Downtown bistro to close Sunday

November 14, 2007


New Hampshire St. Bistro is closing, a little more than a year after owner and chef Michael Levy renamed and moved his Westside Deli & Bistro from northwest Lawrence to the downtown district.

In an e-mail message Tuesday to customers, friends and supporters, Levy said that the restaurant at 811 N.H. would close at 3 p.m. Sunday.

"Unfortunately, timing and market conditions just were not on our side," Levy said.

The bistro has occupied a below-street-level space that had been home to other restaurants - The Meat Market and, before that, The Bleu Jacket - since the building was renovated as the Kansas Seed House.

The bistro's closing comes a month after another downtown restaurant, Thai House, closed at 724 Mass., itself the former home of PrairieFire, An American Bistro.


toefungus 10 years, 7 months ago

This is very sad news. It was a class establishment. I am absolutely certain that if they had the resources to reopen on the west side again with the same old atmosphere, it would work.
Lawrence is a tough place for restaurants, but here is an idea. Let's raise sales taxes, raise the cost of eating out, and help this important sector of Lawrence's economy.

oldvet 10 years, 7 months ago

I should have seen this one coming... the last time we were in there for breakfast, about 3 months ago, the service was POOR. After that, anytime I would suggest going there, my wife would decline, citing the bad experience. They had a great business on the west side that seemed to be always packed, then moved and lost the atmosphere and congeniality. I hope they reopen the WSB...

And you are right-on, RC, you have to be on Mass St. to get the walk-in along with your loyal following, unless you have a huge, unique draw that brings in your crowd.

naturalist 10 years, 7 months ago

I was a fan of and regular at Westside Bistro. Loved the neighborhood feel, which was lost when it moved to NH St location. I wish they'd move back to the west side, which really needs a good restaurant such as theirs. Last month when I ate at NHSB the food wasn't nearly as impressive as it had been back at Westside so that could be improved if they did reopen west. I'd be there in a heartbeat.

institches 10 years, 7 months ago

This was a great lunch- time place for a quiet meeting, but obvious that others had not discovered it. Good luck in the future... hopefully the owners will find a different location that will attract more customers who appreciate the menu.

Soup2Nuts 10 years, 7 months ago

The Westside deli had a good location, good food, decent price, good atmosphere, and good service. Why would someone move a thriving business to a more obscure location with higher prices, worse service and COLD environment. Bring back Westside deli!

kef104 10 years, 7 months ago

Remember that Krauses Fine Dining was also at this location, for slightly over a year. He was quite sucessful there before returning the dinig experience to his home again. Pachamama's is also on New Hampshire and they do exceptionally well. I firmly believe the jinx only applies to those who cannot provide the dining experience that their cost implies one should expect.

Godot 10 years, 7 months ago

We went there early on, but were turned off by the odor of stale, rancid alcohol. Must have been soaked in the carpet. Yuk. Never went back.

Confrontation 10 years, 7 months ago

"Check my previous posts, I told you there would be closings and this is just the beginning."

There have been closings since the beginning of openings :) Are you expecting a mass closing? It seems like restaurants have been closing at a pretty steady rate around here.

jonas 10 years, 7 months ago

"Dollypawpaw (Anonymous) says:

Announcing a definite date for leaving is a bad exit stategy."

Okay, that was awesome.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 7 months ago

oldvet (Anonymous) says: And you are right-on, RC, you have to be on Mass St. to get the walk-in along with your loyal following, unless you have a huge, unique draw that brings in your crowd.

And Wheatfields? I maintain that you have to offer good food at reasonable prices.

blackwalnut 10 years, 7 months ago

This place was ok, but there was always someplace else we'd rather go. They didn't offer anything dreally different. A little more pretentious and expensive than needed in a college town.

Keith Campbell 10 years, 7 months ago

I wonder if part of the difference between WSD and NHB was due to the fact that the changed executive chefs when they moved.

d_prowess 10 years, 7 months ago

I have to say I really enjoyed the food and the atmosphere at NHB and will be sorry to see it go. I never had bad service or smelled any stale odors that others have mentioned. Best of luck to them!

jonas 10 years, 7 months ago

"hawkperchedatriverfront (Anonymous) says:

Check my previous posts, I told you there would be closings"

Wow, what a prediction. I check my crystal ball and. . . restaurants will close! And there will be turmoil in the Middle-East! And you will have to pay taxes!

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 7 months ago

$7k/mo rent, employees, food cost, utilities + misc = $168k/yr to break even. yowza

Jackson 10 years, 7 months ago

I-Hop & Perkins both served better breakfasts for less. We ate there twice, & had to return almost everything for a "re-do". Service was so-so, and the place need new carpet & a 'good cleaning'.

All in all - not (nearly) up to it's prices.

Linda Aikins 10 years, 7 months ago

Their braised pork was nothing but fat. But otherwise, it seemed fine. We also tried breakfast there once but did not go back.

I hate to see anything have to close. Good luck to them!

