Lennie V. Omalza

Writer. Editor. Content Creator. Project Manager.

United States

Freelance professional with more than a decade of experience. Clients include Blackletter Group, The Courier-Journal, Granted Fundraising, Hawaii Home + Remodeling Magazine, HONOLULU Magazine, LEAD Marketing Agency, Roberts Hawaii, StyleBlueprint, Today's Woman, and The Voice-Tribune.

Portfolio

Recently Published

The Courier-Journal
Ice cream shop fuses Mexican, American flavors

Whenever I go to a new restaurant, the first thing I do is look at the dessert menu. I love discovering new sweet treats, so you can guess how excited I was to happen upon Pan- chitos Ice Cream on Pres- ton Highway — a Mexican dessert shop with more than 40 ice cream flavors and a bunch of other cold creations I’d never heard of.

The Courier-Journal
This home was named 'Best Farmhouse Remodel' in Louisville. Take a peek inside

Gerald and Dorie Shelburne were living in the Fern Creek subdivision dubbed Little Spring Farm when they started thinking about downsizing. "The kids moved out, and we were looking at condos downtown so we could walk (everywhere)," Dorie told The Courier Journal. However, she said all the city spaces made her feel "a bit claustrophobic."

StyleBlueprint
THIS Is Louisville's Best Lobster Roll: Longshot Lobsta

The lobster roll may have originated in New England, but Derby City can definitely hold its own. Longshot Lobsta, Louisville's original lobster truck, is serving up lobster rolls and more all over town. And no, they aren't out of business!

The Courier-Journal
California-style Mexican street food with a twist

Though I probably won’t ever participate in an extreme food chal- lenge, I like the idea of them and enjoy being a spectator. My friend Alex creates his own competitions, with participants earning points by consuming certain dishes from local restaurants and completing specific physical activities. He dubbed one such contest the “Five, Fries, and Freeze Challenge.” Com- petitors were tasked with finishing a five-mile hike, then immediately eating a Cardinal Burrito from Bandido Taqueria Mexi-...

Home Stories

The Courier-Journal
This Jeffersontown home is full of Kentucky Derby love and memories

Marita and Bob Willis are both born-and-bred Kentuckians. "Bob and I grew up on the same porch in Park Hill," Marita explained. "We were friends (ever) since our mothers were friends." The two women - both single moms - became quick chums, and their children followed suit.

Restaurant Reviews

Lifestyle Articles

The Voice-Tribune
Lady-led, but catering to all

Most people wouldn't consider owning a catering business akin to leading a circus, but Deborah Lowery does.

The Voice-Tribune
Little Voices, Big Impacts

Growing up in the United States comes with privileges most American children take for granted.

Hiking Guides

Honolulu Magazine
Oʻahu Hike of the Month: Makiki Valley Loop Trail

Escape the hustle and bustle of city life without leaving Honolulu. Photos: Courtesy of Lennie Omalza TRAIL NAME: Makiki Valley Loop Trail DIFFICULTY: Moderate LENGTH: 2.5 miles roundtrip FEE: None WHERE: Hawaiʻi Nature Center, 2131 Maikiki Heights Drive Hiking can be dangerous, and not every trail is a good idea for every person.

Honolulu Magazine
Oʻahu Hike of the Month: Lanikai Pillbox Trail

A quick trek with a breathtaking view in Kailua. Photos: Lennie Omalza TRAIL NAME: Lanikai Pillbox Trail DIFFICULTY: Moderate LENGTH: 1 mile roundtrip FEE: None WHERE: Kaelepulu Drive, Kailua Hiking can be dangerous, and not every trail is a good idea for every person.

Honolulu Magazine
Oʻahu Hike of the Month: Moanalua Valley Trail

Also known as Kamananui Valley Road, this relaxing trail is great for the whole family. Editor's Note: We love hiking! Fortunately, O'ahu is full of great hikes. In this web series, we bring you our favorite O'ahu trails once a month.

Fashion & Beauty Stories

Lei Chic
Picture Perfect

Get ready for your next close-up with Cherbu's new spring line.

StyleBlueprint
Your New Summer Beauty Routine

A great beauty routine will keep you looking fabulous during all seasons, but everyone knows a bit of a transition is needed once summer rays start shining. Keep scrolling for the latest tips and tricks from industry experts, as well as new products that will ensure your summer beauty strategy has you looking your best while you soak up the sun.

Lei Chic
New Moon

A mystical clothing line inspired by folklore of the planets.

Advertorial Projects

HONOLULU Magazine
Women's Health

Since its opening in 2001, the Queen's Women's Health Center has offered a variety of services, including physical therapy geared specifically to women's health-related diagnoses.

