Archive for Friday, November 10, 2006

Lunch turns into $150 meal

Tow company patrols shopping center lot, looking for offenders

November 10, 2006


A $150 lunch can be tough to swallow.

But that's what some patrons of Panera Bread, 520 W. 23rd St., have been forced to do recently. The Journal-World has received numerous reports from patrons of the restaurant that their vehicles have been towed because they parked on the wrong side of a single curb that separates Panera from the adjacent Louisiana Purchase shopping center.

"At first, I thought I had forgotten where I parked my car," said Toni Brou, who had her car towed last week and had to pay $150 to get it released from the lot of Bulldog Tow. "I was incredulous when someone finally came out of one of the shops and told me it had been towed."

The Louisiana Purchase Shopping Center has about 10 signs that alert drivers that they must be shopping at one of the center's stores to park there. It lists the eight businesses that make up the center. Neither Panera, nor any of the businesses directly west of Panera, are on the list.

But Brou said the situation is very confusing because the Panera shopping center and the Louisiana Purchase shopping center share a driveway off of 23rd Street. Brou admits that she didn't fully read the sign because she thought it was a sign designed to alert car-poolers and other people that they couldn't leave their vehicles there unless they were actually shopping in the center.

"I was certain Panera was part of the shopping center," Brou said. "I mean it all looks like one parking lot."

A parking sign warns drivers where to park for specific stores at Louisiana Purchase, a shopping center at 23rd and Louisiana streets.  Several shoppers have had their vehicles towed from the parking lot.

A parking sign warns drivers where to park for specific stores at Louisiana Purchase, a shopping center at 23rd and Louisiana streets. Several shoppers have had their vehicles towed from the parking lot.

Murl Westheffer, the property manager for Louisiana Purchase, said he's sorry people are getting towed, but he has to do something to protect the shopping center. The center includes three restaurants: Schlotzsky's, Papa John's Pizza and Scarlet Orchid. His three restaurants pay for the parking spaces on the Louisiana Purchase side, while Panera does not.

"They were losing out on some of their parking spaces due to overflow from next door," Westheffer said. "Quite frankly, I was going to lose a couple of tenants if we didn't get this rectified."

The towing started about a week ago, although Westheffer said he's tried to work with the adjacent property owner for about a year. The towing has been pretty aggressive at times. Westheffer admitted that employees from Bulldog Tow are allowed to patrol the lot and watch for people who are entering stores outside the Louisiana Purchase Shopping Center.

"What's going on is absurd, but unfortunately there's nothing we can do about it," said Eric Cole, who operates the Panera Bread franchise in the area. "It just seems to be petty."

Panera leases its site. Attempts to reach the owner of the Panera shopping center were unsuccessful.

Some tenants of Louisiana Purchase are not happy about the new policy, even though it is designed to protect their parking.

Watch 6News video report

"For our business, we like the traffic," said Hai Tran, an owner of Nail Expressions. "It could end up hurting business because if you get a $150 tow bill, they probably aren't coming back here."

Brou said that's exactly right.

"I'm not going anywhere near that area anymore," said Brou, who is a single mother of two young children. "It was a $7 lunch that turned into a $157 bill. That money could have come in real handy."

Panera Bread Bakery & Cafe

520 W. 23rd St., Lawrence



donventura 11 years, 6 months ago

The solution is SIMPLE, READ the signs and stop blaming everyone else for your own stupidity!

not_dolph 11 years, 6 months ago

Wow, Bulldog...those must be some expensive signs you say you purchased. You have made (at a minimum) $750 on the 5 cars you HAVE towed, and you HAVEN'T broken even on the signs yet?

Ragingbear 11 years, 6 months ago

Am I the only one that is alarmed that if you get towed, they are now charging 150$ That is highway robbery, no wonder they patrol the area.

I for one, and no longer soliciting any of the stores that are in on this parking lot.

redbird 11 years, 6 months ago

Yes you are right about the towong bill Ragingbear,one of my comments was going to be about this...but I've seen the crowds for the restaurants in the area and please they aren't filling the spaces!!!! And back to the towing,is this going to raise yet another question of business ethics???? If they are going to charge this then post the towing fine on the sign,there is your parking deterent and then the people will park somewhere else,you know...31st & Iowa,6th & Wakarusa,'s just not worth the trouble to eat or shop at this area....

Linda Aikins 11 years, 6 months ago


My eating days at those three restaurants are over. And I'd like to know which tenants were going to leave, and I won't go there either.

What happened to good old fashioned niceness?

Terry Jacobsen 11 years, 6 months ago

Maybe Panera bread could pay a fee to Murl and then their customers could eat in peace.

planetwax 11 years, 6 months ago

I'm not going to eat around there anytime soon. Or, PARK! Forget it. If it was that important, and someone is watching these parking drivers walk into the store, why can't they ask them to park elsewhere? $150????????????????????????????? GEEEZ, people!

Michael Stanclift 11 years, 6 months ago

Murl Westheffer is a jerk. Anyone who knows him or anything about him can tell you this. I am not surprised by this one bit.

Ragingbear 11 years, 6 months ago

And another thing. People park there all the time, and the local meter maids come around and chalk the tires there. Why are meter maids chalking tires in a private parking lot?

average 11 years, 6 months ago

The cynic in me asks whether the owner gets $10 or $20 kicked back from the tow company for each car. I've known property owners who have that under-the-table agreement.

Also, say my friend is at the recruiters, and I walk over for coffee? Or, I pick up a bagel on my way to the tanning parlor? If I were the tenant businesses, I would be furious with the publicity.

Rick Aldrich 11 years, 6 months ago

i don't see anybody getting towed at kohl's if your shopping at old navy or parked at famous footwear and shopping at TJ Max. tipical tow service buzzard deal. i sure won't go to that lot anymore. and i'm sure this will affect some businesses also.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 6 months ago

The Nail Expressions lady is dead on. How many businesses have failed at Louisiana Purchase? The "problem" with shopping centers (I once managed a business in the Riverfront Mall) is that the tenants pay a premium for the promise of heavy traffic. But, if businesses are failing, then it's a rip-off. Panera may be costing them a little parking, but they are bringing in traffic that otherwise wouldn't exist. That furniture store survived 5 years longer than it should have, probably due to Panera's presence.

