10 questions with Anna and Rachel of The Epping District

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Anna + Rachel were both former nurses before becoming developers. | Photos by Brad Habeeb

This piece is part of our LOUtoday Q+A series. Do you know someone we should interview? Nominate them here.

In 2020, neighbors (and former nurses) Rachel Zink and Anna Sorrell decided to put their design + preservation thinking caps on to develop a business plan aimed at revitalizing a seemingly shuttered portion of the 800 block of East Broadway.

Once home to the Broadway Theatre (1915-1959) and John G. Epping Bottling Works, which operated there for 150+ years, this historic corridor is being transformed into The Epping District.


Anna + Rachel are currently looking for tenants to occupy The Epping District. | Photo by Zayne Isom

Anna + Rachel are currently looking for tenants to occupy The Epping District. | Photo by Zayne Isom

Rachel and Anna’s vision for The Epping District includes finding local businesses to fill the six historical buildings which account for ~70,000-sqft of space on East Broadway. Already moving in is co-working space Launch Louisville, local marketing agency Kertis Creative + Elixir Kombucha plans to open a taphouse. Interested in opening a coffee shop, storefront, or restaurant? Check out these available spaces.

Keep reading to find out more about Rachel + Anna’s favorite historical facts about the block + which restaurant menus they’re taking to a deserted island. Spoiler alert: You might want to be deserted with them.

Describe your perfect day in Louisville in the length of a Tweet (280 characters) or what is your Saturday routine.

Rachel: When I am surrounded by creatives and ideas, especially if there is an opportunity for me to support or lift that concept into reality, I am energized for the future.

Finally, ‘wine’ down on a date night out with my husband to Nam Nam Cafe.

Anna: Sleep in, coffee on our porch, walk to Blue Dog Bakery, a little shopping downtown, hang out with the family at the house during the afternoon, and then finish the day off with dinner and drinks at Monnik with some of our close friends.

Name 3-5 other local leaders, influencers, or movers + shakers you’re watching in Louisville.

Rachel: Stephanie Kertis, Jessica Malloy, Zayne Isom, and Jack Harlow (obviously).

Anna: Bryan Todd, graphic designer, does an amazing job creating the branding for many Louisville businesses. Liz Richter brings so much color to our city with her beautiful murals. Ian Luijk and Brian Holton, creators of Monnik Beer Co. Lettie Johnson, who is an amazing coach and leader in our city.

You can only choose one local restaurant menu to bring with you to a deserted island — which one is it and why?

Rachel: Red Hog. I have never had something there that I didn’t love.

Anna: Can it be from the same owner and therefore I get to pick two? If so, Blue Dog and Red Hog. Good bread is not easy to find in America. I was so happy when I found Blue Dog after moving to Louisville. I’m vegetarian, so Red Hog might seem like a strange pick, but they have amazing drinks, appetizers, and sides.

What were the last 3 things you did locally?

Rachel: I walked to the local library with my three kiddos to get our cultural passes for the season, stopped by The Wine Rack for a fantastic recommendation of a different red wine and then listened to the guitar strumming of a fireman out front of the Louisville Fire Engine Co. 4.

Anna: The walking bridge, Louisville Zoo and Waterfront Wednesday

Who are 2-3 other local leaders you’re inspired by?

Rachel: Andy Blieden because of his unapologetic, authentic way of doing things however he wants to and feels is right. (Also) Lettie Bailey-Johnson because her passion for people is contagious, and I can’t leave a conversation with her without feeling motivated to encourage and spark change in this world, and my parents. They have shown me a way to be calm and still assertive. They’re my first “influencers” that mandated prioritizing valuing your own best version of yourself.

Anna: Hattie Bishop Speed, founder of the Speed Museum. What incredible foresight for a woman living in that era, and of course, Muhammed Ali. He was such an incredible ambassador for this city. Ali stood up for his beliefs despite the consequences.

