The Spirit of Harrods Creek

The legacy of The Pine Room lives on with new ownership and modern decor

 

By Elizabeth Scinta
Photos provided by The Pine Room

 

Legacy is something that can have infinite power if you give it the chance but can also be daunting and a bit of a challenge. For Augusta Brown Holland, the developer and urban planner of the newly revived Pine Room, when presented with the challenge of revitalizing an old Harrods Creek gem, she gladly accepted the challenge. 

Although the original Pine Room was destroyed in a fire in 1977, the restaurant’s legacy has floated through Louisville as only a memory until Holland stepped onto the scene. “The original establishment wasn’t a part of my generation, but as far as I can tell, it was a serious gathering spot for a prior generation [before it burned down]. When you mention it to people, they came from far and wide to enjoy the original Pine room. It felt like this iconic place that many people had fond memories of,” Holland explained. Holland and Steven Ton, The Pine Room’s general manager, described the original Pine Room as a place for the residents of Harrods Creek to gather, enjoy live piano music and lounge in the bar on the red velvet upholstery that filled its interior. 

“It’s a sense of nostalgia. Augusta’s Dad used to go to the original Pine Room when he was younger. I’ve heard a million stories about the original place and how much people loved it,” said Ton. “Our vision was not to copy the original concept but to bring back a sense of nostalgia and create our own version of it. It’s worked out well and people have really embraced it. I was fearful that people would compare the new concept to the original and complain that it’s nothing like it, but that’s not the case. People think it’s so cool that we revived something that people [of the past] really enjoyed.”

The new Pine Room is two doors down from where the original stood in Harrods Creek. “I am still, and was very, excited about Harrods Creek in particular. It feels like it’s such a unique little pocket of our city. It’s tiny in geography but has an old history. So the fact that there was this iconic Pine Room that people talked about and were willing to drive to, was neat. It was a real gathering spot and I love the idea and spirit of that, and so when we were thinking about opening a restaurant, it felt like an appropriate thing to try and bring back the spirit of,” explained Ton.

The Pine Room reopened its doors in 2019 with some similarities to the original space and many differences. Holland wanted to keep the neighborhood-type restaurant feel but strayed away from the dark, red velvet interior of the original. The new Pine Room is bright, happy and “upscale casual” as Ton referred to it. “It’s upscale in terms of the execution of the food and the service, but it’s done in a way that is not intimidating and is casual at the same time. When you’re inside, it’s very welcoming. We made it nice, but not fancy. We didn’t want to exclude anyone. We wanted to make sure families could come eat, or a date night could happen or grandma and grandpa could come,” Ton explained. The Pine Room features a piano player six nights a week with three different musicians rotating through. Having live piano music is a nod to the original Pine Room whose piano player, Mabel, was an icon, so much so they named a drink after her. It’s a rendition of a traditional Old Fashioned and is Holland’s favorite cocktail on the menu. “We have a lot of nods to the past, but at the same time, we have a vision too,” Ton said. “We have a mural on the side of the restaurant that says ‘quality food and cocktails.’ It’s like back in the day when restaurants and bars used to advertise on the side of the building. When you walk inside, you feel transported and this is not just me saying this, guests have said this multiple times. They feel like they aren’t in Louisville and are out of town. It has that vibe inside. The way I like to describe it is, when you go on vacation and you go to that one restaurant that everyone goes to, it feels like that restaurant. There’s a sense of place here, being in Harrods Creek gives it that ‘it’ factor.”

The Pine Room also has a covered porch for outdoor seating and picnic tables with umbrellas on the front lawn. Not sure what to order? Try Holland’s favorites, the mushroom tacos, nachos or french fries. Ton prefers the fried chicken, the burger or the Caesar salad. The menus are seasonal, with a new menu released in the fall and the spring. Ton assured me that fan favorites, like the fried chicken, aren’t leaving the menu when changes are made, but the vegetables or other accompanying sides could change depending on what’s in season. The Pine Room’s Executive Chef, Joe Flesia, is the mastermind behind all of these wonderful creations. “He has been a critical member of The Pine Room team for a long time now and we love him. I especially love when we are all crafting a new menu together. He is so creative and his culinary flair always leaves diners happy and excited to return to The Pine Room,” Holland explained.

