Archive for Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Krauses seek consent for home cooking

Fine-dining restaurant owners propose zoning change for East Lawrence property

August 15, 2006


Robert and Molly Krause already have the kitchen, garden room and high-end clientele.

Now they need the city's permission to resume their reservation-only, fine-dining business once again at their east Lawrence home, 917 Del.

"We want to stay in Lawrence," Molly Krause said. "That's our main objective. That's what we're trying to do."

To do so, the Krauses will need to negotiate a City Hall bureaucracy that they've run afoul of previously, and a neighborhood whose residents already are facing other proposed land-use changes.

Last summer city inspectors shut down the couple's Krause Dining operation at the Delaware Street house, saying it was a commercial business operating in a residential district.

Now, after more than a year of trying to make other arrangements, the Krauses are asking the city to grant their home the zoning designation - Inner-Neighborhood Commercial - that they need to serve up meals 30 at a time as often as seven days a week.

The formal process starts at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, when the Krauses' plan faces review from the Historic Resources Commission at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets. The plan goes to the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission on Aug. 23.

Robert and Molly Krause are hoping to reopen their fine-dining business in their home at 917 Del. The Krauses are asking city officials to rezone the property from residential to Inner-Neighborhood Commercial. Their business, Krause Dining, was closed last summer after a city inspection revealed the "commercial" nature of the business.

Robert and Molly Krause are hoping to reopen their fine-dining business in their home at 917 Del. The Krauses are asking city officials to rezone the property from residential to Inner-Neighborhood Commercial. Their business, Krause Dining, was closed last summer after a city inspection revealed the "commercial" nature of the business.

"We're a small-town, family-based business that is unique to Lawrence, and we really hope to stay in Lawrence," Molly Krause said. "We feel like we have a chance, or we wouldn't be doing this. We have wonderful customer support, so we feel real good about that."

Others aren't as welcoming.

"I have qualms about the system rewarding illegal behavior, which is basically what this is," said Janet Good, president of the East Lawrence Neighborhood Assn. "He got caught, or he would still be doing this illegally. I have issues with the whole thing."

But the neighborhood itself officially has no issue with the project, at least for now. In May, members attending an association business meeting voted not to oppose the Krauses' application for rezoning.

That soon could change.

The association's board has called an emergency meeting for Wednesday night, to discuss the Krause plan in light of concerns about another project in the neighborhood: Bo Harris' plan to redevelop industrial buildings in the 900 block of Pennsylvania into shops, offices and residences.

"He's got a great set up," Good said of Robert Krause. "He lives there. He works there. Everybody would do that if they could, but it's not appropriate for all jobs. And this property is not zoned for this. :

"A lot of people feel we need to hold the line - and not allow any more nonresidential zoning - and protect the single-family residential character of the neighborhood."

The Krauses, meanwhile, continue to live in the home that has a history of its own. The place was built in the late 1800s and served as a boarding house for years.

Dan Rockhill, an architecture professor at Kansas University, renovated the home. The Krauses bought the place in 2000, when Robert Krause relocated to Lawrence after working in fine-dining restaurants in San Francisco and decided to open his own catering operation.

In 2002, the Krauses hired Rockhill to do more renovations and build a garden room in the backyard. The $200,000 project allowed the Krauses to accommodate up to 30 diners a night, each spending an average of $100 a plate for food and drink.

City inspectors ordered the place closed after an inspection revealed the "commercial" nature of the business. The Krauses then relocated temporarily to 811 N.H., where their yearlong lease expired June 30. Other plans to open a commercial restaurant - first in Harris' redevelopment project, then to revamp a vacant building at 1040 Vt. - never materialized.

So the Krauses are back trying to work from home, with no specific options lined up should the Delaware Street plan fizzle out, too.

"We don't really have a clear plan of what's next, honestly," Molly Krause said. "It's a great structure, and it's unique, too. It's a space that we really want to hang on to."


kef104 11 years, 9 months ago

Let's see, a bus depot on one side, a bar behind them, and Allen Press accross the street. He has upgraded the house in a neighborhood needing improvements (more property tax), has plenty of parking, and has small numbers of clients at any given time.

Also, his clients are not loud, roudy, or causing any neighborhood problems. His business generates taxes, employs others, and adds to the city's reputation supporting artists (his meals are truely artistic creations).

Additionally, most of his customers are from the KC metro area, and the more "high end" traffic we receive from KC the better. It never hurts to have people with money travel to Lawrence to spend it.

