BBQ ‘joint’ to replace icon

Longtime steakhouse closes, but rooftop bull to remain

January 7, 2008


Don's Steak House closes its doors

Don's Steak House has served its last beef and catfish dinners, as owner Gary Bartz recently closed the operation that opened in 1962. Enlarge video

Don's Steak house has closed at 2176 E. 23rd St., but a new barbecue joint is set to take its place. The new eatery is expected to open by mid-March.

Don's Steak house has closed at 2176 E. 23rd St., but a new barbecue joint is set to take its place. The new eatery is expected to open by mid-March.

Don's Steak House, a grilling institution since 1962 at the southeastern edge of Lawrence, is giving way to a new barbecue restaurant.

Gary Bartz, who has owned the place since buying out founder Don Scott in 1990, has closed the restaurant and sold off its equipment and fixtures to a group headed by a businessman from Wichita. The group intends to remodel and reopen the place as a barbecue joint.

Bartz, meanwhile, plans to rest, recuperate and remember the good times.

"I miss all my customers," said Bartz, still recovering after heart surgery two years ago. "That's the hard part. But not the business part. We have a slow economy here in Lawrence. It's been no growth here for a while. Now I'm just looking to the future."

Bartz has leased his 8,000-square-foot building and adjacent parking lot to a group headed by John Carnes, a Kansas University graduate who runs Rock Chalk Royalties Ltd., an independent oil operation based in Wichita.

Carnes, who has a son attending KU, is working with several other KU alumni to give the old Don's place new life. Included in the ownership group are Steve Comeau, a fellow Wichita resident who is a fraternity brother of Carnes', and John Bush, a friend who recently sold his ownership share of Lawrence Realty Associates to McGrew Real Estate.

Bush, a longtime fan of Kansas City barbecue, helped get the idea going after accepting his friend's challenge to try some of the meats smoked in the style of Carnes' beloved central Texas.

Bush, soon convinced that he'd never tasted anything better, suggested opening a place in Lawrence. They signed the lease for the Don's space Dec. 29.

"It'll be a joint," Bush said. "We're not looking for a fancy restaurant. It will be a lot closer to an Arthur Bryant's experience than it will be to a KC Masterpiece experience."

Comeau said that the new place would provide a "down home, old-world style" decor with a focus on the joint's main attraction: smoked meats.

The group has a goal of opening by mid-March, while adding a new commercial smoker but making few cosmetic changes. A few interior walls will be removed, Comeau said, but the Don's tables and chairs will remain.

Even the fiberglass Hereford bull on the roof will stay, welcoming diners and eyeballing hundreds of passersby from its bolted perch facing East 23rd Street.

"We're going to use certified Angus, so we'll have to paint him black," Comeau said. "Why would we dare take him down?"

Comeau said that the restaurant likely would have about 20 employees, and hiring likely would begin in late February.

All while Don's - which typically had about two dozen employees and a larger legion of steadfastly devoted fans - is added to the list of recent culinary icons to close recently in Lawrence: Joe's Bakery, Bucky's Drive In and now Don's Steak House.

"We were pretty busy, but the problem is business has slowed down in the past couple of years," said Bartz, now 60. "This $3 gas really hurt."


zettapixel 10 years, 4 months ago

That's it... I'm starting up a seafood restaurant like the ones back home on the Gulf Coast. Who wants to go in on it with me?

sourpuss 10 years, 4 months ago

For people complaining about Don's, did you go recently, or in the 80s? When Don ran the place, it was fab. I have to admit I didn't go much after it changed hands. Still, chains ARE boring, people, but if that is what you are used to, then I guess, well, I won't say it :)

Toto_the_great 10 years, 4 months ago

Famous Dave's is a joke. The food is nothing special. Ditto for Olive Garden. The only reason to eat there is their endless bowl of pasta... some friends and I like to make pigs of ourselves occasionally and that is one place to do it, but overall it nothing special.

I agree with the Tin Pan Alley post. My folks used to take my brother and me there all the time. It was great. I went on my first date there (and think, she wanted to go to Pizza hut... I don't think so). I love the mom and pop places. They have good, unusual food. Screw the chains. The Olive Garden in Topeka tastes like the one in KC, and the one in Wichita, and the one in Columbia, MO, and the one in Omaha, NE, and the one in (fill in the blank here).

Restaurants are like chocolate chip cookies. My mom's are the best... and they always have been and will be. Sure those Keebler elves might make a little chewier cookie with more chips, but I can only get mom's cookies in southern Jeff Co. and that's what makes them special.

gbaker 10 years, 4 months ago

We need a good old home town BBQ like the Bum Steer was. Bigg's isn't authentic, Vermont St. is great and the Choke House Oh sorry Bob the Smoke House just plain sucks. Good luck.

Toto_the_great 10 years, 4 months ago

Lamberts is awesome too. Good ol' country cookin'... 16 oz chicken fried steak, sweet potatoes, fried okra, cucumbers and vinegar, sweet tea... crap, I just drooled on my keyboard. I think there are three locations now (two in MO and one in AL). If you are going to bring in chains, I still say Biaggi's... decent food and nice wine selection ( It beats Olive Garden any day. My first JLW post was on food joints. I do love to eat. I can talk about food all day.

KS 10 years, 4 months ago

I found Don's Steakhouse to be dark, dirty and had lousy service. Sorry he didn't clean up the place and stay in business.

blackwalnut 10 years, 4 months ago

Another BBQ place? zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

We must be in Kansas, or something.

cowboy 10 years, 4 months ago

Was never the same after sold by Don , he was quite a character in his day

jayhawktru 10 years, 4 months ago

Hands BBQ in Lawrence is Gran Daddy's!!!!