Content Creation & Project Management

Blackletter Group
Luau & Learn

Blackletter Group created Luau and Learn, a fun and engaging family home activity. Luau and Learn launched online and included a downloadable activity book that taught kids about Hawaii’s diverse food and rich culture all the while reinforcing the authentic L&L Hawaiian Barbecue brand.

Blackletter Group
NEi

NEi Established in 1985, NEi is an employment and vocational rehabilitation non-profit that counsels, trains and matches clients with employers in Hawaii. The Challenge As a non-profit organization dependent on private and public funding, NEi struggled for years to remain relevant in the eyes of its stakeholders.

Dining Column Archive

The Courier-Journal
Caribbean restaurant is serving up flavorful food

I’m from Hawaii, and on my quest to find food that has some semblance of the cuisine back home, I came across Open Caribbean Kitchen, an eatery with island flair. The little restaurant on Pop- lar Level Road is easy to miss. Surround- ed by businesses like auto repair shops and appliance stores, it’s a literal dia- mond in the rough.

The Courier-Journal
Sports bar might have the best outdoor patio in Louisville

After an embarrassing volleyball mishap during my freshman year of high school, I avoided the sport like the plague. But in 2019, my friends and I started playing on a sand volleyball rec league. It helped me to get over the trau- ma, and more importantly, it gave us all a good excuse to get together every week for dinner and drinks after the game

The Courier-Journal
This micro bakery fuses traditional Oaxacan, European pastry styles

I have always had a sweet tooth. Ev- eryone who knows me knows this, and if we’ve been friends for a while, you’ve probably texted me a time or two to ei- ther ask for a dessert recommendation or check to see if I’ve been to the newest ice cream shop, candy store, or bakery in town. The latter is how I learned about La Pana Bakery y Café

The Courier-Journal
Is this the best Vietnamese food in Louisville?

I wasn’t always a big fan of Vietnam- ese food. Growing up in Hawaii, I took for granted having access to a plethora of cuisines. So, when I moved to Louisville and couldn’t find a single Hawaiian restau- rant in the area — if you find one, let me know — I instantly started gravitating toward the eateries that serve other kinds of dishes I’d been accustomed to having at my disposal — and that in- cluded things like pho, fried rice, and vermicelli bowls.

The Courier-Journal
Shelby Park ice cream shop serving soft-serve twists on classic treats

Though summer doesn’t officially start for a cou- ple more weeks, as far as I’m concerned, my favor- ite season of the year is already here. I’ve been spending my days wear- ing shorts and tank tops, catching some sun while playing sand volleyball, and enjoying cool sweet treats, like soft serve with fun toppings from Sugar Room.

The Courier-Journal
North of Bourbon brings a Creole-Cajun-inspired menu to Louisville

I don’t think I tried bourbon until I moved to Kentucky – and even then, it took a couple years for me to warm up to the idea and give it a whirl. I’m still a little leery of drinking it straight, but I’ve grown fond of whiskey and bourbon-based cocktails. Most re- cently, I tried a Frozen Kentucky Coffee, an ode to a bar in New Orleans, created by the team at North of Bourbon in Ger- mantown.

The Courier-Journal
'By giving, we get more:' East Louisville restaurant focuses on more than its bottom line

It has been more than two years since this column shifted focus. Instead of dining reviews, it's more of a summary of catch-up conversations with restaurant owners and chefs around town. The weekly convos with people in the industry amid the pandemic have made me hyper aware of their struggles, and I often leave these chats feeling a little worried for them and the state of restaurants in Louisville.

The Courier-Journal
How this Lexington-based steakhouse is taking east Louisville by storm

It has been said that good things come to those who wait. Louisville steak lovers who are familiar with Lexington-based prime beef steakhouse Malone's have waited a long time for the restaurant to come to town. Its first store opened in 1998, and about eight years ago, its co-founders started looking for a Louisville location.

The Courier-Journal
New brewery in Old Louisville serves up craft beers, gourmet pizzas

Noble Funk Brewing Company – which occupies less than half of the 27,000-square-foot building – finally opened its doors on Jan.14 of this year with a grand opening celebration on Saint Patrick’s Day. With a plethora of seating options – including indoor chairs and sofas as well as outdoor picnic tables – it can comfortably accommodate 200-plus people.

The Courier-Journal
Don’t skip trying this quick-service restaurant and its outdoor games

As the weather warms up, ice cream shops are reopening, restaurants are bringing out the patio furniture, and outdoor games at eateries around town are starting to get played once again. I, for one, can’t wait till spring officially begins and alfresco meals become an everyday part of dining out. I think it’s safe to say that the team at Bocce Bowl – particularly operating partner Levi Donaldson and head chef Alex Mikel – feel the same.

