LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Whether checking out the pastries or ordering some Banh Mi, a Vietnamese cuisine, a lot of people are taking notice of one of the newest restaurants on Bardstown Road, Paris Banh Mi.

What You Need To Know

  • Between crime and the coronavirus, 2020 was a tough year for businesses along Bardstown Road in Louisville

  • It's showing signs of life, as several new businesses have opened lately with more set to open soon

  • The city recently expanded the community ambassadors program aimed at improving safety along the busy corridor

  • People who frequent the area said they have noticed the progress along the popular street

“I’m probably going to make it a weekly thing. I came by here when they were building it. They were not open yet, but I saw the sign and thought that’s interesting," said customer Melanie Elarery. "The next time I came, the girl said they had been open for two weeks. I ordered something and the sandwich was like, 'Oh my God.' The drink was to die for”

After spending an afternoon there, it was clear the place is busy more often than not. General manager Mia Nguyen said she thinks that's partly because there's nothing else like this place in Louisville, and partly because of its prime location.

“From the very beginning the boss chose this location for that very reason," said Nguyen. "Every time you think of Louisville, where would you take people to go eat, walk around and play? It’s the Bardstown Road area.”

While this new restaurant is having success, that was not the case for many others in the area during the pandemic.

“It’s a corridor that has had some challenges in recent times and recent years. Some of those are from the pandemic," said councilwoman Cassie Chambers Armstrong. "Some of it is because we hadn’t been investing in updating this really important and really historic corridor.”

In 2020, it was more common to see cloture signs than places open for business. One Bardstown Road business owner even called it a ghost town, saying it reminded him of an old Western movie.

Now, though, you can almost daily find crowds of people out once again.

“I feel like Bardstown Road has turned a corner," Chambers Armstrong said. Her Metro Council district covers the popular street.

The building that had been vacant since Yang Kee Noodle left is now occupied by Maple Street Biscuit Company. A new boutique hotel, the Bellwether, opened recently in the space previously occupied by the Highland Police Station. Those are just a few of many examples Armstrong pointed out.

Councilwoman Chambers Armstrong attributes the growth to several things, including:

  • Spreading the word about available loans and resources available to new businesses,
  • Hosting community events such as the trolley hop this summer to promote dining and shopping in the area, and
  • Spending $1 million in American Rescue Plan funds to expand the community ambassador program aimed at deterring crime

Those ambassadors pick up trash, abate graffiti, check in with business owners and serve as extra eyes in the area with the aim of deterring crime.

“That’s our biggest presence is to make people feel welcome and safe out here,” said community ambassador Treshawn Davis.

Chambers Armstrong said the crime will not go away overnight and there are still some buildings that need to be occupied, but there has been significant progress in the last year.

“I like seeing businesses like this pop up. It does something for the community,” said Elarary.

The city also changed the traffic pattern in 2020, allowing people to park on both sides of a large portion of Baxter and Bardstown Roads. Several Highlands business owners told Spectrum News 1 they think this helped improve traffic at their businesses.