West Lawrence, get ready for a taste of North Lawrence.
The owners of Johnny’s Tavern, a north-of-the-river tradition since the 1950s, will convert the JB Stout’s location at Sixth and Wakarusa into Lawrence’s second Johnny’s location later this month.
“This is going to be what I call a grown-up Johnny’s,” said Rick Renfro, an owner of Johnny’s. “The bathrooms will be really nice and clean here. None of the tables will be wobbly. It’s going to be a fun atmosphere. You can relive some of your college days without having to get into that college crowd.”
Renfro, who has been a partner in JB Stouts for the past several years, plans to shut down the West Lawrence sports bar and grill on June 28. He hopes to open what he’s calling Johnny’s West on July 20.
The new Johnny’s will include the same old cheeseburgers and pizza that the original Johnny’s does, but will also have a menu that features steaks, pasta and other entrees.
The new location will be the eighth for Johnny’s, with the rest being in the Kansas City area — including one that is under development in the Power & Light District.
Renfro, who bought into the business in 1978, said the newer restaurants have tapped into a trend of Kansas University alumni who wanted to relive a part of their past but couldn’t necessarily get to North Lawrence.
“I can’t tell you on an alumni weekend how many people I have that tell me they spent some of the best times of their life here,” Renfro said. “I tell them that of course they did: They weren’t married, they didn’t have a mortgage to pay, and they were drinking four nights a week.”
In other development news around the city:
• The Blue Heron is closing its downtown Lawrence furniture store after 27 years in business.
A special going-out-of-business sale is under way at the store, 921 Mass.
“It has been a good, long run, but my intuition was telling me it was time to try something new,” said owner Galen Tarman.
Furniture stores in Lawrence have been dwindling since Nebraska Furniture Mart opened in western Wyandotte County in 2003. But Tarman said the biggest change occurred several years prior to that when the Chinese became heavily involved in the furniture industry, and consumer expectations for furniture declined.
“I don’t think people anymore really ask about the construction or how a piece of furniture is made,” Tarman said. “We’ve always tried to play a game of good quality.”
Tarman leased the building at 921 Mass. He said he did not know whether a new tenant had been found.
“I am concerned about downtown,” said Tarman, who said property taxes on the building tripled in a 10-year period. “I can see the day where restaurants will take over the place.”
• Orscheln Farm & Home has filed paperwork with the city to build a new store. The store, 1541 E. 23rd St., has bought a lot immediately west of its store, and is seeking to rezone the property for a new farm and home store.
Attempts to reach an official at Orscheln’s corporate headquarters were unsuccessful, but documents at City Hall indicate the company plans to combine the two lots so that a larger, more modern store can be built on the site.
• A development group led by Serina Hearn has filed for a special-use permit to convert the large, old home at 603 Tenn. into a bed and breakfast.