The Courier-Journal
Restaurant serving seafood, New Orleans beignets ready for Lent

Growing up in Hawaii, I never noticed an uptick in fish consumption during Lent. With seafood being so common- place, I heard more from my Catholic friends about giving up sweets or rice for the 40-day observance than I did about fish Fridays. For some Louisville restaurant owners, however, Lent is their busiest time of year. Such is the case for Adam Hilsenrad of The Fish House/Café Beignet.

The Courier-Journal
Artisanal gelato shop serves authentic sweets with Italian ingredients

The first sign of inclement weather always gets me daydreaming about moving back home to Hawaii. After living in Louisville for almost six years, I know the feeling will pass. I just have to focus on all the things I’ll be able to do once it warms up: standup paddleboard, kayak, hike, and head back to places that are currently closed for the season, like Gelato Gilberto. I caught up with co-owner Kristin Gilbert to see what she and her husband Justin have in store for their March 1 reopening.

The Courier-Journal
Craft cocktails, small plates and a James Bond vibe

Chef Edward Lee’s Milkwood used to be my go-to restaurant downtown for dinner before shows at Actors Theatre of Louisville or The Kentucky Center. Like so many things in 2020, those shows were canceled, and Milkwood closed.

The Courier-Journal
New boutique bakery serves up artisan breads, European-style pastries

The beginning of the pandemic was a prime time for starting hobbies. I know a few people who discovered a new- found love of gardening, and even more who hopped on the sourdough craze. James Bridges, who co-owns The Grainwright with his wife Claire, also began churning out bread loaves after COVID led to his layoff.

The Courier-Journal
Barbecue, all-you-can-eat-wings & more

Chris Williams, the owner of Four Pegs in Germantown, purchased the pub in March 2019 and recalls exactly how long he was able to run the business before COVID changed everything.

The Courier-Journal
St. Matthews bakery is serving cookies made-from-scratch

Anyone who truly knows me under- stands that cookies are my weakness. I have a wicked sweet tooth and love sweets in general, but there’s something about cookies that have a Lay’s potato chip effect – I can’t eat just one. That’s why I was thrilled to learn about Penny & Pearl’s Bakeshop, a locally owned bak- ery in St. Matthews that whips up made-from-scratch cookies in all forms.

The Courier-Journal
East Louisville restaurant serves top-notch steak, more

I’m no wine connoisseur, which is why I appreciate places like Brix Wine Bar & Bistro in east Louisville. The staff is always ready with a recommendation; and if wine isn’t your thing, there are other options.

The Courier-Journal
This East Louisville restaurant is serving up authentic Lebanese food

Mediterranean cuisine is interesting in that it includes food from so many countries – Turkey, Morocco, Lebanon, and Egypt, to name a few. Though the dishes of these places tend to be lumped into one category, I recently learned of a differentiator that sets one type of food apart from the others.

The Courier-Journal
The Kitchen Table nods to BBQ and special yeast strain

recently had the opportunity to do that at The Kitchen Table, a new restau- rant on the campus of the James B. Beam Distilling Co. in Clermont. Over a three-course lunch – plus drinks and desserts – I had the pleasure of chatting with Freddie Noe, distiller and great- great-grandson of Jim Beam; beverage director John Douglass; and chef Brian Landry.

The Courier-Journal
Vegan restaurant is focused on flavorful breakfast food

Thanks to the Daniel Fast – which is basically a 21-day vegan diet with additional restrictions – I’ve had a couple of stints with veganism. I’ll admit that af- ter those three-week periods, I felt great and maintained much healthier eating habits for quite a while afterward.

The Courier-Journal
NuLu restaurant serves unique farm-to-table dishes with a twist

The best thing about new restaurants is discovering unique and interesting dishes to try. On my first visit to Everyday Kitchen — located in a spot dubbed "The Gateway to NuLu" — I realized that every menu item fell into this category.

The Courier-Journal
Is this southern-fusion restaurant the next ‘it’ place in Louisville?

A small blue and white building in Clifton – formerly occupied by Boujie Biscuit – has been in the hands of St. Louis native Nick Bean since March 2021. The Frankfort Avenue space is now known as Phantom Café Modern Eatery & Catering Co., a modern southern-fusion restaurant run solely by Bean.

