Louisville Magazine

NOV 2016

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 11.16 133 The fall of the Rouxman Empire Restaurants close all the time. But an empire crumbling within two years? That requires reflection. The leader: Dustin Staggers, who opened five and a half restaurants in two years — Roux, Rumplings, two Epic Sammich Co. locations, America. The Diner and a pop-up "concept" known as Ten Tables (that's the half). His mates: a group of ambitious chefs who dubbed themselves the Roux-Tang Clan. In a 78-minute podcast on the blog Kitchen Banter, Staggers and a fellow Roux-Tang-er, Griffin Paulin, discuss the best of times and the end of times. Reasons for the closures: too many restaurants in Louisville and too few customers to fill all those seats; not enough employees; profits barely; people who bitch on Yelp reviews; too much exposure ("There was probably a point where an article was coming out weekly," Staggers says, later adding, "When you walk by people on the street and they whisper about who the fuck you are and you don't know them . . . inside your head, you get a boner"); too little exposure; Epic Sammich Co. didn't have enough "frontage" a block off Baxter Avenue; too many concepts to juggle. Rumplings, Staggers says, was "the perfect spot" but opened three weeks after Roux. (In the past, Staggers has said he always planned on closing Rumplings after a few months.) Rumplings. Those were the best of times. Long lines, effusive foodies posting $12 ramen all over social media. "It's no secret that at Rumplings I was going home with a different woman every night," Paulin says. Staggers mentions once walking in on an orgy in his own Jacuzzi. Staggers did not partake. "Probably too drunk," he says, laughing. Paulin and Staggers ruminate on a "beef" the two developed as the empire grew. Paulin admits, "I lost sight of being a cook and making good food." Staggers laments, "Both maybe a little too caught up in ourselves." For now, no new restaurants on the horizon for Staggers, just beach-y sunsets in his new home of Myrtle Beach. (Paulin, though, is about to open another.) Hey, actual Wu-Tang Clan, any thoughts on all of this? Take it away, Ghostface Killah: "My thoughts must be relaxed, be able to maintain/'Cause times is changed and life is strange/The glorious days is gone, and everybody's doing bad/Yo, mad lives is up for grabs." — AM REGULAR NIBBLES UP FED Morris' Deli 2228 Taylorsville Road Tony (last name withheld) has been going to Morris' Deli for 10 years to buy meat in bulk to keep at home, but also for the sandwiches. He goes to Morris' twice a week for the ambiance that takes you back in time. "It's like walking back into the '50s. It's so amazing how they treat people here, and the meats are fantastic," he says. He sits in the front window while he waits for one of his favorite menu items: the Reuben or French dip. —Kelly Veer Kathy Hart is manager of Isaac's Cafe at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest The best place to eat a[er midnight in Louisville? "Ramsi's. Great place to go after contra dancing." What did you eat for dinner last night? "Vegan fettuccini Alfredo (sauce made from cashews) with portabella mushrooms, garlic, red peppers and broccoli. It's one of my favorite dishes to make." What dish do you make at home most o[en? "Soup. We make lots of soups at Isaac's and I do the same at home. I most frequently make hot-and-sour." What's in your freezer right now? "Along with several bags of Brussels sprouts, there are persim- mons, acorn meal and chocolate-covered crickets. My sister does a Wild Edible program at Bernheim and an Eat a Bug demo at Bugfest. Following a vegan diet gives me a pass on the crickets." What's always in your refrigerator? "Soy or almond milk, along with Just Mayo. This new vegan mayo has given me back potato salad." Favorite cheap beer? "Aldi sells a brand called Monterey for $6.99 a six-pack. It is surprising- ly good." What's the first drink you ever had? "I was 16. My parents were out of town and friends came over and brought this horrible sloe gin fizz. Yuck. I ended up so sick. I have sworn off all pink liquids since." When do you know to cut yourself off? "I typically have a two-drink limit, but in the past it was if I went to the ladies' room and had trouble finding my way back." What cures your hangover? "Grape Rockstar Recovery. I swear by it. Besides, it has vitamin b12." If you were a vegetable, what would you be? "Potato. Potatoes are versatile, sort of a blank canvas full of possibilities." If you were a fruit, what would you be? "Peach. I'm sweet, warm and fuzzy, with a tough interior." What closed Louisville restaurant do you miss the most? "When I was a kid growing up in Shelbyville, my parents would take the family to Cape Codder, which I know hasn't been around for a long time. I have so many fond memories of going as a family for Icelandic cod and this delicious crab spread and Captain's Wafers." Illustration by Kendall Regan Mmmmmmm, Blue Dog's bacon To-go The folks behind Blue Dog have opened the craft butcher shop/ cafe Red Hog (2622 Frankfort Ave.). Butcher Block

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