What is your favorite historical fact or story about the district?

Rachel: There is a tunnel between 716 Logan and 822 E. Broadway streets. Epping Bottling Works used it to move their crates from production to distribution. It is still there, not seamlessly habitable, but, I have gone through as far as I can go and love finding any ode to the past left to be discovered.

Anna: 816 E. Broadway, the former Broadway Theatre, had a demolition permit filed in the 1980’s. Stephen Zink and his father chose to take on this historic building instead, which saved this amazing, incredibly well-built masterpiece from being demolished. The theatre will be the heart of Epping District. Without it, our vision for the district would be difficult to bring to life. The second-floor balcony is where Rachel and I escape to when we need new energy, a reminder of why we are so committed to redeveloping the block.


The Epping District makes up the 800 blocks of East Broadway. | Photo by Zayne Isom

I read that you were born and raised in Louisville. Do you have any memories of this part of Broadway growing up?

Rachel: My first memories of this specific area date back to high school. My boyfriend (and now husband) was working in the warehouse or doing ground maintenance around the block — everything between picking up garbage to selling refurbished furniture.

Seeing firsthand the time commitment, literal blood (as a nursing student in college, he was a patient because of an injury during a clean out of an old building), sweat, tears, devotion and pride that his family has had in the preservation of these buildings was inspiring long before I knew I would be lucky enough to be a part of its redevelopment someday.

Anna: My family has owned a furniture business for many generations. My father has fought to save older buildings earmarked for demolition in my hometown of Winterswijk in the Netherlands. Growing up, I was always surrounded by the modern design world. My father designed and built high-quality modern pieces, but in a way that complimented the surroundings, whether it was an old historic home, warehouse, school building, or a city hall. That magical combination of old historic buildings and modern design has always fascinated me. It’s not easy to find a balance between the two, but I believe striking the perfect harmony between the two (aka “European flair”) is my mission on the block. Europeans have a different lifestyle, this is something you can feel in our environment, we are painfully strategic about where we build and how we build. We choose specific materials, colors, and landscaping. City blocks flow into the next street, block, or park. That’s my role, to ensure that flow, that feeling is present throughout the district.

I also read you have a nursing background. When and what made you make the shift?

Rachel: I was working part-time as a nurse and also trying to be a point of contact for the growing vision of our block on East Broadway. It felt like nothing was moving as quickly as I wanted it to by only devoting half of my time there. When confronted with the complexities of the pandemic and not knowing what childcare and schooling were going to look like for the foreseeable future, I took it as a sign to jump into the development full time. Having the flexibility for my family was key. But, when Anna jumped in, I had a partner in crime to keep me motivated throughout this wild ride.

Anna: I loved being a nurse in the Netherlands and briefly in West Africa, but there has always been that creative side tugging at me as well. Once I became a mom, I wanted to stay home with our kids. Even though I was busy with our young family, I would always somehow stumble into small projects that had to do with interior design, staging, a kitchen remodel or managing properties. I knew that at some point I wanted more, to really go for something big that could add to our city. In August 2020, the opportunity arose after I toured the buildings with Rachel. I realized this was my opportunity, and we got to work.

What’s something that every Louisvillian should know about?

Rachel: Junk days. People put treasures out to be collected by Public Works or, preferably, self-proclaimed junking extraordinaries (like myself) that should never end up in a landfill.

Anna: Dairy Castle on Eastern Parkway, our family loves this place.

What do you think Louisville will be known for in 10 years?

Rachel: Our resiliency and ability to change. We have been through so much in the past few years, and I truly believe we will come out of this as a celebrated diverse, connected community with progressive values that are palpable in every direction of the city.

Anna: I believe that 10 years from now Louisville will be known as a welcoming, friendly and diverse city. With fun neighborhoods to visit full of great shops, amazing food, art, and beautifully restored historic buildings. And hopefully, for the green space and trees downtown.

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