Solution: Tear down the old furniture store part of the shopping center for parking.

unite2revolt 11 years, 6 months ago

I think everyone missed the point. People parking cars should be the courteous ones. I get outraged by people who are so inconsiderate as to park where they are not supposed to especially when it has been marked as a reserved space. I'm sorry she couldn't afford the tow charge but that's her fault, not the landlords. The solution is not to quit going to Panera for lunch. It's to start reading signs and parking where it makes sense to park. She's lucky she parked somewhere where her car was treated nicely and simply towed away by professionals. If she had infringed on my property rights I doubt she would have gotten off that easy. The last time this happened to me I simply blocked in the offending car, poor bastard had to wait for the cops to come and run his tags and DL after which the cop decided he was too drunk to drive anyway.

KSChick1 11 years, 6 months ago

what if you get your nails done, sign up for the army, get a tan, and then eat lunch at the bread place

how petty

I don't ever go into that area and won't after reading this

you can bet it does not cost $150 to run through that lot and hook up to a car and take it out to N. Lawrence where the tow lot is

I hate tow truck companies-the cops usually have some kind of deal with them for city tows too

I feel sorry for the single mom who had a $157 bill for a $7 lunch


gutenberg 11 years, 6 months ago

What an obvious mistake in management by the Louisiana Purchase proprietors. Inconveniencing and penalizing patrons because of ill considered parking lot design and signage which is so wordy as to discourage reading and comprehension.

Why don't you create signs that read, "$150 and Three Hours Inconvenience for parking near Panara's and not patronizing other Louisiana Purchase businesses"?

What happens if you want to eat a sandwich and then go shopping elsewhere at Louisiana Purchase?

What happens if you shop at Louisiana Purchase and the want to eat a sandwich?

There's a better way to do business than to be shortsighted.

gutenberg 11 years, 6 months ago

What an obvious mistake in management by the Louisiana Purchase proprietors. Inconveniencing and penalizing patrons because of ill considered parking lot design and signage which is so wordy as to discourage reading and comprehension.

Why don't you create signs that read, "$150 and Three Hours Inconvenience for parking near Panara's and not patronizing other Louisiana Purchase businesses"?

What happens if you want to eat a sandwich and then go shopping elsewhere at Louisiana Purchase?

What happens if you shop at Louisiana Purchase and then want to eat a sandwich?

There's a better way to do business than to be shortsighted.

Hilary Morton 11 years, 6 months ago

"The Nail Expressions Lady" is a man. He's a great man, and the service there is wonderful. I agree with you, Unite. People, read the sign, and zip it. Yes, it's a mess, considering there are very few spots available for Panera customers, but when you park right in front of a sign that tells you that you can't park there, it's your own fault.

Panera should probably branch out anyhow. They are a popular restaurant, with a lot of interest, and not enough room for parking.

If you ever frequent Louisiana Purchase, as I do regularly for Nail Expressions, Schlotzky's and The Scarlet Orchid, you will see that the parking lot is often full. There are a lot of businesses that don't have enough spaces in one tight corner of Lawrence, and many of the cars parked belong to those at Panera. Perhaps Panera should go West. They could replace that horrible SPANGLES, and we wouldn't be subjected to those painful commercials anymore.

c_doc77 11 years, 6 months ago

I like Panera, but I stopped eating there long ago. Half the time you can't get a parking space, and then you have to stand in line to sit in that cramped up area.

As for the towing goes, its just another example of the Free Enterprise system out of control - not unlike speed traps set up to get revenue.

born_n_raised_n_kansas 11 years, 6 months ago

Just to let every one know that if you see your car getting towed you do not have to pay one cent as long as your tires are still on the ground.

So even if they have the wrecker hooked up to your car but they have not lifted it yet you can tell them to stop and unhook it and not be charged.

The bad part is that as soon as one of your tires leaves the ground it is up to the tow truck driver to charge a discounted rate to unhook your car.

Sometimes, I mean most of the time I have seen drivers say tough luck and leave with the car even after being confronted by the owner of the car. Forcing the owner to go to the impound lot and pay the full fee.

cutny 11 years, 6 months ago

Not that I agree with the policy, but there IS a sign posted telling people not to park there. I would bet that Westheffer is most certainly pocketing a tidy some from Bulldog's kickbacks which is loathsome for sure. For once, Marion sounds like he knows what he's talking about (did I just say that?). Ugh. What a scam. Of course if the city commission does something about it, all the conservative freaks should commence moaning about the commission sticking their noses in every little thing. It's been to look like the old adage that people have had for years about the police department: You dislike them until you need them.

average 11 years, 6 months ago

Person A and Person B:

Person A drives Person B's car and lets them out near Schlotzky's.

Person A parks in LA Purchase.

Person A walks into Panera.

Two wheels off the ground.

Person B walks out with a reciept, sipping from a Schlotzky's cup and the keys to the car.

Persons C and D block in the tow truck until restitution is made for the scratches found on said car.

Person A walks away.

Just saying.

compmd 11 years, 6 months ago

This isn't new.

I lived near a small shopping center (slightly larger than Louisiana Purchase) outside of Chicago that did something very similar. Their configuration was much like that of Louisiana Purchase, with a separate building not part of the main shopping center, though not obvious. One day a team of "parking enforcers" showed up. If you didn't park and immediately go into one of the approved businesses, your car was booted, and it was not released until you paid $117. Several people here have made the astute observation, "Well, what if I patronize one business, and then another?" That did not satisfy these "enforcers." It did not stop them from booting a 90 year old woman's car, nor did it stop them from booting a handicapped individual's car parked in a handicapped space. It was simply outrageous. After public outcry, the owner of the main shopping center posted signs much like those here. Something disturbing is that there were "false positives" where cars were booted when the vehicle owners did nothing wrong and patronized the correct businesses. They still had to pay. This is where you can fight back.

IANAL, and this is not legal advice. But if you abide by the rules and you get towed (its going to happen to someone sooner or later), call the police and complain to the city Let this property owner sweat. That little suburban shopping center survived its b4st4rd owner. Enough people complained, and the city started doing more frequent "surprise" health and building inspections, and announced that property taxes were going up. The booters suddenly went away.