SloMo 10 years, 7 months ago

I just hope Cielito's does OK - those folks are really nice, their food is good, and their prices are reasonable.

sinkorswim 10 years, 7 months ago

La Familia has been around a long time and isn't on Mass Street. It's one of our favorite places to eat...just avoid it if anything is going on in the area(The Bottleneck and/or the other place).

Marcy McGuffie 10 years, 7 months ago

Well, I know never to take pooks seriously. I can't comprehend why I am wasting words on someone who's obviously not all that bright and seriously lacking in the vocab department (this sucked, that sucked, everything sucked). It would seem to me that your post sucked Let me're either a frat boy or total redneck that laughs every time he calls someone a fag or retarded. Do I get any prizes?

Haha. Thanks for the good laugh, pookiemon!

jerett fulton 10 years, 7 months ago

well, i hate to hear that this place is closing! the eggs benidict was the best ever! i will miss this place : i can't believe so many people had it out for this place. i never had a bad meal there. i know the service was not the best though. i hope he opens another one.

Rationalanimal 10 years, 7 months ago

but here is an idea. Let's raise sales taxes, raise the cost of eating out, and help this important sector of Lawrence's economy

This prescribes a remedy worse than the disease--classic socialist liberal backwards thinking. More government, more taxes, government subsidies and higher costs. The fact is, if government would butt out of peoples lives, lower taxes, stop macro-managing a restaurant like the NHB would be able to actually turn a profit. Lawrence is the socialist mecca in Kansas. While every comparative city is growing, Lawrence is slowly dying. Lawrence is slowly dying because of the socialist policies that clamp down on growth. The solution is not more economic poison--socialist policies--it is to let the free market work its magic.

introversion 10 years, 7 months ago

"The fact is, if government would butt out of peoples lives, lower taxes, stop macro-managing a restaurant like the NHB would be able to actually turn a profit."

1) Aside from the fact that the above statement starts with a capital letter and ends with a period, it's not even a sentence.

2) Learn the difference between "micro" and "macro."

3) Don't talk so much about socialism in relation to a restaurant closing.

toefungus 10 years, 7 months ago

Rational, I agree with you. The idea is stupid, that is why our city commission is considering it.

Lulu 10 years, 7 months ago

I always got a terribly bad stomach ache (food allergy?) after I went to the NHBistro but it was a must if bound. Sorry to see you go. Keep the corporate pig giants away.

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 7 months ago

djnotadj wrote "i will miss this place : i can't believe so many people had it out for this place. i never had a bad meal there." Which reflects my experiences there, as well. I went in perhaps three times every two months, both in their original location and on NH St. My own theory is that a segment of our society loves to kick someone who's down. They percieve weakness and attack, figuring anyone who is weak deserves it. They may not be able to distinguish between what psychologists call "downward social comparison" and socialism as an econo-political philosophy. They often believe that their own perception of how weak NHSB is/was is objective and correct, and since you and I had different experiences we obviously cannot be correct, and we must have no sense of quality, service, or value. They point out the exceptional quality, service, and value you can get at restaurants like Chili's, Applebees, Red Lobster, and Old Chicago, and wonder why anyone would ever go to a second-rate restaurant owned by some independent chef. They likely conclude then that we must also be weak and stupid.

GretchenJP 10 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Katie Van Blaricum 10 years, 7 months ago

Hmm, I quit going to the Bistro when they took my favorite item off the menu (Beef Pot Pie). The only other dish I even liked there was the fried chicken, but I wouldn't pay $16 for it again. I never understood why Michael moved his very successful West Side Deli in the first place, because he had lots of good customers there.

Sigmund 10 years, 7 months ago

Rent's are way too high downtown. Unless you own the building you are in and didn't refinance to cash out equity during the real estate boom, it is virtually impossible for a local business to cover rent or the mortgage payments, not to mention taxes and living wages.

It is my understanding that the Thai House owners have a stake in "Club Axis." So my guess is a lot of the party will move to 9th and Iowa. Good news for downtown, not so good news for those neighborhoods just off Iowa.

Anyway it likely to get much worse before it gets better. Be prepared for a ton of grant requests and give aways for downtown landlords at future City Commission meetings from landlords with LLC and LLP as their last name. I suspect that this City Commission will be best known for putting the con back into "conflict of interest."

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 7 months ago

I make sweeping generalizations and horrific stereotypes, and the only thing 4th_grade_education finds wrong with it is that I named specific chains?

Marcy McGuffie 10 years, 7 months ago

There seems to be mixed reviews on NHB, but I personally hate to see this place go. My husband enjoyed going there every now and then when we wanted a "nice" meal. Their breakfast was alright, but I definitely preferred their dinners. Dessert selection seemed to go downhill after their move downtown...which, I never understood. I never had any problems with service. Hmm...maybe I can get the hubby to take me there one last time...

backyardwino 10 years, 7 months ago

First there was West Side Deli and Market, then Levy made the best decision he's ever made and brought in a class act of a chef, someone that cared about food, and soon became the hit that every body talked about-West Side Bistro and Deli. For some reason, Michael thought it appropriate to move, and change exec's and then we had NHB. The food became lackluster and the service and general upkeep of the place became far less than desirable. On more than just a few occasions, I was very dissapointed. Levy still did his usual meandering around, hovering, and weirding people out, but his new chef couldn't save him this time. Too bad. Should have stuck with someone that can actully cook and cares about customers. There was a time that WSD was spot on any time of the day.