Duane Mellenbruch 10 years, 4 months ago

Anyone calling Don's Steakhouse food mediocre didn't eat steaks there. Don's was perennially voted "Best Steaks in Town" even up into recent years. The fillet mignons that they prepared were to die for. I went to Longhorn one time this past year. The steak was filled with fat and gristle. I haven't gone back.

On a personal note, my wife and I ate at Don's right before I proposed to her. Since then, we have eaten there on every anniversary. While the decor wasn't able to keep up to the glitziness of newer chains moving in, the food was always exceptional. Thanks for the memories, Don's Steakhouse! You'll be missed!

trinity 10 years, 4 months ago

i'm with the "chains are boring" crowd. i just have never really gotten a good steak at a chain. haven't been to don's in years, but it used to be a "special" dining destination! and i never ever had a bad steak or meal there. either before or after '80; probably has been since '99 or so, since i've eaten there. still, i am saddened that don's is no more.

Bill Chapman 10 years, 4 months ago

When I go to a restaurant, I go for: 1. a clean place to eat(no bugs, clean tables.etc.; 2. GOOD food. Anything else is extra.

You can't eat the decor - why should it matter more than the food?

rgreene 10 years, 4 months ago

Don's Steakhouse = Best Fried Chicken in question...Great place to eat. Sad day.

c_dubya 10 years, 4 months ago

Yeah the service was a little slow and the sides were pretty much average but the smoked prime rib was the best I've ever had that I didn't make myself. My daughter will be sorely disappointed that Don's is gone. Hopefully this new joint will do a decent prime rib.

rgreene 10 years, 4 months ago

I wonder if there's any way Gary will hook me up with the Monday Night Football flag.

Hoots 10 years, 4 months ago

Olive Garden and Famous Daves...LOL Why do people love that garbage? Some of the worst food I've ever had to suffer through. So many good local joints and people want that...jeeeez.

kramdorf 10 years, 4 months ago

Long live Border Bandito!! Is there any other place that has outlasted so many in Lawrence? Yet another name for them to add to their list on the wall. What a perfect location Don's would have been for a Lamberts - "Home of the Throw'd Rolls". It is the only restaurant I have ever been to that is worth a two hour wait.

Eric Neuteboom 10 years, 4 months ago

What a sad day. Some of my fondest meories are from Don's. The food and service had really picked up in the last couple years. Don's will be missed.

And for the _ posting on here whining about how they want an Olive Garden, or a Famous Dave's...move to Olathe brother. You can also get a nice beige house, have your 2.4 kids, complain about the hippies in Lawrence and wear your sweater vests.

Toto_the_great 10 years, 4 months ago

OBTW, mom's secret ingredient for her cookies is love:. and the fact that they aren't made by some mindless robot. Isn't the food at chain restaurants made by mindless robots? I think they are called teenagers and college students.

sourpuss 10 years, 4 months ago

Chains are for mediocre people. I always loved Don's. I remember going as a kid. Such good memories. I had some special dates there too. I'll miss it. Oh, and I agree about the Longhorn - I can and do cook better at home. I never found fault in a Don's cut of meat - always top notch.

trollkiller 10 years, 4 months ago

Thank God for Longhorn. Finally a restaurant with great cuts of meat that are properly prepared. Don's were never good cuts and I think their cooks must have been teenagers. We waited over 45 min last time an had to send them back

lunacydetector 10 years, 4 months ago

historically, bbq joints always have a hard time making it in lawrence.

good luck.

mom_of_three 10 years, 4 months ago

There are a couple of bbq restaurants who have been around for a few years. Who knows, this one could be really good.

Sigmund 10 years, 4 months ago

AB's downtown is the BEST BBQ, in the world, ever. The AB's out by the Kansas Speedway is horrible, I'd rather have MRSA.

terrapin2 10 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence desperately needs an Olive Garden, a Famous Dave's BBQ, and a Boston Market! :-) I miss livin' in a big city with SO MANY MORE choices!

Mike Blur 10 years, 4 months ago

terrapin2 (Anonymous) says:

Lawrence desperately needs an Olive Garden, a Famous Dave's BBQ, and a Boston Market! :-) I miss livin' in a big city with so many more choices!

One of the most idiotically ironic posts I've ever read. I've been to dozens of cities, hundreds of restaurants, and hope every Olive Garden, Famous Daves, and Boston Market will just go away! LIfe is short--don't let the mainstream media tell you where to eat!

Jcjayhawk1 10 years, 4 months ago

I have a few good friends that have worked at Don's for some time. There was nothing fresh or made from scratch at Don's. Penny pinch, corner cut, Gary's poor hygiene and rip off says it all. The only mystique left in that place was Gary's growth on his back that had it's own sweat pattern like a crop circle.

akt2 10 years, 4 months ago

There isn't much on that side of town. If the food is good it might make it. It will draw from Eudora too. A good place to eat over there (if you don't mind the strip mall location) is the Jin Shan Buffet. They have good food and good service.

rtwngr 10 years, 4 months ago

Don's was the worst. Greasy, dirty, dingy, and dark. The food was sub par. Good riddance.

Jeff Rice 10 years, 4 months ago

I'm looking forward to some new BBQ in Lawrence. The best in the area now is definitely Oklahoma Joe's in Olathe. Another good restaurant in that strip mall on the East Side by Jin Shan is Tres Mexicanos. Went there for the first time last Friday and was highly impressed.