Bulldog, I'm disappointed in you. You were (I thought) the last ethical tow company in the city. Maybe someone can explain why it is that if you call to have your car towed from point A to point B in the city limits, its $40 or so. But, if someone else orders your car towed it is $150. This is disgusting.

geppetto 11 years, 6 months ago

I have nothing nice to say about tow companies. I hope calling them blood sucking leeches is nice enough. Geppetto

Jamesaust 11 years, 6 months ago

I think the City needs to intervene before there's some violent incident. Goodness knows, people have reacted with violence over less.

That said, this really is the City's fault. Anyone who has been at that Shopping Center knows that the parking is woefully inadequate. The developer squeezed in more building that the lot can support. The idea that this "mini" lot has different "zones" is absurd. The development board approved the plans even though at the time people pointed out the parking inadequacy.

The 'Louisiana Purchase' is an excellent example of what happens when there is no development oversight.

speedykitty 11 years, 6 months ago

I love Panera Bread in other locations, such as Olathe, Manhattan, etc. I have not used this one, but just reading this makes me hungry for a Fuji Apple Chicken Salad! Sounds like they need a new location with adequate parking, perhaps further south, where their customers can have more space, and dedicated parking.

white_mountain 11 years, 6 months ago

Did the journalist ask why the tow charge is so high?

or if these businesses collect a portion of it?

miker 11 years, 6 months ago

I wonder if the frequent protesters park there or take the T ? The property owner should scrub the parking lot on his knees for that price !

ranger73 11 years, 6 months ago

Bulldog Towing is one of the most reasonable tow companies in tow, and it's too bad they got hung out to dry by the LJW. Maybe everyone should find out what towing companies charge these days and then start shouting.

Until they are regulated by either the city, county or state-they can charge what ever they want.

Just ask ex-atty. gen. Phill Kline. Remember that little lawsuit against Transmasters? Didn't hear that it got dropped did you? Reason-no laws regulating so no basis for suit. And no I don't work for any tow companies.

kef104 11 years, 6 months ago

Any business owner that thinks causing trouble for customers and potential customers will result in more business is doomed to failure.

How idiotic to think that if I did not enter a business first thing today that I have not in the past, or might not in the future, spend my money there. I often eat at one place and then shop at the surrounding stores.

Murl Westheffer, your idea of "protection" shows you to be mean, self centered, and incapable of long term thought processes. Even if your policy is technically legal, it is unethical and treats customers badly.

This is one customer, in support of those ticketed, who will not only refuese to spend money with any business in your "protected parking" area, but will also make sure all of my friends and family are aware of other places to spend their money instead.

Happy Holidays.

ranger73 11 years, 6 months ago

OH Marion- By the way- I usually agree with you on most things, but on this I have to disagree. That may have been the way it was in 1970 with every tow company around, all 1 of them, but with so much competition out there now (7 or 8 just in Lawrence) I find it hard to believe they all get operate that way. Call me naive, but look what happens to Bulldog from one story that isn't even really about them at all.

christie 11 years, 6 months ago

Break the bank... this is so easy.

Park in their lot. Go eat. Watch you car get towed.

Then frequent the other businesses... browse around, then ask the managers of those businesses where your car is. Then file a lawsuit.

That's exactly what I'm going to do. I'm going to do that today. Any lawyers in town want this case?

Rationalanimal 11 years, 6 months ago

I personally loathe to the must acute degree tow companies. The drivers are the scum from the slime bottoms of the oldest waste treatment pools. Often they have questionable backgrounds, are ex-police officers kicked off the force, etc, etc. It is disturbing that Lawrence, and most other college towns allow these individuals to intentionally prey on students, by doing so, they also make the community a quasi-police state where one innocent misstep brings down undeserved, heavy-handed punishment. I don't think that is the community Lawrence wants to be, no matter how liberal, or how conservative you happen to be. This is an issue long overdue to be addressed. I call on City Hall to put their best collective minds together and come up with a way to stop allowing these jackals from exploiting the soft belly of our community. As a short term solution, I will NEVER, shop at place, or places, that allow predatory tow companies to harrass its patrons. It is a contradiction and misrepresentation to the greatest degree when a group of business share a common building, but then dissect its parking lot, the means of customers accessing their businesses, into "no trespassing" feifdoms. This is enough for me to NEVER spend another dime at the LP strip mall. Bagels, are bagels, everything else in there can be found somewhere else close by. Stop shopping there and you'll put the jerks out of business that back hand Lawrence consumers.

white_mountain 11 years, 6 months ago

christie, just an idea - buy something at one or two of those businesses and keep the receipts

conservative 11 years, 6 months ago

Other than that possibly the tow charge is too high, this makes sense. I've often seen that lot too full to park in and that means that the people who's rent is supposed to mean they have parking available to their customers are getting the shaft.

When I was little my parents had a business in a strip mall. There were spots directly in front of their store that were reserved only for them and marked as such. When a restraunt went in next door in a different strip with a different parking lot, the lunch and dinner crowds were too much for their parking lot and people would overflow into ours and block my parents spots. My dad was very reasonable and would go to the restraunt and give people the chance to move their cars before calling the tow truck, but they couldn't stay in business if there was nowhere for their customers to park.

I definitely believe the sign should be clearer and state the tow charge, but also believe that it is in the best interest of the rent paying businesses there to make sure their customers can get to them. Why should the eight businesses to whom the parking belongs lose money because of a business that located where there wasn't adequate parking?

Steve Mechels 11 years, 6 months ago

Christie, you beat me to it. I was going to say almost the same thing. At lunch (or whenever) everyone park in LA Purchase's lot, go browse a couple of stores, and then go eat at Panera.

I'm thinking the owner of the shopping center is a little PO'ed that he didn't buy all of that property; sour grapes anyone?

kmat 11 years, 6 months ago

Conservative - what you're not getting is that this is a strip mall. Just because you are seen going into Panera, it doesn't mean you aren't also shopping at other businesses there. After reading this, I will never return there. I have done this exact thing, shopped at the mall and gone into Panera afterwards. I can say if they had tried to tow my car, the tow truck would have ended up with four flat tires.

