Archive for Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Town Talk: Old Chicago to close; home sales continue second half decline; Bishop Seabury prepares for 6th graders

December 7, 2010


News and notes from around town:

• Lawrence’s Old Chicago restaurant, 2329 Iowa St., is about to become an old memory. A manager and multiple employees at the restaurant confirmed the Lawrence location will close on Friday. Lawrence employees weren’t authorized to give any details on the reasons behind the closing. No word yet on whether another business is slated to take the space, which is near the busy 23rd and Iowa intersection.

• Lawrence’s real estate market continues to be in a second half slump, according to a new report. Lawrence home sales in November were down 38 percent compared to November 2009 totals, according to a new report from the Lawrence Board of Realtors. The November slide continued a trend of lower sales totals in the second half of 2010. Officials with the Realtor board said home sales in the first half of the year grew mightily as buyers pushed ahead with purchases to tax advantage of federal tax credits.

But now the second half slump has nearly wiped out those gains. For the entire year, total local home sales are up just 0.7 percent — or eight sales — from the same period a year ago. That brings up the possibility that 2010 homes sales may finish below 2009 totals, despite the aggressive federal tax credit offered earlier in the year.

Some other stats from the report include:

• The median sale price for a home is $159,000, up from $154,900 a year ago.

• The median number of days a home is on the market is 40, down from 45 a year ago.

• 94 newly built homes have sold in 2010, up from 73 during the same period a year ago.

• Bishop Seabury Academy, 4120 Clinton Parkway, has filed paperwork with the city to add portable classrooms to its campus. Don Schawang, head of school at Bishop Seabury, said no decision has been made yet whether to add portables. But he said the private school wants to have the option to add up to two classrooms for the 2011-2012 school year. The school needs the flexibility because it will add sixth grade classes to its curriculum. The new classrooms would be on tennis courts just west of the main school building. The school, which is on the site of the former Alvamar Racquet Club, has other tennis courts that it will be able to use if the portable classrooms are added. Schawang said a decision on the need for portable classrooms should be made in February or March.

• City and county planners are taking steps to better define what types of “environmentally sensitive” lands should be protected as part of future development projects. City and county code has included a provision that calls for environmentally sensitive lands to be protected in certain situations. But planners report the process for determining which lands to protect — and how much must be protected — has created confusion. City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will consider making changes to the code to make it clearer.

The proposed language spells out these types of environmentally sensitive lands that should be protected in applicable situations. It lists them in the order of priority that they should be protected. They are:

  1. Regulatory floodways as determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  2. Regulatory floodway fringe areas as determined by FEMA.
  3. Wetlands as determined by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  4. Stream corridors.
  5. Stands of significant mature trees, which will include at least a half-acre of trees that include many that are 25 feet in height or are greater than 8 inches in diameter and create a continuous or nearly continuous canopy.
  6. Archaeological or historic sites listed on local, state or federal registers.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

What town talk have you heard? Send me a tip at


doc1 7 years, 5 months ago

It only makes sense to close a business that is profitable and always full.

thatonedude 7 years, 5 months ago

Much as I like Old Chicago, I have never seen it full.

KeepAustinWeird 7 years, 5 months ago

I know, right?! This totally sucks!! I LOVE Old Chicago and I go there ALL the time! Great food, great people, great atmosphere, lots of regulars...truly a loss for Lawrence.

If the reason really is related to building problems, I hope they will find a new location here in town.

KansasPerson 7 years, 5 months ago

I am super-disappointed. We really like their calzones, and while we never did make it through all 110 beers or however many they have, we certainly did enjoy the ones we've tried over the years -- even discovered some that are now in our top ten.

We've got to go there this week and have one last 'zone..... or is the final week of a restaurant's existence actually a bad time to go? Are they not ordering new supplies, just trying to use up old ones? I'm not trying to be a smart-a**, just don't know. Maybe someone here with restaurant experience can tell me?

Stuart Evans 7 years, 5 months ago

i can't imagine the owner/manager wanting to sink another penny into supplies. I imagine by Friday, you might be able to get a cheese pizza and a Bud draw.

slowplay 7 years, 5 months ago

Whatever stock (beer, pizza sauce, etc. etc.) is left over will be sent to another location. I've only been there once, about 2 years ago. It was a little pricey, the pizza was average and the AC was turned down to about 40 degrees. We ended up taking the pizza home. There are too many casual dining places in Lawrence, which is a good thing as only the best will survive. I think Chilis will be next to go.

puddleglum 7 years, 5 months ago

no sense at all, but it is funny... gotta be barry penders

Jeff Cuttell 7 years, 5 months ago

It seems all these businesses closing their doors are the same ones I never see any specials or ads for. Old Chicago- Mias (or any business in that spot)- Campus Cloth--etc. I guess that makes sense though. Give me a reason to come to you instead of the guy I have coupon for or know there is a special going on.