Holland wants to help restore Harrods Creek to its former glory and she’s hoping that The Pine Room will help achieve that goal. “We’re not that far from town. In Louisville, everyone is used to everything being so close by which is one of the great things about our city. We’re really only 15 minutes from any one neighborhood so give us a try; we’re not that far away. Hopefully, it’s welcoming and has fun energy when you come.”

The Pine Room’s dining room is open, and they’re offering curbside orders as well on toasttab.com/pine-room.

The Pine Room
6325 River Road
Harrods Creek, KY 40027
thepineroomky.com
502.528.4422

Note from the Publisher

Photo by Andrea Hutchinson.

Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s champagne!”
-Winston Churchill
 

Throughout its history, champagne has been a celebratory drink that made appearances at the coronations of kings, queens and the launching of ships. Champagne is associated with luxury, celebration and real estate. Whether you are purchasing your first home or moving onto something new, the sound of a bottle of champagne opening is always in order. In this issue, we spoke to several local real estate gurus to get the inside scoop on today’s real estate market and how they got involved in the industry. Buying and/or selling a home can be very emotional,  and whether you are leaving a home you have lived in for years, renovating or house hunting, don’t forget that when one door closes another opens. 

Champagne is my libation of choice. Although I definitely enjoy a good ol’ Kentucky bourbon now and then, the effervescence of champagne gets me every time. Maybe I’m unique in the fact that, in my opinion, champagne pairs with just about everything. From haute cuisine to potato chips, you can’t go wrong. Here’s a champagne fun fact about how the first-ever champagne spray began. In 1967, A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney decided to have a little fun to celebrate their win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a famous sports car race held annually near the town of Le Mans, France, known simply as “Le Mans.” Gurney shook a bottle of champagne and sprayed the crowd that included Henry Ford ll and his new bride. 

From then on, a new tradition was born. Motorsports’ first champagne spray commemorated the first two Americans to win the world’s best-known automobile race. Speaking of champagne sprays, polo matches also share this tradition. The winning team is typically sprayed with champagne after they are officially announced the winners; now that’s a terrific tradition. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to find a bottle of champagne, pop the cork, kick back for a while and enjoy the beautiful springtime that is upon us. 

Thank you to our loyal and supportive advertisers and readers. Without you, we could not do what we do so well by continuing to create our community’s iconic publication, The Voice. 

Cheers,

Janice Carter Levitch Humphrey
Publisher

Four Roses Rose Julep Cocktail Competition

Photos by Kathryn Harrington

 

Four Roses Bourbon partnered with the Kentucky Derby Festival for the 18th Annual Rose Julep Cocktail Competition on April 6 at the BBC Four Roses Bourbon Barrel Loft. Six regional bartenders from Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky competed for top honors and a panel of expert judges and the public chose the Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice winning juleps, respectively.

Derby Primp & Prep

Photos by Andrea Hutchinson

 

The Norton Commons community hosted the annual “Derby Primp & Prep” event on April 15 where 14 businesses offered specials on everything from mint juleps to discounted Derby apparel, along with giveaways and other promotions.

Glasscock Too Trunk Show

Photos by Kathryn Harrington

 

Glasscock Too hosted shoppers looking for Derby-ready looks on April 9 with trunk shows from clothing designer Allison New York, jewelry designer Maggie Made Designs and Vintage Luxe Up that featured pillows, necklaces, masks and more made from vintage designer scarves. 

Cartwheels Trunk Show

Photos by Kathryn Harrington

 

Cartwheels Papers & Gifts welcomed artist Liesl Long Chaintreuil for a Trunk Show on April 7 for shoppers in Chenoweth Square.

Parisian Persuasion

The story of the Bittners Champagne Room

 

By Elizabeth Scinta
Photos by Andrea Hutchinson

 

After trips to Paris Fashion Week in his younger years, Douglas Riddle, the president and COO of Bittners, fell in love with the magic of Paris and the bubbly, deliciousness of champagne. He knew this was an experience he needed to recreate in his hometown of Louisville, KY and thus The Champagne Room at Bittners was born. It is a place of celebration and to remind you that all occasions are worth raising a glass of champagne to. To learn more about his inspiration for this special room and his love of bubbly, we asked Riddle to share the details of this story with us. 