KUDB99 10 years, 4 months ago

One of the great things about traveling is sampling the local cuisine. Isn't it sad that we continue to lose the local flavors for the homogeneous "Fast Food Nation" attitudes of prepared, manufactured chain foods. Olive Garden and their ilk aren't bad, but the problem is, the one in Topeka is exactly the same as the one in Atlanta, GA, or whereever else they exist.

It makes me sad when we lose something that is uniquely Lawrence. You may have thought that Don's Steakhouse wasn't the best, but you have to agree that it was uniquely ours. Here's hoping that the new BBQ place can capture some sort of unique local flavor.

ForThePeople 10 years, 4 months ago

8 January 2008 at 8:22 a.m.

Suggest removal

Permalink Anonymous user

cowboy (Anonymous) says:

Was never the same after sold by Don , he was quite a character in his day.

I wholeheartedly agree! The food was great when Don ran the place! I indulged in more than my share of baby back ribs in those days. Don passed away a few years back and I know he'd roll over in his grave to hear the comments about how the place went downhill during Garys ownership.

MattressMan 10 years, 4 months ago

The last several years satisfaction with either the food or service seemed to be hit or miss when dining at Don's.

Hope the new folks air the place out as it really started to become stale in there.

Kyle Neuer 10 years, 4 months ago

"I will admit that I'm not a fan of our local "upscale" Italian joint. It'd be nice to have an authentic Italian place, but Olive Garden is most certainly not that."

Hear that, Garrozzo's? Olive Garden my a--.

LawSW 10 years, 4 months ago

"...We have a slow economy here in Lawrence...." or it just could be that there was very poor presentation of the food on the plate. A steak and only a baked potato on a plate is not a "meal" nor attractive. They couldn't even get my drink right. Then, the person I was with was Muslim and the steak came wrapped in bacon without it saying it on the menu. Yikes! Only went there once and it was a sad experience!

conservativepunker 10 years, 4 months ago

Olive Garden....jeez. It's surprising how many folks think that OG is a "real" Italian place. After living in NYC, I can tell you-- it ain't! :) No chain is. Carraba's, Garozzo's......just do not cut the linguine!!

Tiamak 10 years, 4 months ago

Please don't bring in a Olive Garden, Famous Daves or Red Lobster, they suck. Yeah endless bowl of pasta at a cheap price you can't beat that. Let's be real unless it is a chain restaurant it won't stay in business long out there on the highway, not enough business. If your going to put a BBQ spot there AB is the best. Try a good down home country soul food restaurant. or Bring back Tin Pan Alley the Whole in the Wall and that place that had the huge burger. Or get Mr. Albert Terry to start making Opp's Omelets like he did when he was cooking at Drake's.

otto 10 years, 4 months ago

Bearded_Clam (Anonymous) says:

Too bad that freakin' car dealership that is already going out of business bought out Quick's BBQ: That place was the sh*t!!! Damn you car dealership,

really - it's closing?

akt2 10 years, 4 months ago

I'm glad that they are keeping the cow.

Steve Jacob 10 years, 4 months ago

Let's face it, if you want to drive 30-40 minutes, the best stuff is in KC, no matter what you like due to pure numbers in places.

LogicMan 10 years, 4 months ago

"I hope that we get a Sambo's soon. Their pancakes were the best!"

Ain't going to happen -- a place themed after a highly criticized children's book (Little Black Sambo) wouldn't last for long these days.

Bleufer 10 years, 4 months ago

I agree with the anti-Olive Garden statements. Even though I don't live in L-town any more, I visit it when seeing the fam and I would love to see a good Italian joint there. Thankfully, there is one near me in the Champaign, IL, area (Filippos Pizza & Italian Food). It is a real Italian restaurant ran for the past 30 years by two generations of a hard-working Italian family. A lot of the items are homemade or imported from Italy, and it competes with authentic big-city Italian.

I agree with Toto's statement about Biaggi's... if you bring in a chain, then Biaggi's wouldn't be bad. Lambert's isn't bad either but I don't think it fits well in Lawrence (think smaller big town, like Ottawa, Emporia, or the Manhatten).

Bradley Kemp 10 years, 4 months ago

I've been served better meals on airplanes (in economy) than they can muster at Olive Garden.

cobaltblue 10 years, 4 months ago

In hopes that the new owners will be reading this post... Most bbq places fail because they have crappy side dishes. All effort goes into smoking the meat but then they turn around and serve half cooked frozen fries, watery cole slaw and baked beans from a can. Take a trip to Oklahoma Joes, LC's and AB's and do some research. I don't care how good the meat is, if you serve frozen fries, I am out the door. Spend as much care on the sides as you do on the meat and you will succeed.

HW 10 years, 4 months ago

blue73harley (Anonymous) says:

A Rosedale BBQ West would be nice.

I went to Rosedale's once. I asked for burnt ends. I ended up with a bunch of cubed chunks of beef roast. That's a far cry from burnt ends. The waiter/waitress should have to ask the cook if there are any burnt ends left.

Oklahoma Joes is the best around these parts. Not the one in Olathe either. The original one. Gas station and all.

Memphis BBQ is still the best there is. Beale Street, baby backs, shrimp gumbo, and a beer. That is good stuff.

Toto_the_great 10 years, 4 months ago

What's the BBQ joint south of town near Ottawa (maybe Williamsburg)? Are they still around?

funkdog1 10 years, 4 months ago

Law SW said: "Then, the person I was with was Muslim and the steak came wrapped in bacon without it saying it on the menu."

Um, if you ordered a filet mignon, 99.9999% of restaurants you go to will wrap it in bacon.

trinity 10 years, 4 months ago

guy&mae's is still around&still yummmmmmalicious! makes an awesome destination on the scooters! :)

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

Don's, Bucky's and Joe's all had one thing in common. A decrease in quality.

