I tell the majority of the folks that I sit down with to interview for these local entrepreneur profiles that one of the main inspirations for the series is the fact that, in many discussions with business people around the area, I kept hearing a repeating theme of how bad business was, or how down the economy is, and that I honestly just go sick of hearing it. So I decided to seek out positive stories of people who were opening businesses in the current economy, or who were having business success while everyone else was talking about the sky falling. I have found that negative attracts negative and positive attracts positive, and so when I was contacted by Ellen Hale, Daughter of John and Vicki Hale, owners of Lotsa Pasta about them celebrating their 30th year in business, I took it as a sign that it was worthy of writing about.
Ellen, who currently lives out of town, and I exchanged several emails over which she shared with me some of the history of the business, and I could feel pride and excitement in her words as her family prepares for this milestone. Lotsa Pasta was opened on March 4th, 1982 by John and Vicki when they were in their mid-20's, and, at the time, only dating. A major investment in time and resources for anybody, much less a couple of twenty-year-olds, they put everything they had into opening the business, even borrowing a small amount from Vicki's Father (which Ellen made sure to point out was paid back in full). Married in August of that same year, John and Vicki ran the store themselves for the first two years until they could afford to hire their first employee who, it turns out, worked for them for almost 25 years and is still a family friend to this day.
Ellen explained that her Father had always told her stories of how he knew from the time he was a young boy that he wanted to own his own business someday, and after working for a local wine and cheese company as a young adult discovered what he felt was his calling....quality food. Lotsa Pasta started as a place where people could get fresh pasta here in Louisville because, at the time, there were no other stores making their own. They have since expanded, not only from their original location on Bardstown Road to their current Lexington Road location, but also into an international food store. Now in addition to pasta you can get cheeses, meats, oils, spices, to-go lunches, and so much more as they continue growing.
Just from talking to Ellen one of the things that I took away, and that I REALLY like about this business, is the fact that they still consider themselves a mom & pop type of establishment and really value their customers, many of whom have been shopping there since the beginning. I'm not very old, but when I was growing up we would go out to my Grandma and Grandpa's house in New Haven, Kentucky and there was this small store right next door to their house. As kids we would go over there and get ice cream, candy, soda, etc., and the feeling that I always got when I was there was one of being welcomed. People knew each other by name, everyone spoke to each other and chatted about their going-ons, and you genuinely felt like they appreciated your business. I find that commendable in business today, and it's never a surprise to me when I hear of a business ran that way that is successful. I feel fairly certain in saying that's why Lotsa Pasta has been around for 30 years, and even more certain in saying that's why they will continue to have success. If you're out and about, stop by this week and say "congratulations" to them on their milestone, ask for John or Vicki and chat with them about food for a few minutes...something tells me they won't mind.
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