Freelance professional with more than a decade of experience. Current and former clients include Blackletter Group, The Courier-Journal, EATER, Granted Fundraising, HAWAI'I Magazine, Hawaii Home + Remodeling Magazine, Heartfelt Solutions, HONOLULU Magazine, LEAD Marketing Agency, Roberts Hawaii, StyleBlueprint, Today's Woman Magazine, and The Voice-Tribune.
Stefan and Heather Rumancik purchased their 1930s home in Audubon Park in 2009. After renovating the property, they lived in the house for about nine years before deciding it was time for another update - and they enlisted the help of Bethany Adams of Bethany Adams Interiors.
Kristin and Greg Holtgrave's five-bedroom home in Indian Hills was inspired by a historical building that has been called one of the most remarkable houses in North America. "There's a place in South Carolina called Drayton Hall," Greg told The Courier Journal. "We used that as our inspiration."
Share with your friends! Kentucky-born Becca Gardner grew up on a farm in the Commonwealth. After college, she began a career in strategy consulting and spent more than a decade in New York. Those years in the industry brought on a lot of drinking.
When Bethany and Joshua Adams purchased their Italianate abode in Old Louisville, they knew it was going to need a lot of work before they could call the house a home. "It was pretty derelict," Bethany told The Courier Journal. But as a seasoned interior designer, she wasn't afraid of a challenge.
I like to start and end my days with a cup of coffee — and no, the caffeine doesn’t keep me awake at night. I have no trouble drifting off to dreamland shortly after enjoying a late-night latte. This all-hours coffee craving can be a problem when I’m out late and jonesing for some joe. That’s why I was thrilled when Old Louisville Coffee Co-op — which is open 24/7 on the weekends — opened last summer.
Share with your friends! Jessica Mattingly was one of the first people in Louisville to break into the charcuterie board business. Her shop and tasting room, Cultured Cheese and Charcuterie Bar, specializes in locally sourced meat, cheese, and bourbon.
Jo Cornell's home décor is the epitome of horse country. From paintings and tissue holders to pillows and napkin rings, equines are represented in every room. It's fitting, considering her profession and upbringing. "It's horsey everywhere," she said with a laugh.
When Chris Mack got the gig as Louisville's head basketball coach, it meant one very important thing for his family: Finding a new home.
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.
If you're driving to Buck's Restaurant and Bar at night, don't blink or you might miss it.
Alejandro's Mexican food is serving up authentic dishes in Kalihi Valley.
The old Monkey Wrench bar at 1025 Barret Ave. is now home to V-Grits.
Most people wouldn't consider owning a catering business akin to leading a circus, but Deborah Lowery does.
Field Notes explores Honolulu's vast and varied scenes and subcultures. This month: Vinyl Record Enthusiasts.
Growing up in the United States comes with privileges most American children take for granted.
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.
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.
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
Get ready for your next close-up with Cherbu's new spring line.
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.
A mystical clothing line inspired by folklore of the planets.
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.
When Gabe and Kara Izumi were gifted Gabe's family home for their wedding, naturally, they were thrilled.
Top-of-the-line security keeps your business safe.
Content Creation & Project Management
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.
We love malihini, (newcomers, if you happen to be one). We welcome you with open arms and flower lei. Don't be surprised if people you've just met start calling you aunty or uncle-we treat everyone like family here. Hawai'i's warm hospitality has earned us the nickname the Aloha State.
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
A few years ago, I remember being holed up in my apartment, craving a bagel and searching for a nearby spot that was open amid the COVID-19 closures. That was how I came across Payne Street Bakehouse in Irish Hill. The café was taking text orders and offering curbside pickup. As owner Anne Fuller tells me, this is a service her team still provides today.
When I was growing up on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, my family rarely ate doughnuts. I was always big on sweets - and there were amazing bakeries whipping up some of the best baked goods I've ever had - but I don't remember seeing standalone doughnut shops until adulthood.
Locally owned Mexican restaurant Limón y Sal is just a five-minute drive from my apartment. This week, I caught up with Rachel Carmona, who co-owns the eatery with her husband Diego Carmona, as well as another husband-and-wife pair, Porfirio and Nelly Ledezma.
One of my favorite questions to ask business owners is how they came up with the name of their company. Sometimes, the reason is clear. Other times, it seems completely random. With The Black Italian, it might seem obvious — but when I caught up with owners Anthony and Paula Hunter, they told me the name of their restaurant in the Highlands isn’t about what many people think.