Consumers select, and they selected to not frequent these businesses.

tvf2k 10 years, 4 months ago

"Lawrence desperately needs an Olive Garden, a Famous Dave's BBQ, and a Boston Market! :-) I miss livin' in a big city with so many more choices!" +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This is the same kind of thinking that allowed LONG JOHN SILVER'S to win "Best Seafood Restaurant" awards from the UDK and LJW. Just can't see how Lawrence "desparately needs" such haute cuisine like Olive Garden (and I don't mind OG or Famous Dave's) - I'd just rather have something that I can't get in 750 cities across the U.S. Whoever mentioned Tin Pan Alley, I wanna party with you cowboy! (or cowgirl)

StirrrThePot 10 years, 4 months ago

I don't want Lawrence to be just another town full of chains. If I wanted to live in a town like that I would move to Topeka or Johnson County. OTOH, I may not have to move since it appears the local places are closing one by one.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

One thing about Famous Dave's, it's one of the few BBQ places where you can get a dry rub rib dish.

But, BBQ is made out to be a lot more than is. It's good, but it's just smoked meat. Not a big mystery or even approaching haute cuisine.

It's popular to make 'cause anyone with a reasonable culinary ability can make it.

blackwalnut 10 years, 4 months ago

Giovanni's on Mass is better than anything I've ever eaten at any Olive Garden chain restaurant.

They have the best creme brulee I've ever had in my life.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

You must mean Genevose? They actually have some good Italian dishes there. And some not so good, but they have a few winners.

del888 10 years, 4 months ago

terrapin2 (Anonymous) says:

Lawrence desperately needs an Olive Garden, a Famous Dave's BBQ, and a Boston Market! :-) I miss livin' in a big city with so many more choices!

For those of us who have lived here longer that a few years, there used to be a Boston Market at 23rd and Louisana (where Panera Bread is now??). Didn't work.

KSChick1 10 years, 4 months ago

I beg to differ on Jin Shan being a good buffet-I have eaten there 2-3 times just to try it and retry it because my kid thinks it's wonderful. I was never impressed and am surprised they are still in business. The most people I have ever seen in there eating was 5 including me and my kid, and the food is terrible. I call it WoofWoof buffet because it's like dog food in my opinion. Not even sure dogs would eat it. I have watched the sushi chef make fresh sushi and tried it eat it-it was gross. Self-serve freezer burnt ice cream in a tub, yuck. Frog legs that have been sitting on the buffet for hours, Disgusting with a capital D.

freeordie 10 years, 4 months ago

Too bad about Don's. I liked the atmosphere and so did my kids. Service was sometimes poor but I find service is regularly poor in Lawrence pretty much everywhere but the brewery on Mass. Grandad's is damn good BBQ and the people are nice. Texas BBQ sucks. FINE, tear down this whole damn town and make it into one big strip mall. Better yet, tear down downtown and build a Wal Mart with a home depot on top of it crowned with a McDonald's. It would be like a huge screw you birthday cake. Ring it with a huge parking lot embossed with a Nike symbol you can see from outerspace so you have somewhere to park a limo Hummer. Damn, that'd be sweeter than Twinkie filling.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

Buffalo Bob's sucks too much to go out of business.

Tanetti 10 years, 4 months ago

Boston Market was where the Pizza Hut on 23rd Street is now, which in turn was where Valentino's Pizza was (yum! I relived their pizza on a trip to Lincoln, Neb., a few years back, where they're headquartered), though Valentino's was in a different structure, which they tore down to build Boston Market.

This town needs a Sweet Tomatoes ... yeah, it's a chain but good, healthy food (if you don't gorge), though it's on the pricey side. We actually drive to the one in OP once a week since our whole family loves it so much.

freeordie 10 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence dosen't have the streets to accomodate increased traffic from real growth. They're too busy maintaining some mudhole like it's the final bullwork in the saving of the environment.

justthefacts 10 years, 4 months ago

Let me chime in to say that Don's hasn't served good food for many years. I got embarassed taking guests there one too many times; orders wrong, steaks tough, salad brown, etc. I prefer giving my money to a local business owner, but if a chain can do it better, so be it.

And I hope they have great BBQ - it's sounding good - smoked meat is the way to go. Granddaddy's has the best ribs, bar none (not the best grade of meat, but the smoke technique is without a doubt the best in town). Try his "Afro sausages" (Patent pending) if you want a new treat and like spicey things. Vermont BBQ has decent food and great sides. A great place to cater events from if you want to go that route. Haven't tried Biggs yet. Guy and Mae's is simply the best meat, but it's too far to go most nights. And if you don't look like a frat boy or a red-neck, you may feel out of place there. So here's hoping we have yet another good BBQ place to support!

And the reason Long John's Silver go best sea food is b/c it is the only sea food restaurant we have!! Wish someone would fix that....

Clickker 10 years, 4 months ago

The problem with alot of these places ( Dons, Royal Peking, Mass st Deli) is that they forgot about service, quality, and quantity. I would put a few other "local" joints in this catagory as well ( Biggs, Herford H, ZignMacs, BBobs, etc). 1) I dont think they properly TRAIN their employees. Most waitstaff in Lawrence would not last 2 weeks in a big city restaraunt. 2) Use GOOD ingredients and cook it well. It simply does not cost incrementally more to do that. 3) When I get a hamburger at one of the aforementioned restaraunts and I get about 10 french fries, it Pi$$es me off! I mean how much more cost is it to "pile it on" than to weigh it out and skimp?? Go ask Arthur Bryant downtown--they PILE on the grub, and the people flock there, if anything because of percieved value.

