Wearing a black-and-white dress and matching hat, Nitty Gritty co-owner Terri Burt greeted customers at the store's 13th anniversary celebration in early April. The vintage clothing shop, located at 996 Barret Ave., offered customers refreshments and a 13-percent discount on purchases. Burt used the anniversary as an opportunity to remind the community that Nitty Gritty was still open. Burt says foot traffic has been down at her store and others in the area since Lynn’s Paradise Cafe closed in January. She wants the public know that Barret Avenue still has a lot to offer in a post-Lynn’s world.
“Although Lynn’s isn’t here, we’re all still surviving, and we don’t want people to forget about us,” Burt explains. “We love this part of our neighborhood. Everybody knows each other. Everybody is sticking together.”
Burt’s concerns and her optimism were echoed at other Barret Avenue businesses. Rosie Sesler, a manager of Artist and Craftsman Supply, says sales are down since threatened legal action over the restaurant’s new tip system caused Lynn’s to close. Sesler’s store, like others in the area, benefited from Lynn’s patrons, who browsed the area shops while waiting for a table or walking back to their cars after a meal. Mo McKnight Howe, owner of Revelry Boutique Gallery, admits, “It definitely has an impact on new people finding us. Sales are down slightly. I don’t get any tourists anymore."
The business owners hope the communal dip in sales is only temporary. Lynn’s Paradise Cafe owner Lynn Winter announced in March that she is looking for a buyer for the restaurant, though a sale does not seem to be in sight. In the meantime, the remaining Barret Avenue business owners are looking for ways to engage the community. On Sunday, May 5, they are joining forces for the first Hungover Games, a post-Derby celebration that takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Lynn’s Paradise Cafe held an annual post-Derby event that drew out-of-town tourists by the busload. The Hungover Games takes up the tradition and expands it into a neighborhood-wide festival. Named after the popular book series “The Hunger Games,” the Hungover Games will feature the Louisville Food Truck Association as well as games organized by the shops. The businesses also plan to obtain a dunk-tank full of coffee and a woman named Jennifer Lawrence – though not necessarily the movie star.
“We want to say, 'hey, we’re still here, the party’s still going on,'” Howe says. “Just because Lynn’s closed doesn’t mean we’re going to close.”