What was your inspiration behind the Champagne Room at Bittners?

When I was in the fashion business, I always attended the Paris and Milan shows during fashion week and traveled with my boss at the time, Beverly Rice. She took me under her wing and we stayed at this hotel, the Castille Paris, which was on Avenue Rue Cambon and is behind the Ritz Carlton. There’s a little alleyway from our hotel that you could cut through to get to the Ritz and in the back of the hotel was a bar called Bar Hemingway. It was named after Ernest Hemingway and, back in the day, Coco Chanel would leave her boutique on Rue Cambon and sneak into the Ritz to have drinks with Hemmingway. There’s a whole history behind those two. Mrs. Rice thought we should celebrate the beauty of Paris and our successful trip each time – we went three times a year – by having a glass of champagne at Bar Hemingway. The experience took place in my 20s and I loved the idea of it. She was a wonderful person and believed that it’s important to celebrate the things we accomplish. From that, I developed an appreciation for champagne, and not just the fact that I loved the taste of it, but also the story and romanticism behind it.

Black and white photo of Douglas Riddle by J. Edward Brown, inspired by Yves Saint Laurent.

Do you have a favorite place to enjoy champagne other than at Bittners?

I really don’t, I can drink champagne anywhere. It’s my go-to if I’m out and about for dinner, I like to have a glass of champagne first. I’m not a big drinker so sometimes that’s as far as it goes with me, but I’d prefer to have champagne over most things.

We use our space at Bittners, though, for so many things so we can continue this tradition of celebration. We designed all these beautiful spaces for our clients but I thought we never really had a beautiful space of our own where the employees could celebrate. We have a lunchroom but it’s the farthest thing from attractive. The Bittners Champagne Room has developed into somewhere we’ve hosted clients’ birthday parties, employee anniversaries and baby showers. Once we all get vaccinated and get the approval from the CDC, then we’ll probably have a little champagne toast that we’ve all been fortunate enough to survive COVID-19 and celebrate the future. We try to use it and not just let it sit there. It’s worked well for business too. Some of our clients have seen it and loved it, so we try to give them a touch of it in their properties.

What’s the atmosphere of the Bittners Champagne Room?

I think it has a soft and comfortable side to it. We did all these iconic black and white photographs from legendary photographers, like Helmut Newton and Richard Avedon. We have some really eccentric ones, like the family up on top of the pyramid having a picnic, and the artist that’s painting a horse and, instead of going out to the horse, they brought the horse into his house. 

The eccentric side of the photographs made me think of all the people at Bittners because we have such a diverse group. My craftsman and cabinet makers think differently than the designers, and the designers from the project managers. Sometimes, when you meet with each of the divisions as I do, you can see the diversity and how eclectic the Bittners team can be. The photographs make me think of all of us.

Black and white photo of Douglas Riddle by J. Edward Brown, inspired by Yves Saint Laurent.

Champagne: celebratory or any time?

It’s certainly an anytime drink for me! I would hate to have to wait for a celebration for the next time I have a glass of champagne. I think once you get used to it, especially when it’s the right temperature and it’s cold on a summer day, there’s nothing better.

What is your favorite kind of champagne or champagne cocktail?

I really don’t do champagne cocktails because I like the taste of champagne. There’s a Veuve Clicquot and a Moët Chandon that I do sometimes. There’s this one by Nicholas Feuillatte that’s good and not really expensive. For mimosas, I usually use Korbel Champagne or prosecco. I’m not one to pay a lot of money for a bottle of champagne, so I’ve found the ones that work and aren’t very expensive.

What do you recommend for someone else wanting to recreate their own champagne room?

I would recommend that you make sure you pay attention to the comfort and the seating. Before you know it, when you get in there with a friend, you end up being there longer than you think. We thought we would have this little champagne room and we’d do a toast and then we’d all work our way out and use different parts of the showroom but that’s really not the case. You end up staying there because it’s so cozy. We utilize the lighting well and there’s an aged mirror that reflects people so you feel like there are more people in there than there really are. Make sure that it’s comfortable, but also sexy, because I think that’s sort of what champagne does.