I just think Lawrence is a complacent city were most folks just do know better stuff. At least in the short run. In the long run, the pretenders get run out

Evan Ridenour 10 years, 4 months ago

If I see one more post of someone begging for americanized "Italian" restaurants I think I am going to puke.

I feel sad for anyone who thinks places like Olive Garden even marginally represent good Italian food.

Evan Ridenour 10 years, 4 months ago

"funkdog1 (Anonymous) says:

Law SW said: "Then, the person I was with was Muslim and the steak came wrapped in bacon without it saying it on the menu." - Um, if you ordered a filet mignon, 99.9999% of restaurants you go to will wrap it in bacon."

I don't know what restaurants you eat at but I have never had a piece of tenderloin wrapped in bacon... gross.

Staci Dark Simpson 10 years, 4 months ago

Seafood here is soooo disappointing after living on the Gulf Coast. Tried Red Lobster a few years back and it was awful compared to good ol gulf coast pop in your mouth shrimp! I miss Valentino's what a good place that was! As for Don's it was ok, never really impressed by it for the price. We need some good BBQ, though I live in TOngie and Daniels here is decent. The Competition #9 BBQ sauce is to die for!

countrygirl 10 years, 4 months ago

Anybody know if the fish place that went in at 19th and Haskell is still open? I had heard from some co-workers that they were pretty decent. I guess the new Southern place that went in on Mass is good too, but I haven't tried it myself yet.

trinity 10 years, 4 months ago

i'm thinkin' if anyone ever felt out of place at guy&mae's, then they've got some sort of complex&often feel that way. there's a far broader mix than frat boys&rednecks! and the staff is as friendly to one as they are to another regardless of someone's label.

gawd what i wouldn't give for a big ol' combo samwich from there right NOW! :)

LittleMissFlea 10 years, 4 months ago

Southern Cuisine on Mass isn't half bad. I went about a week after they opened and there were some kinks, but it has a lot of potential based on the food that I had.

mom_of_three 10 years, 4 months ago

Someone mentioned Memphis BBQ earlier - maybe you can talk the Pig on Beale folks into opening Pig on Mass or Pig in Lawrence. That would be great.
went to Genovese - the food was okay(and a little pricey) a seafood restaurant in town would be great.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

Those of you seafooders, have you tried the oysters at Jefferson's? They are among the best I've ever had, anywhere.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

And, I'd tell you about a little known and fantastic seafood place in Lawrence, but they have plenty of business and I don't want it to get too crowded.

mom_of_three 10 years, 4 months ago

My seafood, unfortunately, is limited to crab, lobster, shrimp, and some fish. Oysters, ick...

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 4 months ago

Marisco's has excellent seafood...

My experiences was that Don's usually had great cuts of meat and the meat was well prepared... but... the salads were weak and sometimes brown and the baked potatoes were awful... I have always suspected that at best the baked potatoes were all cooked early in the day and kept warm with steam... at worst... maybe not cooked fresh daily... and the toasted on one side slice of texas toast was pretty pathetic... The atmosphere was kind of funky but I kind of liked that...

and I won't get into the barbeque discussion... way too many ridiculous comments to respond to... other than I hope the place that is opening up is better than what is already available in Lawrence...

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

Touche informed. Everytime I get excited about eating out in Lawrence, I get equally as excited about eating at my own hacienda, better food, better wine and a whole lot cheaper.

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 4 months ago

kneejerkreaction Really? You think that Marisco's has the same quality as Red Lobster? How many times have you eaten at either place?

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

Mariso's may be a tad above RL, but not enough to justify the prices. Too many cream sauces for my taste. Others may find it ok, or even good.

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 4 months ago

kneejerkreaction Again... if you please... how many times have you eaten at either place?

I'm sorry, I don't believe you know what you'r talking about... other than I'll take your word for it that you don't like cream sauces...

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

....if not, hawk, Joe's is always available....

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

Dunno stuk., however, once is enough for anyone who remotely understands good cuisine. Anyone who thinks Marisco's is even approaching good seafood doesn't know good seafood.

And how many times have YOU eaten at these places? Every Saturday night?

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence, unfortunately, is devoid of good restaurants. There are good dishes here and there, sometimes, but I can't think of a single restaurant that qualifies as consistently "good".

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 4 months ago

Really folks... if you want good seafood try Marisco's... the vast majority of people would not be disappointed...

kneejerk... you have no credibility in this you've praised Jefferson's oysters as the best you've ever had... That says an awful lot... and I have had them... they weren't bad but they were a far cry from what you get at any place on the Atlantic coast...

I grew up being taken to Red Lobster and I only went once as an adult... I've been to Marisco's at least 15 times... I ordered seafood all but once and it was excellent every time... The one time a got a steak it was excellent as well... It does cost a little more than say... Red Lobster or Jefferson's... but it's worth it...

mom_of_three 10 years, 4 months ago

Only been to Marisco's once in recent memory, and that was 2 or 3 years ago. It was okay, and no, I don't like creamy sauces.

mom_of_three 10 years, 4 months ago

But maybe I am not one to judge - i like Carabba's...

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 4 months ago

mom_of_three I've had good food at Carabba's...

kustu4evr 10 years, 4 months ago

There is supposed to be a new seafood restaurant opening downtown.

Evan Ridenour 10 years, 4 months ago

If you want good seafood you need to go to greater Kansas City. If you want great seafood you need to head towards the coast!