The café at Little Mount Lavender Company is a hidden gem, literally and figuratively. Though there are probably lots of Simpsonville residents who are familiar with the French-focused eatery, I know few Louisvillians who have had the pleasure of sampling some of its lavender-infused fare. And seeing as it’s an extension of the brand’s retail space — set off to the right side of the historic building in which the company operates — its existence isn’t immediately obvious.
After Fork & Barrel announced its move to the Morning Fork space in April 2022, I wondered what would take its place. A few months later, Eatz Vietnamese Restaurant relocated there from its original location in the Highlands, and this week, I caught up with owner and chef Nam Huynh.
I love a good grilled cheese sandwich. That gooey goodness mashed between heavily buttered and perfectly toasted bread gets me every time. Part of it is nostalgia, as I grew up getting grilled cheese from my hometown diner on a regular basis. But I think another part of it is the fact that while there are so many restaurants around town that offer variations of the classic sandwich, it never seems to get old. One such eatery is Melt 502 on Bardstown Road.
There are countless tips, tricks, and apps to increase productivity and make better use of the 24 hours we have every day. For those who spend a ton of time in the kitchen, picking up ready-made meals might be the answer. There is a plethora of options available nowadays, and this week, I chatted with someone who offers one such solution via fine- dining meals to go: Matt Rich, owner of Gourmet Provisions.
Over the past two and a half years, I’ve talked to numerous restaurateurs who have had to make major changes – and in some cases, shutter their businesses – due to the pandemic. Chris Mike, who owns Goose Creek Diner and Gander, an American Grill with his wife, Anne, won’t permanently shut any doors – but he will be relocating and revamping Goose Creek Diner next year.
I’ve gotten so accustomed to having something sweet after nearly every meal, my friends know if we’re dining somewhere that doesn’t serve dessert – the tragedy! – we’ll have to make an extra stop before we head home. On more than one occasion, we’ve popped over to Butchertown Grocery Bakery after an early lunch.
My first visit to the Colony Center in St. Matthews was five months ago when I was at snapping photos of my friend Julie as she tried on wedding dresses at Rebecca’s Wedding Boutique. At the time, I didn’t even notice the restaurant off to the left. This week, I learned that the eatery – aptly named 211 Clover Lane, like the address of the building – is an adorable little spot that has been around for nearly 30 years.
I’ve been to countless breweries, distilleries, and wineries over the years, but when I think of spots that specialize in champagne, the only place that comes to mind is The Champagnery in Clifton.
This locally owned, casual eatery in Watterson Plaza on Bishop Lane is owned and operated by Faisal Noor. His wife, Tiasha Noor, doesn’t hold an official title — but she’s a critical part of the business.
I can’t remember who told me I should check out Aladdin’s Mediterranean Cuisine. But when I finally made it over there last week, it wasn’t exactly easy to find. Navigating around road closures, I eventually found the restaurant, which is in the New Albany business center known as The Underground Station.
As a foodie, I like to think I’m familiar with all kinds of cuisine. Back home in Hawaii, I was exposed to a diverse array of dishes from an early age, and over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of dining everywhere from hidden gem hole-in-the-wall eateries to Michelin-star restaurants.
Stella Mountain, owner of Ntaba Coffee Haus, can appreciate the ritual of coffee drinking. This week, we sat down – mugs in hand – and talked about how the shop came to be and what’s next for the business.
Though the name Angio’s Italian Restaurant might suggest otherwise, this Jeffersontown joint isn’t a sit-down, full-service, white-tablecloth kind of place where you sip on an aperitif while you wait for the antipasto to arrive – it’s a pizzeria.
Ever since I moved to Kentucky, I’ve kept a running list of restaurants I’d like to try. Whenever someone recommends an eatery or I hear about another spot that’s opening soon, I add it to my list. I have yet to cross everything off – and the way new places keep popping up, I probably never will – but that’s something I love about Louisville.
After living in Louisville for six years and writing about countless restaurants around town, it's rare for someone to mention an established Derby City eatery that I haven't at least heard about. That's why I was surprised to learn of Crave Café & Catering, which has been in business in Clifton - one of my favorite areas!
