A new Hereford House concept is coming to Lawrence, replacing the special-occasion steakhouse that closed last summer in northwest Lawrence.
HH Bar and Grill is set to open in late June at 4931 W. Sixth St., inside the 17,000-square-foot space that has been vacant since July's closing of Hereford House.
Rod Anderson, president of Anderson Restaurant Group, which owns Hereford House, said that the new concept - with a larger bar, pool tables and a menu including pizzas, burgers and salad bar - would be a better fit for the Lawrence market.
"The problem with Hereford House in Lawrence - and it wasn't necessarily bad - was that because we were kind of locked into serving such a steak-type menu, the price points over the years had gotten too strong," Anderson said. "With this concept you can still have a great, quality meal, but you can also trade down when you're not looking for a big steak."
HH Bar and Grill will be an affiliate of Anderson Restaurant Group, whose holdings include four Hereford House restaurants in the Kansas City area. General manager for the new Lawrence operation will be Andres Pimental, the current general manager of Hereford House in downtown Kansas City, Mo.; chef will be Todd Brooks, the current executive chef for the restaurant group.
"Everybody's happy, and we're real excited," said Anderson, who is among silent partners in the project. "If they pull it off - I should say, when they pull it off - it's something that can be duplicated in other markets."
HH Bar and Grill likely will have 30 servers, 15 back-of-the-house employees and another five to seven hostesses and bartenders, Anderson said. Hiring likely will begin in a couple weeks.
Renovations and remodeling already have begun. While the western theme will remain, the interior will feature a lighter paint scheme and an expansion of the bar - a hole has been cut into the former "tack" room, to allow for more bar seating and placement of pool tables.
The downstairs meeting room - often used for civic meetings, private parties and other gatherings - will remain largely unchanged, Anderson said. He's counting on the space becoming increasingly popular as people looking to spend $15 a plate will find more options on the menu.
"This will offer a lot more flexibility on what people can spend," he said.
HH Bar and Grill will serve brunch on Sundays, and will be closed Mondays.
In the past, Anderson has cited Lawrence's smoking ban as among the major reasons for closing Hereford House in Lawrence, saying that it curbed the number of customers coming in from out of town.
Now, Anderson said Thursday, he and other principals in the investment group acknowledge that Lawrence is a "smaller market" than other Anderson Restaurant Group locations, and therefore unable to support the traditional steakhouse concept.
"This is still a special-occasion restaurant, but it won't be limited to that," he said.