Tammy Yergey 7 years, 5 months ago

I will miss Old CHicago. And the people.

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 5 months ago

"I wouldn't take a dump in an Olive Garden" -- Kevin Nealon from Weeds

kanshawk 7 years, 5 months ago

hit them with a going out of business tax.

JGr 7 years, 5 months ago

Sad times, Old Chicago! I used to work there and am nearing the close of my second round on the World Beer Tour. I wonder if all of the WBT completion plaques will go into storage, or head to Olathe or Topeka... Luckily I took mine home with me.

lawrencekansan 7 years, 5 months ago

We were told we could take our plaques with us or have them sent to another site. Not sure what would have happened had we not pursued either of those options.

kuhusker 7 years, 5 months ago

I heard the landlord surprised the restaurant with a demand that they pay 60k in sewer upgrades. The restaurant said "no thanks"

This is all a rumor I heard from a friend, so take with a grain of salt.

Clevercowgirl 7 years, 5 months ago

On to Bishop Seabury...... The Lawrence Schools Vision Task Force just concluded that portable classrooms were out. This was due to the fact that they are fire hazards, and are unsafe during tornados and lockdowns. So, Bishop Seabury wants to add some Portables? I don't know about other parents, but I sure would'nt pay 10K a year for my kids to be put in a portable. I'ts pretty funny to read the high brow school is incorporating the districts trailer trash solution!

Clevercowgirl 7 years, 5 months ago

HopeAnd Change: Wrong on all guesses. Educated in private schools, business owner, and owner of my own opinions, which include some liberal lines, and some conservative lines. P.S., I don't smoke. Ironic, not moronic.

Clevercowgirl 7 years, 5 months ago

No try, hope, just the truth. P.S., I wonder whqt the Alvamar Swim club will think of this.

Clevercowgirl 7 years, 5 months ago

Great. Alvamar will appreciate the blight while they're trying to sell the property. I'm sure that a portable plopped down on a tennis court will really enhance the value of surrounding property.

Brian Hall 7 years, 5 months ago

Bishop Seabury isn't part of USD 497 so they probably don't care about our little task force. If parents at Seabury don't want portables then go to whoever is in charge and say you are willing to accept a hike in tuition. Also, Alvamar doesn't border Seabury so any "blight" is irrelevant. The house three blocks away from mine that I or my neighbors can't see doesn't hurt my property values. As for the properties actually bordering Seabury, I'm sure they like having a private school there and not an abandoned tennis club.

JayhawkAlum03 7 years, 5 months ago

I've heard something similar to kuhusker. Rumor was something about "water problems" and not wanting to pay the cost for repairs/upgrades.

Bummer. First Uno's (okay, that was some time ago) and now Old Chicago.

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 5 months ago

Uno's was the worst place I've ever eaten in this town. I'm sure if you received the same boiled (gray in color) and half- frozen ribs I received there, you wouldn't miss the place either.

JayhawkAlum03 7 years, 5 months ago

You ordered ribs at a pizza joint? That may have been your first mistake:-)

CreatureComforts 7 years, 5 months ago

Can you blame him though, there is such bad BBQ in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area!!

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 5 months ago

Truthfully, it was one of my cuzins that ordered the ribs. X-mas eve birthdays don't allow for too many options...

Stuart Evans 7 years, 5 months ago

I'd like to see a gas station on that side of the street. as far as I can tell, there are none on the West side of Iowa street at all. turning left across Iowa can be a life & death challenge during certain parts of the day.

Jeff Cuttell 7 years, 5 months ago

I heard Quik Trip is coming to 9th and Iowa by Biemers. Anyone else?

Kash_Encarri 7 years, 5 months ago

That would be sweet, but I don't think there's enough room on that lot to accomodate it.

KansasPerson 7 years, 5 months ago

On that old gas-station lot? That was a Sinclair's when I first moved here. I still have my dinosaur that I got there.... he was pretty cute.

jackpot 7 years, 5 months ago

Looks like a used car lot today. F/M working inside and sign for selection group or something like that going up today.

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 5 months ago

I will miss Italian Nachos and their deep dish pizza...

Pitt_Mackeson 7 years, 5 months ago

Had their supreme pizza once, pretty satisfied. I have to say I was quite satisfied the other day after eating at the new Tryyaki chinese buffet on Iowa st. They have lots o' sushi which isn't my thing, but the 10 or so cooked chinese dishes were the best I've had in a long time, especiall the honey chicken nom nom nom good

kristyj 7 years, 5 months ago

jeez, now I'll have to go to Topeka or JoCo for a little big cookie. :(

Robert Sailler 7 years, 5 months ago

Support local businesses - Go to Rudy's Pizzeria.

