Kansas University alumni living in the Kansas City area don't have to travel too far anymore to reminisce about the Lawrence nightlife they once enjoyed.
The owners of Johnny's tavern, a North Lawrence watering hole for KU students, are finding their new location in Overland Park is attracting a good following.
"We've been here for eight months and we are leveling out and already making a profit," said Louie Riederer, one of the owners of the the new Johnny's tavern, 6765 W. 119th. "That is good for the first year in business. At least we're paying our bills on time."
Riederer said he and his partners are leasing about 5,800 square feet of space for their Johnson County tavern.
That compares with the 7,500-square-foot building they own in Lawrence at 401 N. Second, which contains Johnny's tavern, the Up and Under bar-restaurant and Betty's, which is a patio side room.
The partners also own Johnny's Classic Burgers, at 901 Ill., a hamburger-drive through restaurant in a 1,000-square-foot building.
RIEDERER said that for several years he and his partners had considered opening a Kansas City-area bar-restaurant similar to the original Johnny's.
"We've had real good luck in Lawrence and have done well with the KU students," Riederer said. "There's a large number of KU graduates living in Johnson County.
Riederer said the partners also looked at the Kansas City area because they didn't think the market would allow them to open a second location in Lawrence, "but our heart is still in Lawrence."
He said that's evident by the decorations on the walls of the new establishment.
"We've got hundreds of KU photographs all over the wall," he said. "It's definitely a KU and Lawrence bar. Everybody comments on that when they come in."
RIEDERER said he, Doug Hassig and Rick Renfro own the location in Lawrence and also are part owners in the new business, along with Pat Roberts. Roberts and Riederer are running the Overland Park location, while Renfro and Hassig oversee the Lawrence operation.
Riederer, Renfro and Hassig have operated Johnny's in Lawrence for 13 years. Because of the popularity of Johnny's hamburgers, they opened the drive-through restaurant in November 1988.
Riederer said the North Lawrence bar-restaurant also has grown during the years.
"When we originally bought Johnny's there was just the bar," he said. "We added the Up and Under in 1982 and in 1989 added the side room, called Betty's, which has a patio outside."