Bittners
731 E Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202
bittners.com
502.584.6349

The History of Horseracing

The Kentucky Derby Museum expands the Black Heritage in Racing exhibit

 

By Laura Ross
Photos by Kathryn Harrington and provided by the Kentucky Derby Museum

 

“Isaac Murphy is considered one of the greatest jockeys of all time,” said Rachel Collier, director of communications for the Kentucky Derby Museum. “He won 44 percent of his races, which is amazing when you consider today’s jockeys average 20 percent of their races won.”

Born an enslaved person, Murphy won three Kentucky Derby races and was known for being honest. He never accepted a bribe to lose a race and raced his heart out and won with integrity.  His story, and that of countless other early Black jockeys, trainers, grooms and horsemen might have been lost to history, but the Kentucky Derby Museum is bringing their faces and stories to light in a prominent new permanent exhibition launched March 29, called “Black Heritage in Racing.” 

The Museum has dedicated space and programming to the importance of Black jockeys and horsemen in an area of the Museum since 1993. But, Collier says, it was time for something grander. “Sponsors stepped up and we wanted to give these stories a place and time to shine,” she said. “The Kentucky Derby started with Black jockeys. In 1875, Aristides’ trainer and jockey were both Black. There are so many stories. It’s sad and unfortunate they were pushed out of the sport during the Jim Crow era with that history. That’s why these stories need to be told so they get the recognition they deserve.”

The expanded exhibition documents the stories and contributions of Black horsemen in the sport of Thoroughbred racing. With support from Churchill Downs and the James Graham Brown Foundation, the “Black Heritage in Racing” exhibit has moved from the second floor to a larger and more prominent location on the first floor of the Museum. 

The new exhibition is just under 930 square feet, which is more than 20 times larger than the previous exhibit space. This increased footprint allows the Museum to display more of its collection of artifacts pertaining to Black history in the sport and adds new components such as oral history interviews and artwork. 

“We’re excited to invite the public to see this beautiful exhibit. It is really striking, with a bold red theme throughout and larger-than-life images of these horsemen,” said Patrick Armstrong, President and CEO of the Kentucky Derby Museum.

“Our designers wanted the Black horsemen to stand out,” added Collier. “There aren’t many photos from the time, but the images we have are incredible. Our team made them larger than life and put them on the walls. When you see it, it draws you in.”  

According to Collier, the first Kentucky Derby in 1875 had 15 jockeys, 13 of whom were Black. Over the next 28 years, the majority of Kentucky Derby races were won by Black jockeys. Collier says many guests to the Museum are surprised to learn that history. 

In addition to Isaac Murphy’s story, guests can explore the stories of history-makers like Oliver Lewis, the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby aboard Aristides in 1875. The story of Ansel Williamson, the trainer of Aristides, is also featured. Many more stories are shared, including names from the modern era, like hip-hop star MC Hammer, who had a 3rd place finisher in the 1992 Kentucky Derby and won the Kentucky Oaks in 1991 with Lite Light. 

Additionally, guests learn about Greg Harbut and Ray Daniels, the owners of Necker Island, a horse who raced in Kentucky Derby 146. Harbut’s great-grandfather was the groom to the legendary horse Man o’ War. 

The Isaac Murphy Award, sponsored by the NAACP, recognized special achievement in the Thoroughbred industry, especially for work being done in Louisville and the surrounding community. Noted Louisvillian and sculptor Ed Hamilton designed and created the piece.

“It’s cool to see the family connections over the generations,” said Collier. “Greg Harbut’s great-grandfather is mentioned in the exhibition, and now here he is, as a contemporary Black horse owner, with his family’s oral history featured in the exhibit. It’s neat to see the family tradition and continuity and we were thrilled to have the Harbut family here for the grand opening of the newly expanded exhibit.” 

