Archive for Friday, October 5, 2007

Joe’s Bakery closes, future plans uncertain

Students from Kansas University's scholarship halls wait for doughnuts outside Joe's Bakery, 616 W. Ninth in this file photo from 2003.  Joe's Bakery, a staple for KU students seeking late night and early morning eats, is currently closed amid dwindling sales and an uncertain lease situation.

Students from Kansas University's scholarship halls wait for doughnuts outside Joe's Bakery, 616 W. Ninth in this file photo from 2003. Joe's Bakery, a staple for KU students seeking late night and early morning eats, is currently closed amid dwindling sales and an uncertain lease situation.

October 5, 2007


Joe's Bakery unexpectedly closes down

Joe's Bakery closed unexpectedly today in a week in which the owners had already cut store hours to account for slow sales. Enlarge video

Joe's Bakery, hailed for years as a late-night haven for Kansas University students on study breaks, did not open for business Friday morning amid dwindling sales, an expiring lease and a landlord looking for a new operator.

When or whether the shop, at 616 W. Ninth St., will reopen again remains unclear.

"It's closed right now," co-owner Rebecca Hall confirmed Friday morning, after the bakery remained dark following its scheduled 6 a.m. opening. "That's all I can say right now."

Earlier in the week, Hall said that she and her husband, Ron, had no plans to close the business - only that the bakery would be cutting back hours to account for lower-than-expected sales. The bakery would be closing at 2 p.m. weekdays instead of the usual 2 a.m., she said, with a possibility for remaining open late Saturday nights when KU plays home football games.

The decision to reduce hours came after an anticipated boost in demand for hot-glazed doughnuts, cookies and other familiar products - a demand thought to come from the beginning of KU's fall classes - never materialized.

"It wasn't prosperous," Rebecca Hall said earlier this week, of afternoon and evening operations. "You only make $40 in an eight-hour period ... you go bankrupt quick doing that."

On Friday, she said she would not discuss the bakery's situation until after she had a chance to confer with legal counsel.

The Halls' lease expires at the end of this month, and their landlord, Ralph Smith - son of Joe Smith, who founded the bakery in 1952 - said that the Halls would not be staying at the location. They also won't be able to use the Joe's Bakery name, for which Smith says he retains the trademark.

Smith said that he was preparing to find another operator, possibly by auctioning "whole package" off, likely by the end of the year.

"I'm sure not going back into that business," said Smith, who ran the place for 23 years. "I'd love somebody to get in there and take a good swing at it."

Earlier this week, Rebecca Hall said that she and her husband had been exploring possibilities for relocating elsewhere, such as Massachusetts Street or another high-traffic location.

Earlier this year the Halls opened a Joe's Bakery in downtown Topeka. Calls to that location Friday went unanswered.


classclown 10 years, 7 months ago

Will there be a goodbye party and trashing of the place?

kolisach 10 years, 7 months ago

they used to have the best sugar cookies. the ones that they have now are not as good.

Eddie Muñoz 10 years, 7 months ago

Hmm... they'll have to go to Munchers now.:)

Confrontation 10 years, 7 months ago

Wow! It must be due to the fact that KU football played Missouri in KC. What? That hasn't happened yet? Oh, then I don't know who to blame. Darn healthy people!

yankeelady 10 years, 7 months ago

When I was a student, a long time ago, I was a regular. I haven't been in years, not sure why. I hate to see it go, another part of "old" Lawrence is gone. We are becoming Johnson County.

lunacydetector 10 years, 7 months ago

i drive by there everyday....but i never stopped.

waydownsouth 10 years, 7 months ago

Thats so sad. They had the best doughnuts. Joe Smith was such a nice person. I remember him from church as a kid. I hope his son finds someone to reopen the store. .

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 7 months ago

I'm not surprised. Students today are not in touch with the Joe's tradition of 25 years ago.

sourpuss 10 years, 7 months ago

I never liked their doughnuts - too greasy for me - but I am sorry that the bakery is closed. It is a Lawrence institution. I remember that it was closed for some time a few years ago... I'm sure that didn't help things in terms of keeping loyal customers. Perhaps the people running it now didn't advertise enough, I don't know. Closing at 2 am isn't a good idea - you should stay open at least until 3 am if you want to catch the post-bar crowds.

Godot 10 years, 7 months ago

Too bad, and just when I heard a rumor that Gov Sebelius was planning to add a transfat surcharge on the sale of donuts in order to fund free botox for needy 'Boomers.