Those who do shop there need to call the shop owners to let them know you won't return and why. That's the only way to stop this nonsense.

conservative 11 years, 6 months ago


What you're missing is that the number of people hitting other places in the mall is slight. Do you really think they're eating at Panera's AND one of the other restraunts? Maybe tanning, but most of the customers are unlikely to say that I'm going to stop by Panera's for lunch and then go sign up for the military.

Although with the prices at some restaurants I suppose some might have to stop and get a loan ahead of time. :D

average 11 years, 6 months ago

Wife gets nails or cancer done. Hubby drinks coffee and surfs on wifi. Entirely believable.

bretherite 11 years, 6 months ago

Just for the record. I stop by Panera before going to Nail Expressions quite often. I know several others do as well. So if the tow truck driver sees me going into Panera before I go to my nail appt he is going to tow me? Or am I to park my car in front of Panera get my order then get back in my car and move it to go to my nail appt?

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 6 months ago

What happens to a person who wants to go to shops/eateries in both places? Do they have to re-park within the same lot? How screwed up is that? No trips to Schlotzkys and GNC.

toefungus 11 years, 6 months ago

Can a person with a sign stand on the sidewalk and warn people coming into the lot they may be towed?

Confrontation 11 years, 6 months ago

"I call on City Hall to put their best collective minds together"

That implies that there are minds of some sort at city hall.

Bill Smith 11 years, 6 months ago

Simply stupid!

I will no longer frequent any of the establishments.

Scarlet Orchid - please, I am begging you - find a location downtown!

lonelyboy 11 years, 6 months ago


You would then pay for the tires and also the the tow. Then you would be

KFLAT broke.

BorderRat 11 years, 6 months ago

It boils down to city zoning requirements. It seems Lawrence allows too many businesses to occupy an area with too little parking. Hey, here's an Idea, bring your own lunch, park in a space and just sit in your car for an hour read a book and eat. Another thing is the old Fake out ploy. Park in a restricted spot, be seen going into the forbidden zone, sneak back to the other side and purchase an item from an approved store. Wait until your car is towed, show your receipt from the approved store and file a major lawsuit against the tow company and the property owner. Just a thought...

BorderRat 11 years, 6 months ago

I can see it now, Bob Woodward's new book "Off the Hook, the corruption in the Lawrence Towing Market."

local_support 11 years, 6 months ago

I grew up in a midwest city half the size of Lawrence. Approximately seven tow companies have carved up the city and patrol the streets and lots looking for violators 24/7. You cannot even park in an apartment complex to visit friends without being towed. The fees are in excess of $100 and signs are often placed behind bushes or other inconspicuous places. I certainly hope that Lawrence is not headed in this direction!

overthemoon 11 years, 6 months ago

I don't understand how three restaurants recieved city approval for construction. There are very specifice parking requirements in the city code for different types of businesses. This entire facililty is inadequately designed for its use, yet the site plans were approved and tenant finish permits were issued for new tenants that should not be there.

Now...if only we had a truly functional and reliable public trainsit system, maybe parking wouldn't be so much of an issue and our town wouldn't be such a continuous scape of asphalt. Or if our development codes had been written to ensure a walkable maybe, if our growth had been smartly planned...hmmmm. Is it possible that developer/market driven planning leads to problems like this???

optimist 11 years, 6 months ago

How do they handle a situation where a patron of a Louisiana Purchase shop parks in their lot to visit one of their shops and afterward walks over to Panera to grab a sandwich? What about those who park there to grab a quick bite at Panera on their way to one of the shops in the Louisiana Purchase.

I would also suggest anyone in this town that is ever in need of a tow avoids the above named towing company. I would suggest $150 is gouging and opportunistic and further encourages the towing company to behave improperly. It's pretty low brow when a towing company trolls a parking lot to watch where people go after they park.

Louisiana Purchase has overreacted and cannot possibly believe that people who get towed or their friends that hear of their treatment will ever return to that lot or those companies. Eventually word travels and people will avoid that lot and cost them tenants anyway. This story certainly doesn't help in the PR department.

I won't be going there as long as they have a towing company lurking in the lot. It's very conceivable that mistakes have and will be made and the car owner is left with little recourse except small claims court. I encourage all those who were charged to take them to small claims court and prove they have the right to tow you.

local_support 11 years, 6 months ago

Yes it does Irish and that is certainly unfortunate. I cannot tell you how many times I was sure I had parked in an acceptable location only to find my vehicle missing when I came back and having to shell out 100 bucks that I really did not have. Lawrence does not need this type of headache for its residents and if a trend of this nature does start to develop you better believe I will be on the front lines of the battle.

I do not plan to patronize any of the businesses in this particular strip mall and I will also encourage others to do the same.

lonelyboy 11 years, 6 months ago


Sorry to hear that.... been married w/children for a long time ... datenight every Friday and Saturday.

Don't let the "lonelyboy" name fool you.

drewdun 11 years, 6 months ago

I'm not surprised Bulldog is involved with this crap. They have personally screwed me big-time twice, and not in this shopping center. The owners and employees of Bulldog Towing are wt, and can rot in hell for all I care.


sourpuss 11 years, 6 months ago

Welcome to unregulated capitalism. Many Americans solidly support practices such as these employed by the tow companies in Lawrence. After all, why should the government tell these businesses what they can charge? If the market will bear the price, then that is what you charge. Towing illegally parked cars is perfectly legal, and it doesn't matter if you are 90 or handicapped. "Caveat emptor".... or rather, let the parker beware. Read the signs, follow them. Yes, if you are towed despite following the rules, call the police, but if you didn't follow the rules, too bad, better have some extra money on you. If you don't like it, don't visit those businesses. And if you think it would help, you can even take Marion's advice and fight back. However, if you have enough people to fight, then you may have enough people to damage business through boycott.

I have noticed that people are perfectly happy to have government regulation when someone's got a hand in their pocketbook, but think regulation is terrible when it comes to limiting Wal-Mart or imports or gas milage. Gotta love humans.

javery 11 years, 6 months ago

Did anyone see on the front page of ljworld (on the right, in the advertisement section, also, how can I make this into a link?). Now that is really outrageous. Having an article about this trickery, then advertising for a full time tow truck operator.

