Business to bring specialty drink, jobs to Portland neighborhood - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Business to bring specialty drink, jobs to Louisville neighborhood

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Hillbilly Tea will open in the old Portland firehouse. Hillbilly Tea will open in the old Portland firehouse.
William Duke William Duke
Developer Gregg Rochman Developer Gregg Rochman
Karter Louis Karter Louis

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Portland neighborhood is starting to see some positive changes after years of neglect. Investors and business owners are noticing the trend and want in on the action.

"This is home to me," William Duke said with a chuckle. For 44 years Duke has lived in the Portland neighborhood but said it has changed.

"It was just a beautiful neighborhood. I wouldn't trade it for nothing. For nothing," he said.

Duke still holds hopes Portland will prosper.

"We may be the jewel in the rough," he said. "Maybe we'll shine again, you know? Who knows? Hopefully so."

It's not just Duke that's looking beyond the neglect the neighborhood has suffered through the years.

"I see a lot of opportunity, I see a lot of potential, I see a lot of history," Developer Gregg Rochman said.

Rochman and his partners have brought several buildings in the area to life.

"It took a while I think to convince the neighborhood folks that we were serious and that we were here to do good, but they know now and it's really exciting," Rochman said.

Now interest from businesses is pouring in. Hillbilly Tea is counting down until they open the doors of their new location.

"This is the old firehouse in Portland," Karter Louis said of the restaurant's new location.

Louis explained his vision for the space which he would like to keep open and inviting. He said Portland drew him in.

"I kind of thought, 'Wow, I can be part of the solution' because when I lived down here there was nothing. And so instead of just running away, I should just come back," Louis said.

Duke welcomes his future neighbors, hoping his teenage son will benefit too.

"That may be a new future job for him," Duke said. "You never know though."

The Portland Hillbilly Tea hopes to be open by late summer.

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