Marisco's was a decent restaurant until the head chef left with all of his good dishes. But it was never a great or even decent seafood joint.

james bush 10 years, 4 months ago

Does anyone know if Don Scott was the same person who owned the gun club etc where the Topeka Steak House is currently operating on US 40 east of Topeka? I think he also ran a restaurant there.

toefungus 10 years, 4 months ago

Nothing burns cash like a restaurant. Buffalo Bob's has had decent food for years and always busy. No matter what the food joint offers, if the service is poor, I feel cheated when I pay.

Evan Ridenour 10 years, 4 months ago

"The problem is it's just hard to have really good seafood in the Midwest. I mean, we're quite a ways from the source. I've had some incredible seafood in the Keys, on the docks in Maine, etc."

There are quite a few restaurants in greater Kansas City that have fresh fish flown in daily.. straight from the fish markets on the coast. But for the most part you are right. If you are at most restaurants in the Midwest and you order fish off of the regular menu (especially at a restaurant that is not known for their seafood) you will be getting a frozen piece of fish.

If you don't mind paying for the quality though and you ask around it is easy as pie to find restaurants serving fresh fish.

cowboy 10 years, 4 months ago

Until the Lawrence waitpersons figure out what great service is these restaurants will continue to come and go. My first job was in a family owned 5 star italian restaurant in Arizona. I was trained well but also figured out its pretty easy to be an excellent server , all you have to do is move and respond. I am amazed at how damn lousy most of the service is in Lawrence , much better in KC.

That said I would be hard pressed to recommend a good restaurant in Lawrence , few can provide a solid dinner atmosphere , great service and food to go along with it. Price is not important. most of Lawrence restaurants are trying to be cool while still trying to put a student meal on. It don't work for the long run.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

Looks as if not too many people agree with you stuck. But, don't feel bad, it's not a sin to only have a cursory understanding of what you stick in your mouth.

Well, depending on who you ask....

But, perhaps you could redeem yourself and tell us all the difference between an oyster shucked on the Atlantic coast and an Atlantic oyster arriving on ice and shucked in Kansas 6 hours or even a day later.

kustu4evr 10 years, 4 months ago

That's the problem in lawrence..We often have good restaurants open up but there are so many people stuck at eating at the chain restaurants that the local restaurants aren't around long enough to get the attention they need. Like some people mentioned above there is a new southern restaurant downtown that is good why don't we help make that grow so we can have some more good LOCAL restaurants instead of bringing in big corporations that don't really care about our town.

LT4life 10 years, 4 months ago

Grandaddy's has by far and away the best ribs in town, easily rivaling any in KC...Also, Pachamamas cooked me an excellent filet last time I was there. I have never had a bad experience there.

Evan Ridenour 10 years, 4 months ago

I would have to disagree with you there, of all the BBQ I have ever had, Buffalo Bobs is by far the worst.

And it technically isn't even BBQ.

pomegranate 10 years, 4 months ago

Don's Steakhouse was useless. My husband , as well as 3 others I know became ill after eating there. My husband had ribs that made him ill. Longhorn has the most delicious salmon ever. Marisco's has the best steak I have ever had. A restaurant in Lacey, WA has absolutely the most devine pan-fried oysters in the world! New York/New Jersey area has the very best Italian places. That Mongolian place on 23rd street made me sicker than a dog-also my son-in-law a few weeks later became ill from there. The best seafood/fish is, of course, on the coasts. The best Chinese is in San Francisco. The best Mexican is in So. Calif. The bluberry pie is best in Portland, ME. The best blueberry pancakes are in Mass., up near the Vermont border on Hwy 91.

LT4life 10 years, 4 months ago

Buffalo Bob's is a joke. Absolutely a poor excuse for BBQ, I've had better experiences at Arby's.

pomegranate 10 years, 4 months ago

Gosh, I almost forgot--the best BBQ place in the USA is in Sacramento, CA. It is in a warehouse, with picnic tables, old red-white checked vinyl tablecloths, self service order at counter. It is called the Texas BBQ. If this new one even comes close it will last a long time.

mom_of_three 10 years, 4 months ago

I have a hard time making it to Grandaddy's when they are open. I might have to real soon. All these comments are making me hungry.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

...yep, getting hungry too....think I'll shuck a few Kansas Oysters, throw them onto a pile of BBQd meat and head down to Wheatfields for some bread.... I just have to find the right wine.....

GretchenJP 10 years, 4 months ago

Okay everyone arguing that Famous Dave's/Applebee's/Red Lobster/etc etc sucks/doesn't suck, this is just a matter of YOUR opinion. YOU might hate it, someone else might like it. So don't eat there and let them enjoy it. Personally I don't like Famous Dave's at all. I think Olive Garden is fine but by know means real Italian food. Personally, my favorite BBQ is a tie between Grover's in Topeka and Wyandotte BBQ in KC. I'm not saying YOU have to like it, I'm just saying I like it. Oh and I love Buffalo Bob's.

RaynRavyn 10 years, 4 months ago

Everyone feels the need to argue, repeatedly, that this eatery is wonderful while that one is awful... Obviously, chains have nothing on local establishments, b/c they don't have to care. They exist on the fact people as a whole don't want to think or make a decision. They just want to be complacent with what is familiar... They want to be able to eat the exact same thing down the block, or a hundred miles from home. For those of us with a more refined palate, Lawrence does have a few good spots, and many places that have a gem in the midst of mediocrity. Look around, everyone can find something, without having to resort to chain food made by a 16 year old. BUT, if that is what you are content with, eat there, it leaves more room for the rest of us at the good establishments.

