Billow Cigar Shop & Smoking Lounge opened up next to Quills on East Market Street. Bank Fusion Cuisine & Lounge opened in late November in a classic Doric temple. Colokial boutique opened 138 East Spring Street. A new French bistro called Louis Le Francais that was once proposed for St. Mattews has also opened.

Old Louisville
The Root Cellar, a local grocery market, opened at the corner of Third and Hill streets. A new coffee shop called Smokey’s Bean opened at 1451 South First Street. Closer to U of L, the Cardinal Towne project opened, bringing with it a slew of new businesses including Quills Coffee, Papalino’s Pizza, The Comfy Cow, Qdoba, and more. More on that in an upcoming article.

St. Matthews
It seems the entire city celebrated the opening of Trader Joe‘s in the Shelbyville Road Plaza strip mall. Dutch’s Tavern in St. Matthews has closed its doors after 80 years. While never hip or glamorous, it was a mainstay of the burgeoning St. Matthews strip. Also this spring, Coals Artisan Pizza opened at 3724 Frankfort Avenue and Drakes took a spot in front of Burdorf’s furniture.

Clifton
The Silver Dollar Saloon opened in an old fire station dating to the 1870s at 1761 Frankfort Avenue. On the same intersection, a bar called the Recovery Room also opened. The neighborhood got a whole lot sweeter with the addition of both the Homemade Pie & Ice Cream Kitchen at the site of the old Longshots Tavern that went out of business and the Comfy Cow across the street, which demolished the old Genny’s Diner and saved the neighboring Victorian House.

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Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

5 COMMENTS

  1. Louisville has fallen behind in Southern Living Contest! Get out there and vote y’all!

  2. The old louisville coffee shop, on 4th and hill, closed and has been replaced by a slightly different version of the yafa cafe located on 4th downtown at the theatre square area just north of Broadway.

  3. Majid Ghavami–often called Louisville’s favorite host, former owner of Saffron’s Persian cafe downtown–has been operating at Majid’s St. Matthews in Chenoweth Sqaure since the beginning of 2011.

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