More openings–Little Chef gets new life, Benthua is transformed, J’ville gets Comfy Cow

The churn in the restaurant scene continues apace. An old favorite in New Albany, the retro-cute Little Chef has new owners; a new favorite, Benthua Tea House and Small Bites has undergone a transformation; and  local favorite Comfy Cow continues to expand.

The tiny, 10-seat red-and-white diner in downtown New Albany that previously housed various incarnations of Little Chef at 147 E. Market St. since 1957 is about to become Coqui’s Cafe. The space has been empty for a few years, but now Stephanie and Elvin Torres are opening a little cafe where they plan to serve Southern favorites infused with a Latin flair. A GoFundMe campaign has helped fund some updating the diner’s appliances.

Bentuhau Tea House & Small Eats quickly built a fan base after it opened last fall, but the logistics of the space did not work for the long run.  Owner Veronica Chang has now redecorated and re-imagined the space at 2520 Frankfort Ave. as Merlin’s Cupboard, a sandwich and tea room with a mystical theme.

The dining area has the look and feel of a cozy tea room. Diners order at the counter choosing either signature sandwiches and sides written on chalkboards or build their own sandwich from a list of options, including familiar garnishes like lettuce and olives, as well as more unusual choices such as Sriracha aioli, tzatziki sauce, chimichurri and green apples.

A limited breakfast menu, including signature teas and options like bagels and “smears” from cream cheese to Asiago are available in the mornings. In addition, Merlin’s will host events ranging from special-effects makeup classes to “intuitive readings.” On Saturday, June 14, you can check out a “pop-up” event with Bombay to Bali Boutique.

The second Comfy Cow in Southern Indiana has opened at 1450 Veterans Pkwy. in Jeffersonville. There is an outdoor patio, sure to be popular as the weather warms.

But the large, 2500 square-foot shop also has a party room, available for use by community groups. Comfy Cow is in its sixth year, and the Jeffersonville addition makes the sixth shop in the area. The company has plans to open stores in Tennessee, and to expand distribution of their retail packaged premium ice cream as well.

May 30 marks a decade of Fest of Ales

Keg Liquors Fest of Ale surely has to be one of the more enjoyable fund-raisers associated with the Crusade for Children, marking its tenth year Saturday, May 30, 5-7 p.m. at St. Anthony’s of Padua, 320 North Sherwood Ave. in Clarksville, Ind.

All 1500 available tickets usually sell out, showing an enthusiastic following in Southern Indiana for the Crusade and for the support of craft beer in Indiana.  More than 100 craft beers will be available for sampling, and the Men’s Group of St. Anthony’s will provide food, with their proceeds going to support scholarships for local students. Continue reading May 30 marks a decade of Fest of Ales

Celebrate Memorial Day weekend with Rumpfest

A summer of music, beer and food festivals starts Sunday, May 24 with the RumpFest coming to the Highlands. Highland Avenue from the alley to Baxter Ave. will close at 10 a.m. for setup and RumpFest will be open to the public by 1 or 2 p.m., thanks to Griffin Paulin, Executive Chef and co-owner of Rumplings, and James Morris, of the nearby apparel store Sole Foundation. Continue reading Celebrate Memorial Day weekend with Rumpfest

What’s going on in Louisville Restaurant Scene? Here’s our Quarterly ‘Openings & Closings’ recap.

[Originally published in F&D Summer 15 issue]

It has been a vibrant and verdant spring around the area, and a fertile season for restaurants as well. This past quarter saw the emergence of 29 new restaurants, and the closing of only 16, almost twice as many openings as closings. For the restaurants biz, that certainly is a good start to the year.

Last issue we reported on the opening of several new high-end restaurants–Ward 426, 8UP, Mesh. Of the two dozen plus new businesses we have to list here only Continue reading What’s going on in Louisville Restaurant Scene? Here’s our Quarterly ‘Openings & Closings’ recap.

Decca ‘Beats & Eats’ series kicks off with Southeast Asian bites and music

The Cellar Lounge at Decca (812 E. Market Street) is the place to be May 21 when the restaurant launches its Beats & Eats series. Beats & Eats nights are pop-up events featuring chef Annie Pettry’s interpretations of international street foods combined with music from that part of the world.

Continue reading Decca ‘Beats & Eats’ series kicks off with Southeast Asian bites and music

Bourbon fantasy camp–adults only.

The second annual Kentucky Bourbon Affair–dubbed a fantasy camp for bourbon lovers–will be held Wednesday through Sunday, June 3-7, and will include a huge roster of events, from barrel selections at distilleries to a day of fishing with Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe at his father’s favorite fishing hole (which includes a fish fry), to bourbon cooking classes to concerts and crab boils.

Nine distilleries–Bulleit, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Michter’s, Town Branch, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve–will participate in the event, opening their production facilities to tours, classes and other events. Continue reading Bourbon fantasy camp–adults only.

Ed Lee’s “Mind of a Chef” nominated for Emmy, and a summer TV special in the works

Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia and Milkwood is having a memorable year after stepping into the TV world. The PBS series “Mind of a Chef” season three, which featured Lee and Sweden’s Magnus Nilsson, received five nominations for the 42nd Annual Daytime Emmy Entertainment Awards. The show was recognized in the Outstanding Culinary Program and Outstanding Culinary Host categories, and in three technical categories.

Although Ina Garten won the program award, Mind of a Chef won for all thre technical categories: Outstanding Main Title and Graphic Design,Outstanding Single Camera Photography, and Outstanding Single Camera Editing. Continue reading Ed Lee’s “Mind of a Chef” nominated for Emmy, and a summer TV special in the works

Summer music in NuLu with Rye’s Back Porch Sessions

Rye on Market, 900 E. Market St., will add to the fun in NuLu this summer with its new season of Back Porch Sessions, on the third Thursday of the month. The free events, which are in partnership with, take place in the patio and parking area of the restaurant, beginning at 7 p.m. Continue reading Summer music in NuLu with Rye’s Back Porch Sessions

It’s official: The old Tumbleweed will open as a Mexican restaurant

Signing a lease makes it official in the minds of lawyers. Only when the first burrito is served will it be official in the minds of local diners, but all is set for the Falls City Hospitality Group, the guys behind Doc Crow’s and Union Common in Nashville, are all set to reopen the River Road riverfront location that until recently was a Tumbleweed. Continue reading It’s official: The old Tumbleweed will open as a Mexican restaurant