The alternative would have the Krauses relocating to KC and Lawrence loses a unique dining experience that it should foster. Krauses is by far the best dining experience in Lawrence and among the finest in the country. People should drive by his house to see the neighborhood. I cannot imagine anyone thinking it would be a problem to rezone.

Scott Tichenor 11 years, 9 months ago

What a disappointing move the East Lawrence Neighborhoold Association appears to be readying themselves to make.

I was at the meeting where approximately 23 of the 25 in attendance indicated their support for the Krause's plan. The only person that really is against it wasn't even in attendance but was represented by another individual.

Now, it appears we're ready to punish the Krause's and their children because a big developer has plans down the street. People sat right in that meeting and showed the Krause's their support, along with myself. My vote isn't changing, but it appears this meeting has been called to try to turn that over. What's right in this? Little to my eye.

What was said above is true. You can get away with having a dump at the corner of 11th and New Hampshire, and you can be a prominent attorney about town slum lording the neighborhood, but if you're honest and pay taxes, you're out of luck.

J Good Good 11 years, 9 months ago

If he had followed the rules in the first place he would not have this problem at this point. Make your life easier, put a restaurant where it is allowed by zoning like everyone else has to.

Krause was not on the published agenda for the public meeting and brought some supporters with him. The board should not have taken a vote until it was on a published agenda (our mistake). We have heard from many neighbors since then who feel that they did not have an opportunity to voice their concerns. The vote that was taken still stands, but we have to balance the concerns of other neighbors as well.

Scott Tichenor 11 years, 9 months ago

I was the only person who came with them that evening in support of them. If that's the definition of "some supporters" then so be it. I'll be there tomorrow night as well, but my vote won't be changing. Will yours?

Wilbur_Nether 11 years, 9 months ago

Can anyone explain for me the rationale behind why cities have zoning laws?

not_dolph 11 years, 9 months ago

If JANET knew what was GOOD for the east lawrence neighborhood, she would be helping the Krause's preserve their unique dining experience in lawrence. Marion, Kef and Nugget are all correct. Robert has traveled extensively to perfect his talent and employs young up and coming shining stars. There is not a dining experience around that can compare.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

All things considered, the rezoning of this property should be approved. But the Krauses ought to pay some sort of penalty for their hubris-- how about catering the next E. Lawrence picnic?

dljlwalker 11 years, 9 months ago

I live in Dallas and frequent its top end restaurants and Krause beats them hands down. I would kill to have the experience of Dining with the Krasues in his Historic Home.

not_dolph 11 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Diver - Not sure what your point is since the same types of delivery trucks are pulling down the same alley to service Charlie's East Side Bar. And the description for said bar on indicates that "Charlie's plays host to a cast of regulars." Sounds alot like Krause's, they play host to a cast of regulars. Much to your dismay and anticipated criticism - I live in an upscale neighborhood and would welcome having an establishment like Krause's next door. Why do you have to pick on a business because of its location. Again, you are missing the entire point. Oh, and no discounts are offered...period. Our servicemen and women are protecting the rights of all americans, not just the self-centered, neo-fascists you claim. And since I have a little brother over there right now, I don't appreciate you playing the "service" card to draw the discussion of point.

kef104 11 years, 9 months ago


I would be thrilled to have Robert, Molly, and their family as next door neighbors. They are wonderful people and their business operations are not a distraction. Also, he does not run a 7 day schedule, preferring to keep his catering business to a 4 day work week while allowing for some special events on non normal business days.

As for parking, you are correct, his house does not have a parking lot. However, due to the industrial nature of that end of the neighborhood, available parking is well in excess of what the Krauses would ever utilize and no neighbors would ever have a lack of parking in front of their own homes.

As for your apparent military pride, it is a shame you are so spiteful to feel the need to imply others do not share your respect for those serving our country in far less than ideal circumstances.

I do not know if the Krauses offer discounts to anyone but I do know that they have served on missions and have spent several weeks this summer in New York serving meals to volunteers of some charity. I do not remember which charity it is but I am sure they would tell you if asked. The important point is that they are generous, kind people who strive to be considerate of others.

not_dolph 11 years, 9 months ago

Nice job kef. They have performed similar service in the San Fran are for the same organization. Are there any updates based on action that occurred at the Historical Resources Meeting today?

not_dolph 11 years, 9 months ago

$100 - which includes wine pairings of course. Probably should be more than $100 - maybe they should raise the price?

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