The “Black Heritage in Racing” exhibition at the Museum has several layers, including the expanded exhibit, a new tour that launched in December and “Proud of My Calling,” a monthly, 60-minute live acting performance that brings the stories of Black horsemen to life. A “Black Heritage in Racing” traveling exhibit will be created over the next several months to travel to museums, community centers, visitor centers and churches. Additionally, the Museum teaches thousands of students each year through two programs focusing on “Black Heritage in Racing” during field trips, in-school teaching and virtual learning. 

“It is very accessible to everyone, so we can all learn this important history,” said Collier. “We have always told these stories at the Museum, but it’s important to share that with the community as much as we can.”

“It was our team’s intent when designing this exhibit to give these individuals their time to shine,” added Armstrong. “It is our hope that when exploring this exhibit, people will walk away with a greater appreciation of the Black Heritage that is woven through horse racing. It is a distinct honor for us to be the keepers and tellers of their stories for years to come.”

A valet attending to a horse and jockey on the track, 1905.

Kentucky Derby Museum
704 Central Ave
Louisville, KY 40208
derbymuseum.com
502.637.1111

Letter from the Editor

Photos by Andrea Hutchinson.

Welcome to the May Real Estate and Champagne Issue. Before I begin, I’d like to invite you to take a seat, open a bottle of bubbly and get ready for the celebration to begin! In this issue, you’ll find the history of two of the most prestigious Champagne Houses: Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon. Did you know that Veuve was created by a woman in 1810? Or that Moët & Chandon was the royal court’s official drink in France in 1748? Joe Daily discusses some of his favorite champagne and champagne cocktails in the third installment of Daily Libations, photographed at Nouvelle Bar & Bottle. We also got an inside look at the Paris-inspired champagne room at Bittners and spoke to the Designer and President & COO, Douglas Riddle, who shared stories of his trips to Paris that inspired this special room. If you’re new to champagne, check out The Champagnery’s Guide to Champagne to learn some of the bar owners’ favorites and what to know when selecting a bottle or glass of bubbly. If bourbon is more your style, we got to know the American Whiskey Advisor for Beam Suntory, Beth Burrows, a bit better after introductions in last month’s issue. 

Real estate and champagne go hand-in-hand as it’s always a celebration when a new home is purchased or sold. So we spoke to some of the best real estate professionals in the biz to learn what we need to know if we’re in the market today. Bittners also shared a gorgeous newly renovated modern home in Cherokee Park to provide some inspo if you’re staying put in your current digs, but want to mix things up. 

Speaking of mixing things up, The Pine Room filled us in on the history of the original bar and restaurant and what guests can expect today – spoiler alert, the red velvet is long gone, but the live piano music is here to stay. 

If the outdoor features of homes are more of interest to you, the Kilgore Garden Tour shared how they’re helping those in need while also showcasing some of Louisville’s most beautiful home gardens. Our usual resident green thumb, Steve Humphrey, explains in his column some of the history of geometry as it relates to ancient and modern-day real estate. Bekki Jo Pritchard of Baptist Health/Milestone Wellness Center shares how she found her home away from home at Milestone and you can too! 

Last, but certainly not least, this issue features an in-depth look at the Speed Art Museum’s new exhibition, “Promise, Witness, Remembrance” that honors the legacy of Breonna Taylor and the Kentucky Derby Museum’s expanded exhibit, “Black Heritage in Racing.” With horseracing and the Derby still front-of-mind, we have a plethora of photos from Derby-related events you’ll find in the back of the book that I know you’re all itching to see if you’re in (wink, wink). Now let’s get this party started!

Sincerely yours,

Liz Bingham
Editor in Chief

Open to Modernity

Bittners takes a modern design approach to a Cherokee Park home

 

By Elizabeth Scinta
Photos by Kathryn Harrington

 

Modern designed homes are not common in most Louisville neighborhoods, however, a Cherokee Park homeowner felt it was time to say goodbye to her traditional home and embrace a more modern style. “We had a small, traditional Tudor for 20 years and I wanted less stuff and more style,” the homeowner shared. Thanks to the interior design talents of Bittners designer Ron Wolz, the homeowner’s dream of modernizing her home became a reality. “I saw some more modern trends in magazines and as soon as I mentioned it to Ron he thought it was great and had more ideas to help. It’s a newer look that I think is here to stay, with darker cabinets and lighter floors, which goes against current trends but I think Ron helped us be ahead of that and we’ll see more things going this way,” said the homeowner.

