Blind Squirrel & King Louie’s Sports Complex Are Neighboring Venues That Provide Plenty of Entertainment
Writer: Shannon Evanko
Photographer: Bee Buck Photography
According to the city’s website, these are vital tenets of the bustling, lively community of Middletown, KY — living, learning, working and playing. Little do some residents know, they can do all of these things at one unique property right under their noses.
Many residents may not know the properties are related, both owned by Matt Rumpke, well-known in the Louisville community for his hand in Rumpke Waste & Recycling. Rumpke has been developing these sites for the past five years, and they have been thriving under the care of his business partners. Rumpke attributes much of his success to his partners — Eric Hillard of Blind Squirrel and Mike Havill of King Louie’s.
The quirky name, Blind Squirrel, comes from a phrase Rumpke’s friends teased him with when he married his wife, Kathy—“even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then.” Little did Rumpke know, the phrase would become the moniker for one of his greatest business ventures.
Blind Squirrel boasts upscale pub food with gourmet burgers and a huge selection of appetizers to attract individuals from King Louie’s and the surrounding community. They have something for everyone, from patrons of sports teams to parents who love live music. Their sports bar includes two 15 x 11 ft. TVs and 23 other large TVs scattered around the facility.
“We want people to feel like they’re on vacation with the restaurant, from our beautiful patio and beach vibe with three beach volleyball courts to our warm fire pit,” Hillard says. “When weather allows, we put one of our many musicians on the patio for everyone to enjoy.”
As a hub for entertainment on the east side of Louisville, Blind Squirrel hosts leagues on their three volleyball courts almost every night, even offering a heated tent for winter leagues.
Rumpke, a Middletown native, is proud that it has become local hangout for people of Middletown, saying its party room is used by many locals to celebrate big occasions. The party room has two levels with its own bar, private restrooms and balcony.
“We’ve become the place for live music on the east side of town, and for sports as well. We’re the only ones doing that on this side of town,” Rumpke says.
The development of this property began with King Louie’s Sports Complex when Rumpke saw a lack of sports facilities on the east side of town. With children of his own interested in sports, he wanted to build a sports facility to fill that need. As the complex developed and he spoke with more parents and patrons of King Louie’s, he noticed there was no live music locally, either, and thought Middletown residents shouldn’t have to travel into the Highlands to see great live music.
Thus, Blind Squirrel became a great compliment to King Louie’s. Rumpke, Hillard and Havill say they have been amazed with the overlap of patrons between the properties. Many parents drop their kids off at King Louie’s to play sports while they enjoy some food and games at the Blind Squirrel until it’s time for pick-up. It’s the winning combination that the Middletown community sorely needed.
According to Havill, King Louie’s Sports Complex offers a myriad of options, including one-on-one coaching, small group training and different competitive leagues. King Louie’s is trying to be everything someone could possibly be looking for to develop their skills and seize opportunities.
“We want to be the home for lacrosse and field hockey, especially,” Havill says.
They offer programming that caters to everybody’s needs and are affiliated with a handful of organizations and groups like L4 lacrosse (based out of King Louie’s full-time), which does individual and small group training. Additionally, Edge Sports Performance maintains a dedicated 3,000 square feet of the facility to work with high schools in the area, D1 collegiate athletes and kids. Pro Rehab is their preferred sports medicine partner with a clinic at King Louie’s, as well.
“Anyone who is looking to become better at their sport or have competitive opportunities in their sport — we offer that,” Havill says.
King Louie’s provides local schools like Eastern High School with fundraising opportunities, free clinics and more to benefit the community. Their hours are fluid due to the nature of sporting activities and are based on current programs for the week. As a 24/7, 365 business, they often stay open late to complete different activities.
One of the biggest draws to the property near and far is that everything is first class. The facilities feel brand new because of how well they’re maintained, from the volleyball courts surrounded by an amphitheater to the full-sized, outdoor synthetic turf field. They are committed to keeping everything updated to make sure customers have a first-class experience.
“People from out of town ask if we’d take the time to create something like this in their area, telling us it doesn’t really exist elsewhere. There’s a lot of synergies you can create with an indoor/outdoor facility in the same site,” Havill says.
What’s the key to the success of these local ventures? Rumpke says he leaves all the leg-work to his partners, sitting down with Hillard and Havill to talk about big-picture financials and make sure things are going well. His partners make all of the day-to-day decisions regarding facilities.
“My management philosophy is to surround yourself with good people in order to make yourself look smart,” Rumpke says.
So far, that philosophy is paying off in spades for Rumpke. While his current property is maxed-out with the addition of two volleyball courts coming soon, Rumpke hopes to look at surrounding properties for future expansion.
“Matt trusts the people he hires to do a good job and gives us the resources to do it. So far, it’s been very successful,” Havill says.
The Middletown community can enjoy King Louie’s facility any day of the week, based on current activities, and they can visit Blind Squirrel Monday, 4-11 p.m., Tues.-Thurs.,11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11-1 a.m. and Sun. 12-11 p.m.