That said, what bothers me about this particular situation is that I can understand the shopping center's desire to reserve their parking spots, but if I see a sign like that with a list of businesses, I tend to assume that it is referring to any businesses surrounding the parking lot, thus indicating not to park there and go to a surrounding shopping center. They may just not have had room to list all of the businesses. (If there is only one business listed, then of course it is perfectly clear).

The trouble in this case is that it is not clear at all to the average customer that there is a division in the parking lot. The owner of the shopping center should put up a concrete curb to prevent people from getting from the panera parking lot to the shopping center's parking lot.

And Panera should just move and screw the shopping center's owner for being unethical by removing a ton of the foot traffic there.

On the flip side of this, I think there are times when such things should be enforced. The Borders parking lot comes to mind. I frequently head to Borders and can't find a parking spot in the evening because people are parking there and just heading across the street to Last Call. In that case, there are signs indicating that the parking is for only ONE store, not a bunch, and there is a clear demarkation of the parking lot. Not to mention it makes me a bit wary to even be there given the crowd that Last Call attracts.

rhd99 11 years, 6 months ago

Maybe we all should boycott Louisiana Purchase. That'll wake some people up. I do wonder who received kickbacks to establish this ILLEGAL parking policy at the shopping center. Y'all want economic prosperity, then STOP towing vehicles that are parked somewhere else! You can't have it your way or both ways ALL THE TIME! Wake UP, CITY GOVERNMENT!

big_blue 11 years, 6 months ago

. BOYCOTT** . LOUISIANA PURCHASE SHOPS . BULLDOG TOW . CALL****** . LOUISIANA PURCHASE SHOPS . BULLDOG TOW . and let them know you're boycotting . they're not reading this, so they won't know what you think unless/until you call them . . .

compmd 11 years, 6 months ago

small claims? go for the gold. hit the sob with criminal charges. by patronizing a business there, and parking in an open space in the lot, you are implicitly granted a right to use that space, barring anything posted to the contrary. read the statutes on theft. being deprived of your property constitutes theft if I'm not mistaken.

reginafliangie 11 years, 6 months ago

compmd: problem with complaining to the police, it is private property, the owner has the right to tow any vehicle it wants the police can't enfore that.

This is just horrible, but somebody said it earlier, the shops that are there are all over lawrence, go there. Except for the 3 resturants. I know I won't starve not going to any of them. There are plenty of others to choose from in Lawrence. I don't see this lasting very long if any of the businesses or the property owner want to make an money.

whatintheworld 11 years, 6 months ago

I would love to see Panera come over to Sixth and Wak. Perhaps where Taco Casa was. 23rd is too far away!!

moxxie_mama 11 years, 6 months ago

They make such a big deal out of parking in normal parking lots, yet do they do a darned thing about non-handicapped parking in handicapped spots?

There are plenty of people who park any ole darn way they want to, and I'd rather see people doing someting about that. HOWEVER I don't agree with THIS lot doing it for the reasons they are. If there wasn't enough parking, why did they put a popular place like panera bread in there?

Gee, most businesses want a popular business near for their own stores, but not competition. This is what it is about, their competition is winning, so they're trying to run off their customers...and I'm very glad to see it backfiring.

white_mountain 11 years, 6 months ago

I have never heard of Wal-Mart towing anyone's car away for parking in their lot.

white_mountain 11 years, 6 months ago

This guy must be making a fortune from the tow aways alone.

ranger73 11 years, 6 months ago

Marion- I will defer to you on the kick backs as you seem to know- I do know that unless the towing industry is regulated, you can expect to pay at least upwards of $100 for a tow. As for towing on the east coast, Powershopper, most of the towing in that region is regulated. Hence, lower tow bills. As for the parking in that particular lot-It is horrible in the first place-hard to get into and out of, and the spaces are too close together.

reginafliangie 11 years, 6 months ago

Marion, how does the LPD steer tows to certain companies? The owner of this shopping center made a deal with bulldog tow. Nobody else involved. So how is LPD involved? I totally agree the tow fees are outrageous but that LPD gets any monies from it is totally false.

bretherite 11 years, 6 months ago

I just drove by there on my way home and there a lot of empty spaces. Guess word has gotten out.

BlueRoom 11 years, 6 months ago

Recently, my daughter's car broke down near KC and had it towed to Lawrence. It only cost her $60.00.

reginafliangie 11 years, 6 months ago

Sounds like if you need a tow, call a KC service, even paying for the per milage cost to come to Lawrence sounds cheaper than the local companies.

conservativepunker 11 years, 6 months ago about just park where you are supposed to...NOT where it is prohibited? Then, no fee to pay for towing? Wow! That's an idea!!! (rolling eyes)

reginafliangie 11 years, 6 months ago

Like Kim Murphree (police spokesperson) stated the tow companies are on a rotated list. If the owner (of the car)or the property owners don't specifiy a specific company it gets chosen from the rotating list. How is that "favourisim"? The rotating computer picks the list and whos next in line, not the officers.

Bud Stagg 11 years, 6 months ago

Towing cars for buying something from a neighboring business is stupid. They should be pooling their spaces as all the negative posts will show, this was a very bad business move. It is customer service 101 "For every person they piss off there are 10 other people they tell" They better get some positive PR going real quick or Murle is going to be looking for tenants.

By the way, if they tow 1 car a day, Murle is making an extra $1500 a month! He should post signs at every property he owns. He should bulldoze the building and make big parking lots, then tow anyone who parks there. But then word will get out and no one will park there.

What if he doesn't bulldoze the buildings and he just continues to tow people... no one will park there. What business with a business mind would want a landlord like that? That's called thinking little, not big.

white_mountain 11 years, 6 months ago

I have a friend who does something similiar in downtown Memphis where he lives.

He's not getting rich from it overnight (the lot is not too large), but the tow charges do give him a nice supplemental income month to month.