Anyone who has spent a lot of time with me knows that although smoothies aren’t my favorite food, they’re my most frequently consumed fare. I just love the convenience of a quick, nutrient-dense, and refreshing meal during a busy work- week. Jenifer Wilkinson, who co-owns Honeydew with sisters Hanh Duong and Tram Thai, knows all about the power of a good smoothie.
If you asked anyone around town to name a few things that are “distinctly Louisville,” there’s a good chance that the iconic hot brown will come up. But the funny thing is, even though most people in Derby City have heard of the open-faced sandwich, not everyone has tried it. Up until May of last year, I was one of those people.
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 Panchitos Ice Cream on Preston Highway — a Mexican dessert shop with more than 40 ice cream flavors and a bunch of other cold creations I’d never heard of.
Though I probably won’t ever participate in an extreme food challenge, 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.” Competitors were tasked with finishing a five-mile hike, then immediately eating a Cardinal Burrito from Bandido Taqueria Mexicana...
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.
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 trauma, and more importantly, it gave us all a good excuse to get together every week for dinner and drinks after the game.
I have always had a sweet tooth. Everyone who knows me knows this, and if we’ve been friends for a while, you’ve probably texted me a time or two to either 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.
I've always loved pizza. But as a child, there were really only two types of pie I was accustomed to: the bland, cardboard-like rectangular pieces that were served at school, and the personal pans I earned from Pizza Hut's BOOK IT! program.
I wasn’t always a big fan of Vietnamese 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.
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.
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.
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.
Though summer is still more than a month away, the temperature here lately has me feeling like pool season - and therefore barbecue season - is already upon us. Shack in the Back BBQ, a family-owned restaurant that has been operating out of a food truck, opened its new brick-and-mortar location just in time.
Changes in the restaurant industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic forced restaurateurs everywhere to make some difficult decisions. The owners of Decca in NuLu were among those who con- templated a permanent closure.
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.
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.
I appreciate a good meal - wherever it may come from - but old-school, family-style eateries will always hold a special place in my heart. Whenever I go home to Hawaii, I make a stop at the diner I grew up visiting; and if I'm traveling to a new place, it's these types of restaurants that I seek out.
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.
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.
My sweet tooth has led me to lots of interesting places around town. Every time someone sends me a text message or email about a new bakery or ice cream shop, I add it to my ever-growing list of eateries to check out.
I'm a night owl. I do most of my writing between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., which means early-morning meetings cut into my sleep time and require a long ride on the struggle bus. As I drove to an 8 a.m.
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.
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 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.
Hole-in-the-wall, off-the-beaten- path restaurants often have good food and great stories – and they’re not typically the places you’ve read about in the paper or on social media.
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.
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 bakery in St. Matthews that whips up made-from-scratch cookies in all forms.
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.
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.
I recently had the opportunity to do that at The Kitchen Table, a new restaurant 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.
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 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.
As I step into Señora Arepa in NuLu, I'm greeted with lively Venezuelan music pumping through the speakers; the room's bold blue walls are splashed with Spanish words and lined with bright yellow seating. The restaurant has all the trappings of a Saturday night party - but it's 11:30 a.m.
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.
Schimpff’s Confectionery is Kentuckiana’s most historic candy shop, and one of the oldest in the U.S. Founded by Gustav A. Schimpff Sr. in 1891, the shop is now run by Warren Schimpff and his wife Jill.
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.
Nutrition wasn't something I concerned myself with until I reached my late twenties. I'm embarrassed to say that for many years, I lived off a diet consisting primarily of burgers, fries and a lot of chocolate.
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.
Brightly colored walls, hot pink unicorn 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.
Safier Mediterranean Deli is one of those places that everyone who lives or works in the area knows about. When I lived on South Fourth Street, I'd make the five-minute walk downtown to pick up a platter with hummus, falafel, rice, and spinach pie.
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.
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
Cadillac’s Chicken and Fish started out as a food truck. As owners Marsha Buchanan and her stepson Terrance Buchanan explain, the idea came from Marsha’s husband, Howard Buchanan.
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.
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.
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.
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."
When I took over the Courier Journal’s weekly restaurant column last year, my focus was on how restaurateurs were managing to keep their businesses afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic. This week, I connected with Kimberly and Zechariah Maxey – the owners of Leaven Bakery, who opened up shop as a result of the pandemic.
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.”