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Paseo entrance (1).jpg Photo courtesy of Common Bond Hotel Collection
Guests walk through the entrance of Paseo restaurant, in Louisville, Ky. which anchors the Myriad hotel and is part of Common Bond Hotel Collection.

One company’s mission to turn Kentucky’s Bourbon Country into a bigger food and beverage destination

Weyland Ventures’ Common Bond Hotel Collection was created to build a portfolio of unique hotel/restaurant properties around Kentucky’s Bourbon Country.

In June, a new concept called Paseo opened up in one of Louisville, Ky.’s walkable, bustling neighborhoods, featuring an open kitchen with a Southern European-inspired, wood-fired menu. The restaurant anchors a new boutique hotel, called Myriad, which used to serve as a disco ball factory and, in fact, there are several vestiges remaining as part of the overall ambiance.

This entire space serves as sort of a blueprint for Common Bond Hotel Collection, a “culture focused” hotel and hospitality management group created by Weyland Ventures to build a portfolio of boutique hotels accompanied by unique, chef-led restaurants. Thus far, there are two such combination concepts – the Myriad/Paseo in Louisville, and the mid-century-inspired Bardstown Motor Lodge/Toogie’s Table, located in Bardstown, Ky.

Bardstown is located about 40 miles south of Louisville. If it sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the Bourbon Capital of the World, boasting 11 different distillery experiences from Maker’s Mark to Heaven Hill and Willett. It is located in the heart of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and therefore in the heart of a tourism windfall. Bourbon has garnered quite the interest and demand throughout the past five or so years, with sales expected to continue growing by 5% through 2026.

Craig Pishotti, co-founder of the Common Bond Hotel Collection, believes this concentration of distilleries combined with the increasing demand for bourbon has created a perfect storm of tourism potential and his company is trying to strike while the iron is hot.

“I think with bourbon we can do what California has done with wine tourism,” Pishotti said during a recent interview. “Napa and Sonoma, they’ve always had that allure, and people invest week’s long adventures around that area. I think we can contribute something similar here in Kentucky around bourbon tourism and my ambition is to get people who are coming here for a day or two to stay even longer. Our phrase is linger longer.”

Indeed, over 70% of Kentucky Bourbon Trail visitors travel from out of state. To get those visitors to “linger longer,” Common Bond is on a mission to create a robust portfolio of destination hotels/restaurants. Beyond the existing properties in Louisville and Bardstown, there are six additional concepts in the pipeline for Kentucky, all expected to open by 2026. Next up is Frankfort, Ky., home of Buffalo Trace Distillery and nearby Glenns Creek Distilling and Castle & Key Distillery. That hotel will be anchored by a chop/steakhouse and is expected to open in June 2024.

After that, another concept will open in Bardstown, then a second in Frankfort, followed by a concept in Elizabethtown, Ky., one in Paducah, Ky., and a second in Louisville, where there is an “urban bourbon trail” with distilleries like Angel’s Envy, Copper & Kings, and Michter’s.   

“We have a lot in the pipeline right now and none of them are the same. We are working to make sure everything we do is authentic to the space and that each restaurant is individualized,” Pishotti said.

Mike Wajda, director of culinary and operations for Common Bond, and his team, ensure such individualization. Wajda graduated from Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in 2007 and then worked alongside Chef Gordon Ramsay in New York City. His experience illustrates the significance Common Bond is placing on its food and beverage programs.

“The menus, the restaurants, they’ll be the focal point. I’ve always believed in the food and beverage element is the personality of the hotel. It’s where most interaction happens for visitors,” Pishotti said. “When we design and think about restaurants, we’re always designing for the locals. The theory is if the locals love it, visitors will flock. That’s a touchstone for us when we consider food profiles, menus, beverage programs. That’s the authenticity we want.”

At Paseo, for instance, the Mediterranean-inspired menu may not scream “Louisville,” but a closer look shows that the produce and protein come from local farms.

“There are no big trucks pulling up to our door. All of our food is being delivered by local farms,” Pishotti said. “It is important for us to utilize the bounty of Kentucky and the magnificent farms that are here.”

This sourcing is part of that overall goal to create a “linger longer” appeal for Kentucky and put the area on the map alongside other food and beverage destinations.

“There are little boutique hotels and restaurants all over Tuscany, Champagne, Napa, that really highlight the food and beverage offerings of those areas. Bourbon is a huge economic force and there’s no reason we can’t create something similar, authentic in small, thriving Kentucky towns that have so much to offer.

“We won’t be the only players in this space because bourbon is a good bet. My goal is to support our teams with this growth, create the best guest experience we can and encourage those guests to take their time.”

Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]

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