Noweigh 11 years, 6 months ago

Good retailers understand the value of a true "anchor" store in their area, hence, if I own a business in La. Purchase, I'd encourage anyone to park there, just give me the foot traffic! As for $150.00 towing fees, those are obviously outrageous. Maybe the city should regulate wait a minute, they're too busy worrying about the Patriot Act, Iraq and other priorities this city faces. A tip of the hat to the LJW for bringing this story to light.

Bob Forer 11 years, 6 months ago

I have used Bull Dog tow three times in the past--once when I was locked out of my vehicle and twice when my car was not running and needed towing to an auto repair shop. Their fees were in the 25 to 35 dollar range, which I thought reasonable. Until this story broke, I touted them as the last honest towing company in Lawrence. No more. Looks like they have gone the way of their crooked colleagues. Shame on you, Bull Dog.

portstorm 11 years, 6 months ago

What kills me about this is that everytime I go to Panera I pick up a sandwich at Schlotskies (or however the hell you spell that) for my wife.... I can't stand the place but....

I just can't wait until I come out of Panera and have a tow truck hooked up to my car (I usually park in between the two)... I think that landlord (like most in lawrence) is more concerned with the petty stuff than making sure he can keep tenants (if ANYTHING the tenants benefit from the traffic draw).
Anyone notice the paint falling off the building over there? I love that the City Comm. just sited it as "an example of good business architecture".... looks like masonite w/ paint falling off to me . And the fact that they think the parking lot is full? I go there all times of day, and only once or twice (in 5 years) have I ever seen it full... and that's if you ignore the parking behind panera which is always empty.

law 11 years, 6 months ago

I'll never shop there again. And I certainly will have nothing good to say about Bulldog Tow. Boycott!!!!!!!!!!!!!

white_mountain 11 years, 6 months ago

I don't see what's so wrong with the guy making a little money on the side.. it's his parking lot, after all.

Bob Forer 11 years, 6 months ago

Hey white-mountain, with your logic, everybody should be able to "make a little money on the side," including drug dealers. After all, its their drugs, right. Why not let them sell a little on the side to support their habit?


white_mountain 11 years, 6 months ago

Now you're comparing this guy, who's just trying to protect his tenants, to a drug dealer?

If you really think he's as bad as a drug dealer, just say so.

dem4life 11 years, 6 months ago

BULLDOG TOW IS A HORRIBLE BUSINESS! I caught them in the act of trying to tow my car and was told it was $100 to release it and then the other guy told me it was $120. They are scam artists - there is no need to run a business in this manner! $120 to do absolutely nothing except block in my car - that is highway robbery. We have a huge problem in Kansas because there is absolutely no regulation of the towing industry any company can charge any amount. Do not use Bulldog - horrible people and horrible business!

Bob Forer 11 years, 6 months ago

I am not comparing him to a drug dealer. I am merely demonstrating the idiocy of your logic.

white_mountain 11 years, 6 months ago

Sounded to me like you were comparing him to a drug dealer. Let me guess, did you major in communications?

white_mountain 11 years, 6 months ago

All I'm saying is, it's a nice way for a guy to make a little supplemental income, that's all.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 6 months ago

All these years I thought that lot belonged to one big happy family of merchants. Probaly the cafes were the only unhappy tenants. Paneras is BUSY during prime time eating hours. Anyway you look at it it's bad PR. $150 towing fees stink.

Bob Forer 11 years, 6 months ago

What's so nice about ripping off the public?

drewdun 11 years, 6 months ago

dem4life: see my earlier comment about Bulldog. They were the most unprofessional, unfriendly, downright scandalous business I've ever had the misfortune of coming across (not of my own volition, mind you). In a word: THEY SUCK. BIG TIME

white_mountain 11 years, 6 months ago

Murl's main concern is to service his tenants' customers, not someone else's customers.

If they don't comply with Murl's sign, then they should know they are playing with fire.

wagenseil 11 years, 6 months ago

About six months ago my in-laws were visiting. We ate lunch at Scarlet Orchid, then walked over to Panera for mocha lattes for coffee/dessert. I can't imagine that we are the only people who have ever done that. So, the guy watching the lot doesn't see us going into Scarlet Orchid at noon; sees us go into Panera at 1:30, we get towed? [this didn't happen, but sounds like it could]

For years, Scarlet Orchid's location has basically been a hospice for restaurants -- they go there to die -- and it would be far better off downtown, elsewhere on 23rd, anywhere. After this publicity, a good lawyer could probably get them out of the lease (or make life sufficiently miserable for the owner that he would beg them to leave...).

lawrencechick 11 years, 6 months ago

Panera outgrew that spot years ago. I can't believe they haven't expanded and made a nicer store. That empty retail spot in front of Home Depot would be perfect for them. I'm amazed their management can't see that.

SpeedRacer 11 years, 6 months ago

I never thought the Purchase ever did that well anyway, it's a little hard to get in and out of. I have only gone to Schlotzky's a couple of times. I definitely can't see any reason to go there now.

suesay 11 years, 6 months ago

I have a dumb question, but someone was talking about it a few hundred posts ago... Why do meter maids chalk people's tires?

reginafliangie 11 years, 6 months ago

Because people who work or are there for over the alloted time limit can't just back up and re-park, they have to drive the car to get the chalk marks off the tires. There way of knowing how long a car has been parked.

law 11 years, 6 months ago

After last years newspaper article I bet A&M Towing is loving this.

Bulldogtow 11 years, 6 months ago

Well, I am sure that there will be a lot of comments made after I post, but I want to react to some of the items. FIRST OF ALL, THE JOURNAL WORLD AND SUNFLOWER CHANNEL 6 MADE NO ATTEMPT TO CONTACT ME AND GET MY STATEMENT ON THIS STORY. Only 5 vehicles have been towed, none were parked in the center island. All of the people in these cars left to go to Panera or another business OFF the Louisiana Purchase property. There are approximately 30+ cars that are illegally parking there every day during the lunch hour alone. It was explained to me that the owner of the Panera and Cingular building, at one time leased some parking from Louisiana Purchase, but this year decided not to do so. After a lot of discussion nothing could be worked out. The management called me about this problem over a month ago. I first posted signs (at my expense) that stated "Louisiana Purchase Parking Only", and my logo. This did not seem to work, because like most people, I was not aware that there were two separate property owners. Once the first set of signs didn't work, another set of signs were made that specifically listed the stores that you had to be going to in order to park there. This, so far, has been at my expense also. After the signs were in place for a week, and no improvement was seen, we did start to monitor the parking lot. We did this on 3 different occasions, and a total of 5 cars have been towed, and 2 released on site. These cars again were parked on the East end of the parking lot, in front of Schlotzsky's and Papa Johns, or in the back lot next to our tow trucks. None of these were from the center island, because I still feel that it is not marked well enough. We are waiting until a third sign is placed in the middle of the row.

