"I used to have two construction companies and then the economy went bad. A friend of mine owned this building and it used to be Screaming Eagles and the Elks Club. I was looking around for something so I wouldn't sink and I knew that when the situation is bad that people are going to drink, regardless. I was either gonna get me a liquor store or this building. The man offered to sell me this whole building and I knew I could work with it because all of my friends do construction. So, we came in here and got it together. I seen Louisville growing and I didn’t want to be just a Band-Aid. So, I wanted this to be a cornerstone. I reached out and tried to buy this old junkyard, back here. I bought it and got it cleaned up and created more parking spots. Then, we just kept on woking to get it where it is, now.
I hate when they say that there’s nothing west of 9th Street. My opinion is that when people leave their jobs and go home, there’s nothing that draws them out here. Then if you look at the weekend, you’ve got the whole damn state of Kentucky down here. So, Cole’s is like a magnet. This is probably the only spot that you can cater to the whole city. We got a stigma because we’re in the West End. If this place was somewhere else, the stigma wouldn’t be on us. No matter what, it’s Cole’s. I take the negative and try to make a positive out of it. What you see on TV can either make you or break you. They really don’t research the truth, but deal with the situation by what they hear. So, if something happens down the street and they can’t get to it, they’ll park right in front of my place and put their cameras on it, so everybody can see Cole’s. They’ll do it even if we’re not open. But if something happens here, people will think that we’re bad. Yet, we have more security, metal detectors, police and bouncers. So, I took that and ran with it. We are probably the only place that lets people use the building after funeral gatherings, baby showers and anything else. If people need a hall, they can use Cole’s.
Really, the West End is like it’s own little entity, it’s own little city. I told the Mayor that if you look down here after nine o’clock, it’s just us and Mr. Jerry, cooking in that trailer. We’re in Louisville but we ain’t. You come from Market to Algonquin, we’re just existing. They ain’t really putting anything down here. I’m 60 years old, now, and 28th Street has been the same since the riot. Think about it, they don’t want us on Bardstown Road. When you do go down there, it’s nice. They got nice lights and it looks like a whole different atmosphere. We’re trying to generate that around here and give people a nice little spot to come to. Everybody respects each other here.
I always worked with kids, you know with the Flaget Rams. My son was six years old when I was the president of the Rams organization. As time progressed, those kids are adults, now. The kids out here in the streets, aren’t bad but in a situation. They know me. If they don’t know me, they know my sisters, because they’re all school teachers. If they don’t know them, they know my son because he coaches them. We’re a product and affiliation of the hood. We are the product. That’s why we all respect each other. That’s how we got to be where we’re at. My goal is to do more for the kids aged fourteen and down, so we can bring more awareness. All the other stuff, I can’t control it but I’m working with the kids. These kids are going to be good kids.
We’re fortunate enough to have our concerts. What I do is if I make a dollar, I’ll fifty cents in the product, which is this place. We just kept on growing and growing and put it back into the place. We wouldn’t just squeeze the lemon until it’s dry, we kept the lemon juicy. That’s how we roll with it. I know if I were to sell this, the West End would be dead. Somebody would change the whole scene and atmosphere. I fixed this place so that you can come here after work, get you a drink and hang out. It’s more like you’re going to somebody’s basement and hanging out with your friends. Now, you come in here on Sundays, it’s all older people. If you drive up here on Sunday’s there’s people that are ninety years old in here. It’s old school Sunday. We give them a free buffet and they’re in here jamming. The young one don’t dance with each other, but on Sundays the older ones are out here dancing. They’re doing their thing. We cater to everybody. We’re a community oriented club.
Cole’s is going to be here like Ford. We got a lot of people depending on this place. It’s not just us but we have others living off this like the bartenders, waitresses, and the police. If we don’t do this, west of 9th Street will be dead. We have more volume than anybody. We gotta concert Sunday night and then on Monday, we’ll have a celebration. We honor everything and respect everything. This is a long term thing, so I’m gonna be here forever. I was born down here and I’ll be planted down here.
Research your place. When you market yourself, you want to be where your people are comfortable and don’t have to worry about anything. We’re right here. There’s a lot of money in the West End. The stereotypes about us is that we don’t know how to act, we’re this and that. We’re just as intelligent as the next man. You know, it’s just that shit happens.
We need to vote. We need to gather together when the elections come up. Our voices need to be heard. We need to get together and say, ‘Look, ya’ll putting money in Portland, Downtown, and everywhere. But this little square, in the West End, there’s nothing going down’. They’re going to say, ‘Well, we tried to put a Wal-Mart down there but it’s didn’t happen’. That’s just one thing. They’re always gonna say that they’ve tried. If they tried, they could get anything they want done. It’s just that they don’t care. With the elections coming up, we need to put our foot down. Our officials will ride down here but won’t do nothing down here. The mayor’s cool, I like him, but it’s time to do something.
You can talk to people and create a panel and discuss things that we need to do. Get people together and meet once a month. I hate meetings. I don’t want to meet every week, but once a month, I’ll go. We can invite them down here and they can sit in on it. Reach out to the people and do what you gotta do.
Deal with scenario and situations. Whenever you try anything, it seems like something will go wrong. It’s never gonna go as you intend. It might flip flop but you have to deal with the situation. ” - Mr. Cole, Owner of Cole’s Place, Parkland