Godot 10 years, 7 months ago

Note that Jensen Liquor, on the other hand, does not need to not close due to dwindling sales. Times, they are a-changin'.

camper 10 years, 7 months ago

Joe's Bakery has great donuts and pastries. It will be a loss if we lose them. Everyone I know loves the bakery. Maybe we don't make it out enough. I guess we always thought it would be there,

waydownsouth 10 years, 7 months ago

When Joe was running the place things were better. Its when he passed that the place was closed for awhile to decided what to do . I hope he passed some of the tricks of the trade to his son to reopen.

Sigmund 10 years, 7 months ago

Frankly I am more upset that the Pizza Shoppe on Kasold closed. When I was there Monday there was a handwritten sign thanking their customers and announcing their closing.

jhawkdpt 10 years, 7 months ago

Business is dynamic and despite great tradition, some things could change. I'd try to tag team with a local coffee shop to keep Joe's alive. Make it more of a hang out and not just a bakery...

Steve Jacob 10 years, 7 months ago

Pizza Shoppe on 15th and Wak.? Is that what you mean? Whats up with that place. Didn't Movie Gallery close too?

FYI the old Campus Hideaway (next to South Park) I heard is going to be Yogurt shop.

KLATTU 10 years, 7 months ago

I've been eating sandwiches and donuts from Joe's for over 20 years. For many years I went several times a week. A few years back it closed for a little while, and when it reopened it was never the same again. The sandwiches weren't as fresh and were often soggy or stale. The donuts were greasy. When the new owners took over I had high hopes. I went about a half dozen times and the donuts and sandwiches we bought were stale each time. I long for the awesome eggsalad sandwiches they used to serve.

Fatty_McButterpants 10 years, 7 months ago

This is proof that just because you have the original recipes, it doesn't mean that you can make them the way Joe or his son did. I used to LOVE getting Joe's donuts back in the day and was disappointed when they closed. I was excited when these new people took over and it was totally anti-climactic to taste what they were putting out. They were horrible - nothing like the old days. Maybe, if Ralph finds a new owner, it will actually be a BAKER, not a former banker or whatever the heck they are now.

Sigmund 10 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, it was 15th and Wak. I get all those North/South streets in west Lawrence confused.

Sigmund 10 years, 7 months ago

"I never understood why one wound take over a sucessful business, and change things, I can't help but think, if they did things like they did back "in the day" it would still be a sucess."

Possibly because things change? Doing exactly the same thing in an environment where virtually everything else is changing including tastes, economics, demographics, and technology is a recipe for slowly going extinct.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 7 months ago

"Note that Jensen Liquor, on the other hand, does not need to not close due to dwindling sales. Times, they are a-changin'."

I wouldn't be surprised if Jensen's takes over Joe's space. The space they have is way too small for their volume of sales.

Danielle Brunin 10 years, 7 months ago

So is Campus Hideaway Roll Cafe moving somewhere else, or closing for good? I really liked that place and it seemed like they were always busy. I will miss Joe's too, I really like their turnovers. However, it's true that they aren't as good as they used to be. Sigh

Ralph Reed 10 years, 7 months ago

It's the passing of things I remember from my childhood: Campus Hideaway, Joe's Bakery, Keeler's Bookstore to name a few. I used to brag on Joe's when I was being transferred around the country and world. The things I remember most are the hot doughnuts and the doughnut faces. You could go anywhere in this town and be welcomed if you had a dozen hot doughnuts from Joe's.

Oh well, things have been changing for decades and not always for the better. Blame it on what you will: the advent of big boxes, inability of mom and pops to compete with national chains, the growth of Johnson County West. Take your pick. I wonder if today's youth will be saying the same thing 20 years from now - somehow I doubt it.

black_butterfly 10 years, 7 months ago

I am sad to see Joe's Bakery go, but I will say that they were the main cause of my "freshman 15" back in 1981, Or in my case it was the freshman 30. Back then we didn't have all of the choices there are now. I Remember going on a "joes run" at 1 am. Oh the memories! (sigh)

loftie 10 years, 7 months ago

I've been there with the original owners, and with the new ones. Most of the times I've been in there since the new ownership, things taste like they've been sitting there for a couple of days. You can see that they do, too...if you walk by when they're closed, they would still have things sitting in the cases instead of changing them out for fresh stuff.

They've always been really nice though. One day I was in a hurry and stopped in for a cheap tuna salad sandwich, but they were all out. The older lady who works there (owner?) hustled into the back and made me a fresh one, and even packed it up in a bag for me with a drink and a couple of cookies :)

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 7 months ago

This is a good business lesson.