The Courier-Journal
Tasty and fresh: Why it's all about made-to-order dishes at this popular Indian restaurant

If you asked me a week ago to explain the difference between northern and southern Indian cuisine, I wouldn't have been able to tell you. But after sitting down with Taj Palace Indian Restaurant owner Balwinder Singh over a cup of masala chai tea - a drink made by boiling black tea in milk and water, and adding a mix of herbs and spices - I have a basic understanding of the distinction.

The Courier-Journal
The best Detroit-style pizza in Louisville?

Pizza is one of those dishes that are very personal; there’s no one-size-fits- all recipe for what makes a great pizza. While some prefer a Chicago deep dish, others love a crunchy, thin crust. Top- pings are another controversial topic — is it OK to put anchovies on a pizza? What about olives? I believe in variety and choice; all pizza is good pizza, in my opinion — just do me a favor and don’t call it “Hawaiian” because you’ve thrown some pineapple on it.

The Courier-Journal
CC’s Low Carb Kitchen serves up ‘jovial ambiance’

Brightly colored walls, hot pink uni- corn busts, and a big, bold painting by Louisville artist David Green are just a few parts of the playful setting Corey Milliman has created in his downtown restaurant, CC’s Low Carb Kitchen.

The Courier-Journal
Trendy Vietnamese restaurant is serving up the best pho in town

I remember when the Vietnamese restaurant Pho Ba Luu opened in Sep- tember 2016. I’d been living in Louisville for three months, and it was exciting to discover a new eatery that served some of the same dishes I used to enjoy back home in Hawaii. Five years later, I caught up with owner Jessica Mach, who is cur- rently working 60-plus hour weeks to keep her business going.

The Courier-Journal
From knots to skølebröd, Smør Nordic Bakeri is serving treats like no other in Louisville

As someone with an affinity for both bakeries and unique eateries, Smør Nordic Bakeri on Poplar Level Road is right up my alley. It’s the first and only place I’ve found that offers Scandinavian desserts in Louisville; this is unsurprising since owner Liz Huot — who owns Grind Burger Kitchen, Oskar’s Slider Bar and Smør Nordic Bakeri with her husband, Jesse Huot — says Smør is probably the only place in the Bluegrass with similar menu offerings

The Courier-Journal
The hottest wings in Louisville? Take this hot wing challenge

Over the past year, I’ve touched base with restaurant owners, operators, and managers throughout the Louisville area. Aside from a select few, most of their stories have been similar: last year was exceptionally rough, they’re experiencing product shortages, and they can’t seem to hire enough staff. The team at Rootie’s Sports Bar & Grille tells a slightly different story. Though they have their own struggles, 2020 was good for business.

The Courier-Journal
Homestyle cafe is staying afloat amid product, labor issues

I pull up to the more than 100-year-old brick house on Main Street in Middletown. Its pale-yellow roof is offset by bright cyan doors and windows; matching picnic tables with umbrellas are set outside. A pink wooden flamingo stands to the left of the front door, greeting visitors. The little house, however, is not a home — it has been the site of Susan Stivers’ restaurant, Cottage Café, for nearly 30 years.

The Courier-Journal
Unique restaurant is changing the local food scene

There’s a wide variety of cuisine in Louisville, but Lou Lou Food + Drink in St. Matthews is the only restaurant I know of that blends three specific types of fare: “It’s Cajun/Italian with a Mediterranean twist,” explained owner Jared Matthews, who also owns Equus & Jack’s Lounge/Black Rabbit as well as Diamond Street Grub & Hops. He is also a partner at Diamond Pub & Billiards.

The Courier-Journal
Italian restaurant says local food scene is struggling

Caity DiFabio and her husband, Jon Riley, have been the restaurant’s owners and operators since 2012. “My parents actually opened our original location in Madisonville in 1995,” DiFabio told The Courier Journal. “I think it was 2018 when they closed that location. But in the interim, we opened this location in 2010."

The Courier-Journal
New bakery offers made-from-scratch breads and pastries

When I took over the Courier Jour- nal’s weekly restaurant column last year, my focus was on how restaura- teurs were managing to keep their busi- nesses afloat amid the coronavirus pan- demic. This week, I connected with Kimberly and Zechariah Maxey – the owners of Leaven Bakery, who opened up shop as a result of the pandemic.

The Courier-Journal
This Filipino food truck is exploding on Louisville's food scene

Most of my friends and family back home in Hawaii don’t understand Louisville’s appeal — and the questions about what the city does or doesn’t offer are endless. A recent text message from a friend read: “Can you even get Filipino food over there?” I did a quick Google search and came up with enough information for a response: “There’s a Filipino food market that opened, and supposedly there’s a food truck that sells lumpia.”