Hoots 10 years, 4 months ago

Ding ding ding...jayhawktru has it right. Grand Daddy's is the best BBQ in town or many town for that. I forget because it's in North Lawrence sometimes but dang that is some good stuff. Once again Olive Garden and Famous Dave's...LOL. Famous dave's is just very salty and that's the only reason it taste good to some people. Olive Garden if for the feed at the trough crowd.

currentcraze 10 years, 4 months ago

kustu4evr makes a GREAT POINT: "....We often have good restaurants open up but there are so many people stuck at eating at the chain restaurants that the local restaurants aren't around long enough to get the attention they need."

So I say... anybody ever visit west Lawrence for dinner? Downtown and 23rd street aren't all of your options. I can think of at least 3 locally owned restaurants that offer Lawrence a hometown quality dining experience. I am personally am sick of seeing the same chains all over the country serving warmed up prepackage foods. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BUSINESSES PEOPLE!

hawklet21 10 years, 4 months ago

Oh, I definitely wish we would get an Olive Garden in Lawrence. Then I could get all purtied up and my boyfriend could take me somewhere fancy!

rlmtyco 10 years, 4 months ago

Oklahoma Joes is pretty good and so is Arthur Bryants but hands down the best is Jack Stack BBQ in Martin City (South KCMO)....ohhh my it is is good, its not a joint, a little higher end but the food doesnt come off as such by any means. I highly suggest it to anyone that is a BBQ lover, ask people from KC and they will tell you the same, alot of people that dont live in KC dont really know about it because it is out of the way and somewhere where you might not stop at normally, they have a few other locations but not as good as the one out south.

I wish we would get an Arthur Bryants down here, think they would do well, was hoping that the old Molly McGees would get a AB's or something like that. But I am dreaming. And to the people talking about Famous Daves BBQ so good, you really need to get out and try some others, venture into the city a little more and stay out of the suburbs

rlmtyco 10 years, 4 months ago

I do like Vermont Street for Lawrence, Biggs came to town and claimed to be top notch BBQ and it isnt good at all, I got burnt ends from there one time OMG, what a joke. I wanted to go get a plate of burnt ends from any numbers of KC BBQ places and bring them down to them and show they what burnt ends really are, I dont even think they know.

Another good place in KC that isnt well known is Johnnys BBQ, they have one off of Johnson Drive and Mecalf and also one is Olathe, portions are huge and its pretty tasty

local_guy 10 years, 4 months ago

Gran Daddy's is the best in town. Don't be scared to go there just because it's next door to the strip club!

GretchenJP 10 years, 4 months ago

Ahhh!! How could I forget Smokey Bones BBQ... how I WISH we had one in Kansas.

GretchenJP 10 years, 4 months ago

I would just like everyone to know THIS is my 500th comment!! Applause! Applause! Who's down for a party?!

Okay Okay... so it's exciting to ME anyway. I'm a dork, I know.

GretchenJP 10 years, 4 months ago

Oooh and how ironic that that 500th comment was posted at MIDNIGHT! Should I buy a lottery ticket?

Jeff Goodrick 10 years, 4 months ago

Don's was good about 15 years ago, we used to go there for the turkey fries. Don Scott had the steakhouse in Richland on Stubbs road south of Topeka. The Topeka Steakhouse was owned by another Don and his wife Red, I don't remember there last names but the died about 10 years ago. The Sirloin was a real good steak but they closed about 30 years ago. In Lawrence, longhorn is the best quality steak and chicken you can get but that's not saying much. As a retired restaurant owner I eaten at a lot of places, Pachamama's and Tellers charge too much for what you get. Now Lawrence does have good sandwich shops but you have to leave Lawrence to find something real good, BBQ = guys and Mays Williamsburg or Pizza Parlor Topeka, Bryants is too dry for me. Seafood you have to go to KC = The Lobster Pot but it will cost you $75 per person, they fly that in daily. Steak you have to go west of Topeka to Puffy's in Maple hill, or the Golden Ox in KC. Chicken = The Brookville in Abilene, or Chicken Mary's in Pittsburgh. Mexican = Pepe & Chela's in Topeka. I don't care for italian or Chinese so I'm not a good judge of that. Hamburgers = Seabrook tavern Topeka, that thing is 3 lbs. Home style dinner Mclouth cafe.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 10 years, 4 months ago

Well, the concensus is that anyone who likes what I like is a genius and the rest of you fools need to get a clue!~)

Seriously, I'm just glad to see there are a couple of places I haven't tried that have a following...even if that following is a vicious pack of monosodium glutamate addicts!~)

I hope to pick up my one month clean token at the next MGAA meeting...been saying it for years!

Clickker 10 years, 4 months ago

SERVICE, QUALITY, QUANTITY ( or should I say "Value")

Lawrence restaraunts just dont have it.

The chains might have it, only because they do have corporate training expectations, and cant , for the most part allow one bad apple to taint the bushel.

wysiwyg69 10 years, 4 months ago

guaranteed, the best steak you will ever have is in topeka at the north star on hiway 24 ,,,a simple plain place but the steaks are the best around and for bbq the old grovers on south kansas ave was the best, now the only one is on gage good bbq does not need sauce, but grovers has the best sauce for the meat or fries

TriSigmaKS 10 years, 4 months ago

This is very exciting! I've been waiting for something like this. PLEASE tell me it will resemble in any way Big Bubba's from Olathe. I drive there a few times a month to get good BBQ. Good luck and I'm curious to which fraternity these men are in.

