Friday, June 17, 2011

Springhurst Starbucks

How can a Starbucks go out of business? They're like pizza places; there's just no point of saturation for them. Granted, this wasn't my favorite Starbucks, and believe me, I know them all in this town - even the ones hidden inside hotels and Krogers and Targets. This one was rather computer-unfriendly, having only ONE electrical plug that all us rovin' ramblin' wi-fi rounders were constantly competing for. And on two separate occasions, I went in there to find that their wi-fi wasn't working, and when I told the counter help to reset their router, on both instances it was some giggling youth who said she had no idea what that was or where it was.

Since you asked (you did ask, right?), my favorite Starbucks in Louisville is the one on Blankenbaker, who hosted my solo art exhibition All History Does Unfold back in 2008.

Monday, June 13, 2011


The 1970s-style nightclub Vinnie's, along with all the other classic City Block tenants, is sorely missed.

Below: Vinnie's in the good old days, still visible on Google Maps Street View:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ray's Monkey House

Words can't express how glad I am to see this place gone. Ray's Monkey House was an ultra-left-wing coffee house that prided itself on being "child friendly". A coffee house that actually encourages parents to bring their toddlers just doesn't fly with me. And though there was a sign near the children's play area stating that kids were expected to behave properly, it was never enforced during the times I was there - it was a cacophonously noisy day-care-like setting.

You'd sit at dirty furniture and look at garishly painted walls that were plastered with lefty political screeds and pictures of Barack Obama, Hugo Chavez, and Cindy Sheehan. A malnourished-looking woman with tattoos on her face actually berated me angrily there for bringing a Starbucks travel mug into the place, and started babbling uninvitedly about "fair trade", corporate responsibility, blah blah blah, etc. Mind your own damn business, lady; this sort of preachy crap is exactly why I prefer Starbucks!

They had a blog that featured unappetizing things like Abu Ghraib photographs, exhortations to its readers to complain to Congress about Israel's presence in Gaza, and info on Vegan events like "The Great American Meatout". I always think of myself as a liberal until I go into hippie places like this, and then I realize that I want nothing to do with these sort of people.

Some may say I'm being way too hard on them. To be fair, I never went there at night when they had live music, which would probably have made a much more favorable impression on me. But the vibe I got from the place in the mornings was an offensive turn-off, and I just couldn't get past their goofy and disrespectful in-your-face politics.

(Before Ray's, this was one of my favorite bookstores, Twice Told Books. I keep hoping I'll wake up and find that it was all a bad dream and that Harold's Twice Told is still there.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


What was Pure, anyway? Last I noticed, this location at 2009 Highland Avenue was the Key Lime hair salon. Things move pretty fast in Lou-town.

Monday, May 30, 2011

House of Bleu

They've moved to 2208 Dundee, according to the sign.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Corbett-Frame Jewelers

This jewelry store has been my guidepost to alert me of the oncoming turn off Shelbyville Road onto Whipps Mill, for as long as I've lived in Louisville. (It's hard to miss that profoundly annoying Enviro Regular font they used for their sign; it's almost like an Art Deco version of Comic Sans MS.)

Their location was a bit bizarre - like the failed Drexel Heritage furniture outlet on Linn Station, this upscale jeweler was attempting to do business in a residential area that doesn't have much foot traffic.

Their Lexington location still exists, however, and has a much more sensible location - right in the lobby of downtown's Hilton hotel, 369 W. Vine St.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Genny's Diner

Although I rarely ate there, Genny's Diner was a Louisville tradition and I will miss it. Their deep-fried "frickled" pickles were a unique local item which you don't see every day.

Owner Frank Faris, after years of battling with the city over his property next door, has been put out of business. Part of it is his own fault: he steadfastly refused to make ordered upkeep improvements to the home, despite court orders to do so. But I think Faris got a raw deal in the end: when he announced his intention to bulldoze the house to make more parking spaces for his diner, a group of concerned citizens got together and colluded to hurriedly designate the dump a "historic home", specifically so he couldn't do what he wanted to with his own property.

And when he still refused to cooperate, a judge ordered him to sell the house. And when he couldn't find a buyer, the judge actually ordered him to give it away for free. Can a judge really do that? Well, this one did, and I didn't hear many people squawking about it.

The way the whole thing turned out for Faris leaves a very unsavory taste in my mouth. It's true that his own behavior is why it all ended in drama and Faris' arrest, but I nevertheless sympathize with Faris for trying to conduct himself as if he was still living in an era when people were allowed to do what they wanted to with their own personal property. Those days are gone, and with their passing we've all lost something bigger than fried pickles.

A gourmet ice cream place called the Comfy Cow is slated to take over the Genny's Diner location. Ironically, they're going to bulldoze it and start over with a new building of their own.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Red Pepper

So bummed to see this place go. Loved the food and the ambience. Everyone I ever knew who ate there adored the place, so what went wrong?

Before Red Pepper, it was Maharajah Indian restaurant, and before that, Shariott's.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Kiddle Kastle

Kiddie Kastle in St. Matthews is gone, but not for long: sign says they're expanding and moving to a nearby location in the same shopping center, near Off Broadway Shoes.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jones Bargain Center

When I first moved to Louisville this was one of the first places I frequented - Jones Bargain Center, a flea-marketty junk and furniture place in Clifton. Sad to see it boarded up and deserted.

Proof positive, if you really needed any, that I've got my finger on the pulse of the city (even if it may be a slightly bizarro alternate universe version of it): in Googling the place just now, I found that Broken Sidewalk put a piece up online TODAY about this very location, and how it's earmarked to be demolished for a gas station.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Stephens Drugs

Another classic old Louisville business goes bye-bye.

St. Matthews' beloved old-guy drugstore, Stephens Drugs on Shelbyville Road (previously Holdaway Drugs) has shut its doors forever and put up a sign sending all its former clientele to Wish's Drugs in Whipps Mill.

It's always puzzled me whether the establishment is meant to be called "Stephens" or "Stephen's" - the building itself lacks the apostrophe on their main sign and in many of their printed advertisements, yet they also have a smaller sign (visible in the top photo) that includes the apostrophe. Online listings almost universally disinclude the apostrophe.