Panera finally started having an employee stand outside telling the people where to park. Several people read the signs and then moved or chose to go to another restaurant instead of Panera because there was no parking. At least this way Panera, is the one paying to have the problems solved, since most of the customers creating the problem are theirs.

As for the tow bills. Yes, private tows are more expensive than normal shop tows. Our prices are in line with every other tow company in town, and cheaper than some. Private tows are harder to do than normal tows, and you have to deal with the customers on several different occasions, fill out more paperwork, and sometimes call the police because of threats. Private tows are necessary to protect the property owners, and their tenants who need to park in their spaces that they rent or pay rent for.. And of course like already stated on here, people will claim damage that isn't there, and you have to deal with that. So yes, private tows are more expensive than "normal tows".

More in next post

Bulldogtow 11 years, 6 months ago

As far as kick-backs. I have never and will never give a property owner a kick back. There is not enough money to pay the drivers, insurance, taxes, fuel, vehicle payments, equipment to do the tows, etc: I have not made any money off this property, and haven't even made enough to pay for the signs.

Finally, we were doing this to HELP the businesses, and property owner that tried to do everything they could to get their parking lot back, but couldn't without going to this step. I'm sorry that the people involved think that they were mistreated, but they also have to pay attention to where they are parking and take responsibility for their own actions. None of the people involved said they were parked legally, just that they think they shouldn't be responsible for their actions.

I hope this explains the problems there a little bit better.

hk45 11 years, 6 months ago

It would have been nice of the LJ World to at least open the phone book and attempt to contact Bulldog Tow to get their side of it.

I really think the property owners are making a poor poor choice by having the cars towed.

Kookamooka 11 years, 6 months ago

Panera is too popular to stay in that location. The strip mall only has like 4-6 designated parking spots FOR Panera. So, I say....start looking for a new Lawrence location. How about next to Body Boutique at the Hillcrest Shopping Center or below the Hobbs Taylor Lofts. Those locations have been tax write offs for their speculators for TOO LONG! Did anyone ever move into the old Mr. Gatti's? There is so much "dead" commercial real estate in this town that I just LAUGH everytime a Developer INSISTS that retail become part of their plan. Built in Tax Write off, that's what it looks like to me.

compmd 11 years, 6 months ago


Thank you for your courage to come onto these boards and candidly state your case. I find it reassuring that a proprietor will step forward to honestly defend his position.

Regina: Hence my "implicit license to use a parking spot" line. A parking lot is present for you to park your car. The property owner implicitly permits you to park there to shop in the stores in his mall. If you do that, and he still tows your car...well, that's where the theft comes in. Similarly, consider that you put up a sign that says "Car Wash, $5" in your front yard, and someone in good faith pulls in to get a car wash, which they pay you for, and you provide. However, before they can depart, a tow truck has pulled in behind them and blocked them in. This happened beacuse you called the truck and said that a car was parked on your private property. They can either park their while using your services or not; you can't have it both ways.

In conclusion: ban parking lots. :)

Bob Forer 11 years, 6 months ago

Bulldog, You are full of &$#. A "normal" tow is around $40. A "private" two, as you describe it, is $150.00. Plesae explain to me how the "extra paperwork" and the hassle justifies you in charging four times the normal amount. Oh, and just because everyone else is a thief, it doesn't mean that its okay for you guys to be crooks as well. Go (&^) yourself.

badger 11 years, 6 months ago

I sure hope all you people talking about how you're not going to the businesses in the Louisiana Purchase will call each and every one of them and explain why they have lost your business.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 6 months ago

Paneras would you please make Last Call an offer.

ranger73 11 years, 6 months ago

Congratulations bulldog for stepping up to the plate and presenting your side of the story, since the ljw didn't.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 6 months ago

I support Badger. I do not know of any retail business that can afford to lose drive by traffic. Most of what is there is difficult to see from Louisiana and 23rd.

We at one point not only had lunch at Panera's but also took time to shop the mattress store.

dem4life 11 years, 6 months ago


You said 2 vehicles were released on site - how much did those owners have to pay to get thier cars back? If a shop tow is $40 - I sure hope it was not more than that but in my experience it was MUCH higher. Let's get honest about the rediculous rates that you charge.

armyguy 11 years, 6 months ago

"10 signs that alert drivers that they must be shopping at one of the center's stores to park there." Perhaps they need a new driving test to see if they can read. That parking lot is very small and if you can't read one of ten signs posted, you deserve what you get. As far as bulldogs rates goes, has anyone thought through the cost of operating a tow business? The insurance is huge if you are towing for a third party, ie: City, State, or a third party private business. I had Bull Dog tow my truck a couple of years ago from KC to home, yes the rates were cheaper, however I was with them. Towing with out the owners permission or authority has higher rates because of higher liability.

Having the City/County/State regulate prices is an absurd idea, should we regulate McDonalds Big Mac price? We do not regulate prices in our free market economy. If you want that much regulation move to Cuba.

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 6 months ago

I suggest everyone buy cheap car that runs enough to park there, fill the trunk with dead fish, and abandon the things. How long do they have to hold the cars before getting rid of them anyways? You can get cars for $50 if you look around. Ones that'll drive a mile or two at least.

Porter 11 years, 6 months ago

Who's getting towed for $40?? I've never seen a tow charge less than $100.
Couranna: How much do you think a cab ride costs in NY? $9 won't get you far.

