Free Food and Entrepreneurs Go Together at Gatton Oct. 28

Posted: March 27, 2018

Beginning next week, the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship and the Lexington Office of the Kentucky Innovation Network, part of the the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics, will be launching a series of events called the “Entrepreneurship Hour.” This series will include a full hour of local guest entrepreneurs who have firsthand experience with the success and struggles of launching a new start-up venture.

This Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. in Room 299 of the new Gatton College building, the first “Entrepreneurship Hour” will feature four local entrepreneurs with successful businesses in the food industry.

Ilias Pappas, a native of Greece, is a graduate of UK, where he studied hospitality management. The founder of Athenian Grill envisioned partnering local farms and businesses to bring fresh, authentic Greek food to Lexington.

Cynthia Bohn helped pioneer the rebirth of the Kentucky wine industry by starting the Kentucky Wine and Grape Council in the early 1990's. She launched an agritourism business with the start of a vineyard and winery in 1998 in Midway. Equus Run's winery is open year round as a full-service winery and agritourism destination.

Todd Purnell is president of "Old Folks" Sausage, a family business started in 1944. The company has expanded to become a major distributor of sausage to approximately one half of the U.S., as well to Mexico. "Old Folks" Sausage operates out of a plant located in Simpsonville.

Since the summer of 2009, Lesme Romero and his partner, Reinaldo, have been making fresh pasta to satisfy people in central Kentucky. Lexington Pasta has grown to include the Lexington Pasta Shop, the Lexington Pasta Company, and the Lexington Pasta Garage Italian Café. Their products have become vital ingredients in recipe books for a number of restaurants in the greater Lexington area and on the shelves of grocery stores.

The event is open to all UK students, faculty, staff and community members. Free food will be provided by Athenian Grill and the Lexington Pasta Garage Café.

Register for this event at:

"This is a wonderful opportunity to engage with successful Kentucky business owners in a fun and relaxed setting," said Dean Harvey, executive director of the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship.  

This event is made possible through a partnership with the Von Allmen Center, the Bluegrass Small Business Development Center, and the UK Food Systems Innovation Center.

"Our goal with the series is to connect UK students and community members to entrepreneurship," said Marian Gorjian, research harvester at the Von Allmen Center. "We hope that attendees will invite their peers, friends, and faculty advisors. Ultimately, we want to stimulate an ecosystem throughout UK which fosters engagement with successful startups, mentors, and business leaders. This is one of several strategies we have for Venture Studio, our brand new creative and collaborative space for entrepreneurial learning, growth and innovation on the first floor of the new Gatton building. We are excited about developing future programs and events.”

For more about Venture Studio and The Von Allmen Center, visit