Local food, local feel at Louisville International Airport - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Local food, local feel at Louisville International Airport

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Even the flooring features local symbols, like jockey silks and fleurs de lis Even the flooring features local symbols, like jockey silks and fleurs de lis

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - The Louisville International Airport is celebrating new retail shops and restaurants. It is part of a major transformation at the airport, which includes a more "local" feel.

From the big names of Kentucky, like Kentucky Fried Chicken, to the local favorites like The Comfy Cow Ice Cream and Coal's Artisan Pizza, travelers have a variety of food to choose from.

"These are the kinds of things that make Louisville unique and different and we want to showcase those things," said Jim Welch, Airport Authority Board chair.

Over the past year, the airport has undergone a $10 million facelift which included new carpeting and artwork. Even the flooring has touches of Louisville. One pattern includes the fleur de lis prints, Slugger bats and jockey silks and hats.

"I hear people just enjoy the lightness, it's fresher and cleaner, they definitely prefer the floors, not only because of the design that incorporates it, but frankly it's easier to roll a rollerbag over it," said Welch.

New shops have also been added, like Brighton and Finish Line, a Louisville Slugger Shop, Kentucky Bourbon Trail, the NBC Travel Store, CNBC News Express and Brooks Brothers. 

Thursday, airport officials focused on celebrating the 11 new restaurants at the airport with a ribbon cutting. Vendors invested more than $8 million in the retail and food experience at the airport.

Other restaurants include a Smashburger, an updated Chili's Bar & Grill, Starbucks Evenings, Farmers Market, and Book & Bourbon Southern Kitchen. "Let's face it, bourbonism is a big thing," said Welch. "Half of the passengers of the 3.5 million passengers that come through here every year are tourists, and a lot of them are coming to do the bourbon tours, have the bourbon experience," said Welch.

The Bourbon Academy Tasting Room opens next month just before Derby. "It's almost like a private airport lounge except they're doing private bourbon tastings constantly there," said Welch.

For tourists wanting to get a taste of bourbon, or a taste of Louisville, the airport may be their first stop for it.

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