Are services really so cheap at Lake Wobegon that these prices surprise you?

donventura 11 years, 6 months ago

BullDog Towing is providing a valuable service to property owners. It's sad that people won't just slow down and read the signs. After I was almost towed once, I ALWAYS read the signs now! I hope this article gets more people to read those signs. If MORE read the signs LESS people are towed. I think this will help everyone involved.

geekin_topekan 11 years, 6 months ago

I have a question. Why do the local towing companies have help wanted ads running constantly?A$M has had one for weeks and BD has one at least once a month.Hillcrest has a new one today.WTF? My guess is that the employees or the poor stiff doing the hands on part of the job isnt getting jack. Insurance?Who pays if the employee scratched up your paint?Bulldog?No,the employee.Seems the risk far outweighs the rewards of working for a towing company. "No experience needed"?All three ads.So the dude chaining up my car has no towing experience,gets the minimal amount of pay,assumes all responsibility for dings and scratches and collects $150 but sees..??Not enough to keep him happy so you run a constant ad to keep up with the turnover of fed-up drivers. Sounds crooked from every angle. Equipment?Have you looked closely at any of the equipment that some of these companies use?If you know anything about the business you can look and see that not a bunch of money is spent on equipment.

Leprechaunking13 11 years, 6 months ago

How bout the fact that the lady admitted she SAW the sign and just ignored it, I would find it reasonable and acceptable for people to browse places in both lots but people at eaterys don't usually take the 5 to 10 minutes that would be ok, they are obviously taking enough time for the guy to call the tow company and for the tow truck to get there hook it up and tow it away before the people are even aware of it. This lady saw the sign and read it, new the consequences of being towed and went into panera anyways, then was astonished to find it had been towed, she even thought she forgot where she parked. I don't know about you all but I watch my truck where ever I park it I check and make sure nothing has happened to it while I was away from it you can't trust other people in parking lots or on the road, maybe it's not all the citys fault and is the fault of some of you liberals who can't pay attention to the signs.

drewdun 11 years, 6 months ago

"maybe it's not all the citys fault and is the fault of some of you liberals who can't pay attention to the signs."

I can tell you're really smart.

nbnozzy 11 years, 6 months ago

The tenants of the Louisana Purchase rent those spaces for their PAYING customers. Someone eating at Panera's is taking away a potential sale from said tenants. The woman made her bed......

Toni Brou 11 years, 6 months ago

Okay, I am the lady that got towed. A previous poster said I read the sign and ignored it. No, I did not read the sign, I did not SEE the sign until someone pointed it out to me AFTERWARDS. And I am not the only one--many cars were towed that day, and many cars have been towed since then. It's not like we all parked there and said, "What the heck." The signs are small, and the type is small. The fact that you can access ALL of those parking spots from ONE just seemed that it was all one lot, one shopping center. There is no curb or median where one lot ends and another begins. I agreed to be interviewed because if it was unclear to ME, I didn't want it to happen to OTHERS--imagine this happening to a person who had trouble getting around, or a senior citizen, for example. I don't usually visit this forum because of the types of finger pointing and rush to judgement that generally occurs. I am surprised there hasn't been more, and for those of you who understand, thank you.

conservative 11 years, 6 months ago

For everyone who thinks it's unreasonable for the rightful owner of those spots to protect them for their businesses I have a suggestion.

Please post your addresses online. We'll feel free to use your driveway anytime we want and leave our vehicles there blocking you in your garage and hurting you economically since you won't be able to get to work.

We'll see how quickly you decide it's not unethical to call for a private tow then.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 6 months ago

Seems to me, if the owner of the shopping mall doesn't want people parking to go to Panera's, then the simple solution to me is that he should go to the expense of having a concrete barrier installed so that people will know it's a separate business.

But really, he's created a LOT of negative publicity for himself and the businesses on his property with this towing stuff...seems to me that he's cost them a lot of money in the process.

Emily Hadley 11 years, 6 months ago

Making the decision to drive a car simply does not entitle you to park it at your destination. Any KU student or downtown shopper can attest to that. Many Lawrence residents are not even guaranteed parking near their homes.

We can all agree that being towed is a traumatic and frustrating experience, regardless of one's responsibility for where and when a car was parked. This area is, however, very forgiving, very cheap, and very accommodating of excessive numbers of drivers unable to travel short distances without personal vehicles. (Travelling outside of the Midwest US helps one to realize the pros and cons of large parking lots adjacent to businesses.)

Keep your eyes peeled, respect others' property, take great care with your own, and move on.

Leprechaunking13 11 years, 6 months ago

Bulldog said he also has to pay for maintenance, staff, gasoline, 2 sets of signs, were you reading it or did you just pick out what you wanted it to say?

one2no 11 years, 6 months ago

I am with the geeking_topekan.I'll bet the guy driving the truck at bulldog don't make jack.

kjhawk 11 years, 6 months ago

Bulldog lies that was only the numbers for one day. The LPD told me because I went to the LPD after they charged me $100 for blocking my car. They didn't hook anything up yet they were blocking it and said that I couldn't leave unless I paid $100 in cash. The LPD did nothing for me, they said something about the towing companies are protected by a federal law.

don_burgess 11 years, 6 months ago


rationalanimal - finally - a topic we can argee upon. You are actually making sense in this blog. Although I'm sure you have some republican pro-war reason for saying your peice, I actually appreciate your ideals regarding this matter.

By the way - does anyone know what's to prevent towing companies from charging $15,670 for the tow? Is there a way to measure a resonable charge for the "service"? Who keeps these A-holes in check?

not_dolph 11 years, 6 months ago

Posted by Leprechaunking13 (anonymous) on November 14, 2006 at 10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Bulldog said he also has to pay for maintenance, staff, gasoline, 2 sets of signs, were you reading it or did you just pick out what you wanted it to say?

Bulldog wrote - As far as kick-backs. I have never and will never give a property owner a kick back. There is not enough money to pay the drivers, insurance, taxes, fuel, vehicle payments, equipment to do the tows, etc: I have not made any money off this property, and haven't even made enough to pay for the signs.

Leprechaun... bulldog specifically is referring to kickbacks and why he "says" he doesn't give them to property owners... Says he doesn't give them to property owners because there isn't enough $$$ to "go around." Oh, and, he hasn't even made enough to pay for the signs... I think I read it pretty clearly!

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