A local businessman soon may add a new spice to downtown Lawrence's historic flavor.
Robert Phillips, president of the Kansas Carriage Company, plans to start a horse-and-buggy business tonight to cart starry-eyed sightseeers and fidgeting first-daters alike through downtown.
However, Phillips may need to jump a few hurdles before the business can settle in for the long term in Lawrence.
The city code currently carries no restrictions for horse-and-carriage businesses. Lawrence city commissioners will consider making rules for such businesses Tuesday.
The meeting will get under way at 6:35 p.m. in the city commission meeting room at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.
Phillips, also general manager of the Eldridge Hotel, 701 Mass., recently bought a carriage and a 14-year-old horse a Belgian named "Patty" for buggy rides in Lawrence at low prices.
"It just seems to be a classy way to add to the ambience of your community, and it's something else for visitors to talk about. Plus it's kind of romantic," he said Thursday.
PHILLIPS plans to begin offering rides tonight with himself in the chauffeur's seat, wearing tux, tails and top hat.
"Oh, we'll play the whole game to the hilt," he said.
Phillips predicted that he would charge $5 per adult for a "short ride" downtown and $10 for a "long ride." He said he hadn't mapped out routes yet, although he knew they would begin at the Eldridge Hotel.
He recently took Patty and the carriage for some test spins around downtown. The carriage did not block or stall traffic, he said.
"There's plenty of room for the carriage to be passed on Massachusetts," he said. "Believe it or not, we've been stopped by traffic. Traffic downtown is a problem whether it's a car or a carriage."
Traffic safety is one aspect of the business that city staff will ask commissioners to examine Tuesday, said Dave Corliss, assistant to the city manager.
"We're obviously new to this," Corliss said. "Our general recommendation is that there be some reasonable and appropriate (regulation) so that the public concerns on traffic safety and sanitation be met."
THE CARE of the horse also is a concern.
"Obviously, the horse should be fed properly, should receive enough rest," he said. "We don't have any reason to believe it won't. We're trying to see if there isn't some appropriate concern that could be addressed before there is a problem."
Phillips said Patty is in good health.
"She is 1,600 pounds. This is not a pony that will get overworked," he said.
Phillips said he eventually may try to work out some carriage routes in historic neighborhoods, such as Old West Lawerence.
"We'd like to go through Old West Lawrence, but we'd work with the people there first to see if we're wanted," he said.