Flap Doodle 10 years, 7 months ago

Following marion's talk on the economics of running a business in Lawrence, Captain Hazelwood will be leading a discussion on navigation.

Write2Know 10 years, 7 months ago

One of the best things about NHB was the classical guitarist that played on Wednesday nights. He is really good. If you get a chance, check him out last night.

igby 10 years, 7 months ago

Marion: In 1989, I looked at the bank building where Tellers is today as well as several other buildings. I was thinking about buying it then. $80,000.

J Good Good 10 years, 7 months ago

It is apparent that folks talking about the death of downtown simply don't GO downtown. Plenty of people, plenty of restaurants doing good business. If a restuarant is not directly on Mass, they better be good, but there are those that make it just fine.

organized 10 years, 7 months ago

omg! I can't believe this keeps happening to our locally-owned businesses! There was just an article in this month's "Lawrencian" about the little guy in business in Lawrence and how they need our patronage - I AGREE, people! First Thai House, Now NHSB, and I heard Bucky's is planning to close soon as well!

Re: NHSB - my husband and I LOVE to eat there and will be sorry to see it go. LOVED the crab cake benedict breakfast and the roast beef sandwich. Liked the new location better than the old - more centrally located for those of us who live on the EAST end of things. SO SAD to see them close. We had mediocre service a time or two there, but the delicious food and nice atmosphere made up for it.

NHSB, Thai House and Bucky's we will miss you!

igby 10 years, 7 months ago

The rent factor downtown is going to get worse.

There's a conspircy that's been planned for sometime now between realtors and the big money builders in town. Here are some of their goals and objectivies.

  1. Break the cash flow downtown and depress it while singing a song of salvation and renewal for downtown. With the help of the Chamber of commerce and the city commission. First were going to threaten to move KU's football games to Kansas City. Then we can move foward with our plan to kill downdown and then take it over.

  2. Win the 2007 city commission election. So we can push our agenda.

  3. Rob downtown of businsess by building similiar substiutes in west Lawrence. Overbuild commercial space so theres a viabile choice so businesses will have other options rather than downtown.

  4. Our money people will buy up as much of downtown as possible. Therefore controlling and keeping the rents high and upward moving so no business survives more than three years there.

  5. Help to raise taxes to force older owners out of business and force them to sell their buildings now and later when we've have full control of downtown.

  6. Buy up major conner buildings like the Masonic temple and make them look empty and blighted in preporation for meeting the governments requirements for blighted districts to qualify later for any TIF or government well fare tax incentives.

  7. Killing downtown is part of rebuilding it so they can get rich by maximizing the grovernment well fare tax incentive programs. The "Civil War Historic District" sounds cheesey but they don't care about that its all about the money they can milk from the tax payer and goverment.

7.Keep college student from spending money downtown. First were going to build the hotel on the hill and then all along Mississippi street were going to build a huge Mall to get the students dollar and keep them from shopping downtown. 1100 Mississippi will be the location. Compton already owns it.

  1. No one will have any reason to go downtown to buy anything except for the leftist hippies.

  2. Conservative Investers that went to KU and send their kids here from all over Kansas are going to invest in de-liberializing Lawrence Kansas.

igby 10 years, 7 months ago

Watch for fires later it worked for Nero in Rome! I just thought I'd warn you.

fetch 10 years, 7 months ago

Good one, Snap-Crackle: "Following marion's talk on the economics of running a business in Lawrence, Captain Hazelwood will be leading a discussion on navigation." . I wondered where the good Captain was sneaking those drinks..... And Marion's probably pouring the drinks, while complaining about the Pig getting 'special' treatment.

lunacydetector 10 years, 7 months ago

why would a business in that location go out of business? simple, it was in the basement of the old flea market. i couldn't tell if the front door was the entrance to the restaurant or an office, plus the windows are dark and the signage sucked. those reasons alone would keep most people from venturing inside. the meat market, the guy who sells meals from his house, and now this business.

it's all about location, location, location.

lunacydetector 10 years, 7 months ago more thing, FYI. Vince Millard, the guy who owned the Sonic Drive-ins in town recently passed away. no mention anywhere in the newspaper. a millionaire before he was 30. owned over 50 something restaurants. i thought he started in lawrence but i am probably wrong.

Sigmund 10 years, 7 months ago

I am glad to hear downtown businesses are doing so well! The next time they come hat in hand for new fire-sprinkler grants and advertising budgets we can remind them that they are doing just fine, they don't need our help, and we can use that money for our streets and sidewalks.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 7 months ago

That Bistro on NH sucked. The wife and I went there. Nothing about the meal, from the quality to the service, was anywhere near what it should have been. Bad service when the place is busy is one thing - but bad service when there's hardly anyone else there is just unprofessional.

That location is not cursed. It's just looking for someone who understands that attractive surroundings are not a substitue for a complete business plan.

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