  1. Son of Joe has retained rights to the name "Joe's Bakery" (who knows why?).
  2. He managed the bakery for 23 years (he knows the good, bad and ugly of the business).
  3. The Hall's can't make it work yet, Son of Joe hopes someone will go in there and, "take a good swing at it" (pay him for the name rights - now we know why he retained the rights -and pay him rent until it becomes obvious that the business is simply not profitable any longer).

Observation: This doesn't make any sense.

Conclusion: If the business were worthwhile, Son of Joe would simply hire someone to run it or run it himself. Joe's has passed its day. He's trying to squeeze a few dollars out of what's left of the name. If it smells like doughnuts it is. If it smells like fish...welllllll......

RKLOG 10 years, 7 months ago

Jensen Liquor is usually packed tighter than a tick. Ever try to buy beer there? It's like walking around in a closet full of...well, boxes of beer.

But man those cream-filled bizmarks of yesteryear. R.i.p. and maybe a Dr. Frankenstein will come along and bring you back to life. I will especially miss those especially delicious egg salad sandwiches. But my patronage, despite my always buying more than I planned, was never enough to keep your sugary doors open.

person184 10 years, 7 months ago

Egg salad sandwiches back in the day were awesome!

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 7 months ago

I know, how about egg salad sandwiched between a couple of glazed doughnuts? Sounds like a MacGriddle.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 7 months ago

cool (Anonymous) says: early 70's and Mex restaurant in North Lawrence back then. those were my standard places.

no liquor licenses, so you could just bring in your drink. Then they got fancy and $$$.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 7 months ago

...wait a sec...are those people in line for Joe's or Jensen's? The LJW may have documented Joe's problem.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 7 months ago

since reopening, seems, maybe my imagination, but doughnuts seemed smaller. not quite so good.

remember the original Joe's too. wow. them chocolate doughnuts, yeah!

we bought some from the reopened, but weren't quite so impressed.

too bad. nice location for doughnut shop.

OnlyTheOne 10 years, 7 months ago

It's a shame but I have noticed that today's donuts aren't nearly as tasty as those of a few years back...

Celeste Plitz 10 years, 7 months ago

Ahh the sugar cookies...I love the sugar cookies. And now I'll never taste them again. :( This makes me soooo sad...

Calliope877 10 years, 7 months ago

I liked their chicken salad sandwiches.

burr 10 years, 7 months ago

Its terrible when the little people cant make it in this world. Sorry to hear that about the Halls they were good people and He delivered everyday to our store. We were worried when He did not show up on Thursday morning. We thought something terrible happened to him or his family. I hope that they will be alright, and I pray for a good outcome to them. People were sure dissappointed when we didnt have doughnuts on Thursday morning. And we had hoped for a courtesy call that never came. Good luck to you in whatever you do.

Godot 10 years, 7 months ago

Cool, what was the name of that Mexican restaurant on Vermont, close to 6th street, on the west side? Those were the best tacos, ever.

tunarubber 10 years, 7 months ago

That place had terrible food and rude service. They were also closed on Sundays. What kind of a bakery is closed on Sundays? Wouldn't that be their busiest day? I'm not at all surprised that place is gone.

TheOriginalCA 10 years, 7 months ago

The "Freshman 10" is officially a thing of the past.

MattressMan 10 years, 7 months ago

Godot, I believe that was Wilies Cafe not to be confused with the years later establishment Willie C's

GretchenJP 10 years, 7 months ago

NOOOO!!!! NOT JOE'S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tell me this article is just a bad nightmare. sadness

MerryPresent (Anonymous) says:

"Godot, that was the old Aztec Inn."

Now THAT place I miss!

SamJayhawk 10 years, 5 months ago

I am sad to see Joe's go. I just heard this rumor and had to get on the net to find out. I am coming to Lawrence this weekend and bringing my 6 year old. I thought we would make a Joe's run but I guess not. I was there 88-92 and used to love the sugar cookies and the chocolate covered cherry cake donuts. Give me some chocolate milk and I was good to go. Lawrence is still a great town. It's not the same as when I was in college but it is still great overall. I hate to see more and more of my old places go down and big corporate move in. Unfortunately it happens. Sad to hear Pizza Shoppe closed too. I used to love their spaghetti and meatballs.

misslisa 9 years, 9 months ago

joe's bakery will never be the same without dorthy the one who did most of everything in joes

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