Over the past year Louisville, KY’s once-average food scene has become a hotbed for good eats, thanks to a slew of new restaurants opening. Louisville natives Ryan Rogers and Andrew McCabe have been a major part of the local culinary movement thanks to their fast casual and sit-down dining restaurants.
Although they both primarily grew up in Kentucky, Ryan and Andy didn’t meet until they both moved back to the city as adults, following stints in New York and Chicago respectively. As two guys of similar age who were into cooking, it was only natural that the two ran in the same circles. Once they finally had a conversation, they realized that they shared similar food philosophies and friendship was born.
The dynamic duo graduated from friends to partners when Ryan opened the second location of Feast BBQ and was able to convince Andrew to come work with him. From there they opened Royal’s Hot Chicken, where McCabe came up with a number of the recipes.
Ryan and Andy’s latest foray into the culinary space under HiCotton Hospitality has truly taken Louisville by storm. Bar Vetti is an Italian x Southern hybrid was launched in late 2017 and in just a few months it has become the top spot in the cities burgeoning culinary scene.
Located on the edge of Old Town Louisville, the duo opened the restaurant with the purpose of bringing cuisine and food to Louisville that many people hadn’t experienced before locally.
With their return to their fine dining roots, they also became pioneers of a sort. Before Bar Vetti, the area between the central business district and Old Louisville was essentially a no man’s land for restaurants. Seeing a hole in the Louisville food scene where no one was doing fresh pasta in town, nor presenting a menu that changed with the seasons utilizing fresh produce from local farms, Ryan and Andrew saw a creative opportunity—an Italian restaurant with a focus on ingredients that are native to their area. In Italy, regional aspects are clearly highlighted in cuisine, and for Bar Vetti, that region just happens to be Louisville, Kentucky.
This focus on locally sourced ingredients and regional pride is what drew the two to Mountain Valley Spring Water. It simply didn’t make sense to import San Pellegrino water from Italy, knowing there’s something genuinely wonderful not far from home.
The hyperlocal vibe of Bar Vetti also translates to the menu. When asked what his favorite item is on the menu, Ryan immediately mentioned the country sausage pizza. Instead of using typical Italian sausage, Bar Vetti sources their sausage from Jake’s 150 Quick Stop, a small gas station located in Bardstown, Kentucky that’s famous for their delicious country sausage. These are the small details that make Bar Vetti such a wonderful locally focused place to eat.
Pizza is a naturally a big part of the dishes Andrew McCabe makes, so the right water is an imperative part of his kitchen. When visiting Bar Vetti, the guys make sure the right water is part of their patrons' experience as well. “When speaking specifically about Mountain Valley, it just completes the dining experience,” says Ryan. “If you’re going to have a true dining experience in the Italian sense, you have to have the bottled water. Specifically, the sparkling water, because it’s such a great palate cleanser.”
There is no slowing down in sight for Andrew and Ryan’s empire. They are opening a new location for Feast BBQ this summer and plan to continue to grow the business and bring eyes to Louisville’s flourishing restaurant community. Ryan says, “we don’t want to do any restaurants where it’s a TGI Friday’s, we want people to come in and say ‘wow, I wish I had this in New York or Chicago or wherever I live.’”