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Eager Entrepreneur

Business owner has big expansion plans in downtown La Grange, Ky.

Venture will feature an art museum,
event space and more

LA GRANGE, Ky. (August 2020) – Main Street La Grange is always looking toward the future. Entrepreneur Heather Hottenroth shares that vision and plans to bring several new businesses downtown to create excitement and draw people to the area and keep them in the county.
On April 15, Hottenroth purchased the former Serendipity Café & Gifts, located at 116 E. Main St. Having grown up in a small Texas town, she said she liked the overall feel of the “small, quaint town of La Grange”

Photo provided

Heather Hottenroth is busy developing a building on La Grange’s Main Street into a multiuse facility.


Plans are in the works for a multipurpose venue for this site, which will include four modes of business, she said. Included will be a contemporary art museum. It will be “an installation museum and contain art not seen here before. An emphasis will also be on community art,” said Hottenroth. She wants it to be more of an “experience center; nothing will be for sale.”
Another part of the building will be devoted to an Airbnb with three bedrooms, a kitchen and garden area in back of the building. With a wedding venue across the street, Hottenroth thinks an Airbnb will be perfect for special events like weddings to host the bridal party, family or friends. She said it would be great for a staycation as well, to explore local attractions close to home. To make it more of a luxury hotel experience, she is considering combining a stay with other nearby services, such as a trip to a local spa.
Sandie Fulks, executive director of La Grange Ky., Main Street Program, said that the Airbnb accommodations on the upper floor of the building will provide guests the opportunity “to enjoy the feeling of being in the middle of the action on Main Street while being close enough to touch the trains!”
Fulks said that another addition will be a “speakeasy” in tribute to our Kentucky bourbon and prohibition traditions. Hottenroth said it will be similar to the Hell or High Water Bar in Louisville, and she would have special entertainment such as Chicago jazz, magicians or contortionists.
Hottenroth is still figuring out a business model, but another option is to provide guest chef experiences. “I want to try to diversify” by providing Greek, French and food from other countries. She is even considering partnering with different university cooking schools to create a craft experience to draw more visitors and locals into town.
This is not the first time Hottenroth has invested time and money into the city. She previously purchased a building in the downtown area for her business, Nurture CX. Now semi-retired, she still works as a consumer experience strategist for large companies. Though she has had to travel all over for work, she has made her home in Centerfield, Ky., for the last 18 years.
“Part of my passion is preserving historic buildings,” she said. It will take a year for what she deemed a “massive undertaking” to renovate the entire building. She said she hopes to be able to open the first section, the museum, by early spring 2021.
“The excitement about this renovation project is incredible,” said Fulks. “To see that beautiful building come back to life is a shot in the arm to the whole community. You can almost see it become more vibrant and more people getting excited about every day. There is so much potential for events, community projects and certainly gives local and tourists something delightful to enjoy when they come visit.”
She said it will definitely revitalize the downtown area. “Small towns around the nation are all working through the ramifications of COVID-19 and rapidly changing models to adapt to a new ‘normal’ way of doing business.”
Fulks said revitalizing downtown “is imperative to keeping our towns, our local businesses and our citizens happy and successful. It takes thinking outside the box, creating fun new experiences for our residents and visitors and involving our local residents in building the kind of town we want to live, shop and play in.”
Hottenroth said her goal is also to increase foot traffic by partnering with other big museums, art galleries, etc. to encourage people to come to La Grange. “I think people are hungry for experiences in Oldham County. They need more than one reason to come to town.”
To that end, Fulks said, “We have recently implemented a 100-day enhancement strategy of the La Grange Historic District with the specific goal of identifying new opportunities to increase tourism, ensure preservation and generate revenue for local businesses. We will also develop plans to immediately improve the visual curb appeal and create destination worthy new experience for tourists. The goal is to develop actionable strategies and projects that enhance our city.”
Hottenroth said the vision is to “bring the town together and create proposals – ideally, to make rapid movement now during the COVID shutdowns,” to get the plan up and moving.
“It’s a human-centered design practice,” she said, that she hopes will meet the needs of the city and tourists alike. The four pillar plan includes: beautification, new investors, building essential strategies and short-term new experiences that will “enhance what we have.”
Furthermore, Fulks added, “I see this project as an example of what can be done when you have people who are willing to invest time, resources and ingenuity to make great things happen,. This is the first of many incredible things on the horizon for our city.”

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