The Palm Room reopens in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood after METCO program loan

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville Forward Chief Mary Ellen Wiederwohl and Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith today joined owner Marcus Withers to cut the ribbon on The Palm Room, a lounge featuring food and live blues, soul and R&B music. The Palm Room opened last week at the site of the historic Joe’s Palm Room, 1821 West Jefferson Street.

Joe’s Palm Room was a landmark in the Russell neighborhood and for decades served as a gathering place where the community came together to listen to live music and have a good time before ultimately closing.

Prior to opening, The Palm Room property underwent more than $470,000 in renovations, made possible in part by two loans, totaling $284,087, awarded through the city’s METCO loan program. The program provides low-interest loans to entrepreneurs and small business owners for working capital, façade improvements, building renovation, gap financing, accessibility improvements and more.

“Through the METCO loan program, the city can help entrepreneurs breathe new life into vacant buildings and grow their businesses. We are excited that The Palm Room was able to take advantage of this program to renovate and reinvent this important Russell landmark,” Wiederwohl said. “Congratulations to Marcus on his hard work for bringing this wonderful tradition back to life.”

Withers used the two METCO loans to help pay for façade improvements to the building, as well as interior renovations, and says he is “thrilled to be able to reopen the historic Palm Room to the community.”

“When I first acquired the property, I wasn’t sure of its future. The original Joe’s Palm Room opened in 1967 and served as a pillar for Louisville’s African American community. After doing some research on the original owner, Mr. Hammond and what he stood for, I decided to renovate the building and bring it back to life,” said Withers. “Through working with the city and its METCO loan program, I was able to easily navigate the entire process which helped us bring back this staple to the Russell community. I’d like to thank the METCO team for their commitment to this project and would highly recommend this program to local entrepreneurs.”

Withers added that “business has been great, and we are complying with COVID-19 restrictions. Thank you to the community for welcoming back The Palm Room.”

Since 2015, Louisville Metro has awarded nearly $10.2 million in METCO loans, with $2.17 million going to West Louisville businesses.

“Investing in disadvantaged neighborhoods is exactly what we need to be doing, and the reopening of the former Joe’s Palm Room on West Jefferson Street is a great example of public private partnership,” said Councilwoman Sexton Smith, D-4.

Learn more about the METCO Loan program and the variety of loans available to small businesses at https://louisvilleky.gov/government/louisville-forward/local-loan-programs.