LT4life 10 years, 4 months ago

I don't know...when I visualize Topeka I lose my appetite entirely...what a dump. Kansas, by and large, is always going to be predominately mediocre when it comes to the majority of restaurants. It seems most people around here equate quantity with quality. Kansas City does have some excellent choices (Ruth's Chris has incredible steak, but it is a chain, and Bristol has great seafood). Kansas will never be able to compete with the coasts for quality of restaurants.

workinghard 10 years, 4 months ago

Can't believe none of the longtime residents did not mention that Lawrence had a Sambo's for many years. Was closed due to bad corporate management company wide. Also, I have always been confused why the book was associated with African Americans when the story takes place in India. Yes, the title calls him black, but he and the tigers are from India.

Was the bull on Don's originally the one that was on a steakhouse on 6th street near Iowa, Ponderosa or Bonanza? I always get the two mixed up. If it's the same one it was also mounted on a station wagon later when the restaurant changed hands.

leadstone 10 years, 4 months ago

Oh,No! NOW where are we to get such disgusting items as Mountain Oysters or Turkey Fries? At times I thought their beef DID come off of the fake bull on the roof. Heck, I'd rather see a McD's standing there instead. But BBQ will do. Good Luck

Celeste Plitz 10 years, 4 months ago

I remember eating at the Lobster Pot when I was a kid...soo yummy. I out-ate my dad on my 12th birthday LOL. I could barely move, I was so stuffed. I also remember a BBQ place that was pretty good and then the owner was murdered-that was back in the late eighties, I believe. So sad. He was a really nice guy.

Anyone remember that place?

rlmtyco 10 years, 4 months ago

Another good BBQ in KC that I didnt remember that in Overland Park amazingly enough is Haywards Pit BBQ

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

cool (Anonymous) says: BBQ would be nice if it featured grass fed-hormone free beef etc.

I'd have a hard time paying $80 for a couple of ribs, though.

Jeff Goodrick 10 years, 4 months ago

That was Bobby Bell's BBQ. Killed by the cook.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

Isn't the word "icon" when referring to Don's a bit over the top?

Clickker 10 years, 4 months ago

Bobby Bells....Carolina style BBQ, and it was yum!. Frank Sauers dad started it up...he moved here from Calif to watch his boy play FB. Lifelong dream gunned down by a dumb kid.

bugmenot 10 years, 4 months ago

"Famous Daves has better BBQ sauces than any place in KC or Lawrence. "

This is the stupidest thing I've ever seen written down.

Tanetti 10 years, 4 months ago

Yes, Fiorella's Jack Stack is fabulous but very pricey. Martin City isn't the only location -- also at 95th and Metcalf in OP, and in the Freighthouse District, next to Union Station, in KCMO. Not sure if there are other locations, but it's worth the price, IMHO.

Bill Chapman 10 years, 4 months ago

What about Boss Hawg's in Topeka? They have VERY good smoking technique, thier meat is excellent, the sides are great, and the place is clean. A very long time ago I used to work for The Bum Steer here in Lawrence. The place was run on a shoestring budget, and wasn't always the cleanest place (we NEVER had bugs while I worked there) - the only problem was the owner wasn't a very good business manager. He is an excellent BBQ cook though.

gontek 10 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence needs an original Italian place that is good like Il Trullo or Cupini's. Even Buca Di Beppo or Cinzettis or Carrabas would be better than Olive Garden.

Best steak I had lately was a the Savoy in downtown KC. No other steak in a restaurant seems that good to me anymore since I went there. Can't go wrong with BBQ, I still like Vermont St BBQ for their pork & baby backs. ABs, Gates, Zarda, Wyandotte, Oklahoma Joes and even the place by royals stadium all offer different, unique BBQ experience. I would try another one too.

GretchenJP 10 years, 4 months ago

You should probably lighten up and learn to take a little light humor. Somebody give him a dollar so he can buy a sense of humor.

jumpin_catfish 10 years, 4 months ago

A lot of comments for a second rate steak house. We stopped eating there because the service was bad and food was average for the price they charged. Never saw the attraction. But we have never had a bad meal at the Longhorn and the service is always good so they get my business its just that simple.

wysiwyg69 10 years, 4 months ago

""" celeste;;; I ate at the lobster pot in kc as well. The first location was at the union station across from halls crown center. It also had a popular steak house next to it . I remember around 1979 is cost 13 or 14 dollars alot then but it was a seafood buffet, god was it good. Then I beleive they moved to somewhere down south on or around state line.

LT4life 10 years, 4 months ago

There also a Jack Stack on the country club plaza now (where KC masterpiece used to be)...

trinity 10 years, 4 months ago

you know, it's sort of funny in a really weird way; all this talk of bbq, smoking meat, etc...and the state is going to ban ciggie smoke. am i the only person alive who has noticed/smelled the smoke belching out of the smokers&cookers?

please don't misunderstand me; just an observation. i love good bbq, smoked meats, ciggies, beer, and pretty much everything else that is bad for me. c'est la vie eh?

blindrabbit 10 years, 4 months ago

Cool's comment about fried chicken seems to be right-on. For many years the several chicken houses (Chicken Annie's, Mary's and Ruth's to name a few) in Pittsburgh, KS have done a great business; the competition seems to bring on more business for them. Also Strouds's in KC, the Brookfield in Abilene and that place in Stillwell/Stanley are famous for the same. Some even serve "family style", and people drive in from all over!!!

On driving back from the Orange Bowl, the other day, we stopped in Pittsburgh, ate dinner and thought about the potential success of such a place in Lawrence. It would seem to have more legs (just a pun) than another BBQ attempt. To truly create a good BBQ experience, the owner should copy some of the many "Texas" ideas.

Good luck which ever way the new owner goes; Lawrence surely is not a sophisticated community as far as dinning is concerned.

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