With help from Keith Morley of Don Johnson Contractors, Ron Wolz gave the homeowner’s Cherokee Park gem a complete makeover. The house was “taken down to the studs,” as both Wolz and the homeowner referred to it, and everything from the layout to the rooms to each design was evaluated and redone. First and foremost, let’s discuss what makes a home modern. Wolz said, “I think it’s more about creating a lifestyle and the way people live. To me, I think figuring out that part of the equation is what makes it modern. For example, this house was not very open originally, so we opened every room that we could to connect it and create flow. I think that’s how people want to live today and that makes it modern. Additionally, having cleaner lines, whether it be in the cabinetry or trim work or furnishings, that feels modern to me.”

Before we get to the interior designs, it’s important to note the open floor plan they created in the home, another key to a modern feel. “They didn’t want a bunch of compartmentalized rooms but a space that opened one room to the next, where if you were entertaining or with your family, you could easily be connected to them from different places in the house,” Wolz explained. “For example, the living room connects to the hearth room, the hearth room to the kitchen, the kitchen to the lounge and the lounge to the outdoor porch and all of those spaces are open to each other so it’s really wonderful. You could have thirty people or four and it still works very well.” The homeowner loves the open layout and particularly the hearth room and the kitchen. She said the kitchen was where they always hung out in her old home, but it got too congested. Now, with the open floor plan, she doesn’t have to worry about how many people are in one room because they can float from room to room. “The kitchen is inspired by a Palm Springs 1950’s look. I still wanted it to be updated and modern and I think we did a really good job of that,” said Wolz. “The sitting room off of the kitchen is my favorite space too. She took a risk and went with this gold silky velvet on the sofa. It’s luxurious and it gives this pop of color against neutral backgrounds. We considered doing the sectional in a more neutral color and I said ‘let’s be bold and do something strong,’ and we both ended up loving it.”

Another unique design element of the home is the large circular mirrors in the bathroom. “We sourced those out of New York. We had a lot of straight lines [in the design already] and we wanted something to soften it. I thought the curve of the mirror playing against the clean lines would be something to make it a little bit more romantic, a little more feminine,” Wolz explained. 

One of the most special spaces in the home is the outside porch. Wolz created a space that takes the indoors outdoors as the porch encompasses a living room, kitchen and dining room all in one and a beautiful view of Cherokee Park. “The goal was to create a room that brought you from the inside out. It’s pretty seamless, you just open the steel doors and walk right out of the lounge into the space. One of the elements I really liked was done by Lance Limanti of Classic Finishes. He did this beautiful charcoal grey, plaster finish on the fireplace and the surrounding area. It feels original and creates an anchor for the sitting area,” explained Wolz. Going modern doesn’t have to mean getting rid of the old completely. Wolz also helped the homeowner incorporate family heirlooms to fit the feel of the contemporary home during the design process. “He’s so great about using pieces that are personal to me and have been in my family, like our dining room table that has been in our family for several decades. He helped me bring some of my more traditional pieces into a modern vision,” the homeowner said. 

It took eight months for Wolz and his team to transform this Highlands home into a modern masterpiece. “Bittners is so professional and full-service with everything, from design to delivery. I think some other designers try to cut corners and don’t give you the full experience or ability to try different things,” the homeowner explained. “They’re wonderful about bringing furniture into your home and letting you try it for a couple of weeks. If it doesn’t work, they’ll take it out and bring something new in which is such a relief. You don’t have to go searching to find it yourself. Seeing something in person and trusting Bittners to take care of your home while having access to some of the best quality furniture that can’t be found anywhere else is one of the best parts. You can’t find the things that Bittners have anywhere else.”

Bittners
731 East Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
bittners.com
502.584.6349

Classic Finishes
8503 Charing Cross Road
Louisville, Kentucky 40217
classicfinishes.com
502.509.1620

Don Johnson Contractors
Keith Morley
502.724.0065
jkdefazio@hotmail.com