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 5 months ago

I think Rudy's oven is broken...I have never had a hot pizza from that place. Even when I walk in, I get the same luke warm (sometimes room temp) pizza. Not that I hate the place, but seriously, what is up with that?

doc1 7 years, 5 months ago

Is that the one on the east side of the street near 7th and Mass? If so that place has lousy pizza. Just my opinion, but Wheel Pizza is King for local.

gatekeeper 7 years, 5 months ago

I eat there at least once a week and have since they were up on campus in the little hole in the wall. I have never had anything but hot, fresh pizza.

gatekeeper 7 years, 5 months ago

Rudy's is the best. Those that complain about it have no taste buds. You have to like garlic and fresh ingredients, home made sauce that's made fresh everyday. The treat their employees very well too.

Emily Campbell 7 years, 5 months ago

heard the complete opposite from employees ... and didn't like it either. But they're still in business and that's great for them!!

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 5 months ago

I've heard some horror stories about Papa Keno's too, but they're still in business too...

gatekeeper 7 years, 5 months ago

Funny, because I know a lot of past employees who worked there during college and many that work there now. And know the owners. I call your bluff because I know toooooooo many people that work(ed) there. And I know the owners and they are incredible people and still spend a lot of time there working their butts off making the pizza.

Sorry you have no taste buds. I know people that have moved away that would kill to have a pizza from there frozen and sent to them. Haven't taken anyone there yet that didn't fall in love.

Emily Campbell 7 years, 5 months ago

As do I know a lot of past employees and have heard some of the comments inside the business. Not a bluff, just two people--you and me--who disagree. Same goes for the taste buds comment.

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 5 months ago

@ Truth

Do you mean like the way we supported Sunflower Braodband?

Maxwell Butterfield 7 years, 5 months ago

How sad about Old Chicago... It was one of my favorite restaurants in town.

somedude20 7 years, 5 months ago

I can not believe that people still eat Pizza Hut pizza. That junk has not been good for about 15 years and yet they seem to expand at an alarming rate. I don't get how so many people like their "pizza". If I were Italian, I would be offended that people call Pizza Hut "Italian" at all ( they are as Italian as McD's shamrock shake is Irish).

parrothead8 7 years, 5 months ago

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, WHOA.

McD's shamrock shakes are NOT Irish? This changes everything.

notanota 7 years, 5 months ago

They're over glorified frozen pizzas. The crust is shipped in frozen. The ingredients come pre-packaged and pre-sliced, and the only thing the cooks do is assemble them to order and shove them through a pizza oven.

puddleglum 7 years, 5 months ago

godgawd! next, someone is gonna try to tell me that eggnog shakes from MCDonalds aren't real eggnog.

McRibs are the real thing. pure ribs-never processed or preserved-you can tell they are the best-they don't even have sauce on them. Everything McDonald's makes is fresh. Freshly squeezed french fries, hamburgers made of llamas, and tasty filet O fish from the west side of Clinton lake. pure heaven.

dogsandcats 7 years, 5 months ago

Old Chicago is not authentic chicago-style pizza. I went there once, craving the food of home, and it was gross. Tasted like Pizza Hut.

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 5 months ago

I wish we had a Gino's East here. Best pizza ever!

lawrencekansan 7 years, 5 months ago

I agree. I have been going there for 8 years on a regular basis and have always had good food and great service. I sure wish they could find another spot to move to within Lawrence.

Kontum1972 7 years, 5 months ago

Dominos donates 1.00 to St. Judes childrens hospital for every pizza sold...."go there"...lets cure childhood cancer...i donate out of my check every payday.

he_who_knows_all 7 years, 5 months ago

Nothing says "Private" "High Dollar" School like a portable classroom placed on an old tennis court.

Joe Blackford II 7 years, 5 months ago

Tsssk, Tsssk. Manhattan's Mayor Snerd backed the M A T C's goal of hauling F E M A's Chapman U. S. D. Twister Trailers to Manhattan to house the new N B A F science classrooms. Meanwhile, D H S has promised to only build N B A F to withstand an E F-3 Tornado, seeing as how it would cost too much to withstand the E F - 4s that hit Manhattan & Chapman.

Good Enuf for Govt. Work is the D H S standard, as shown for Katrina.

You K U students should race to M A T C for a 2-year degree in hosting lethal germs.

Mayor Snerd says there are Reasons folks want to live in Manhattan over Topeka & Lawrence. Old Chicago has now become one of them.

rumor_man 7 years, 5 months ago

6th & Wakarusa in the Hereford House location.

Keith 7 years, 5 months ago

They're famous because Dave says they are.

Hoots 7 years, 5 months ago

Most over salted food I have ever eaten.

KeepAustinWeird 7 years, 5 months ago

It's not a rumor...Famous Dave's is going into the old Hereford House!!! Opens Feb 15th!!! SOO excited for that!!

alfie 7 years, 5 months ago

i wonder if this is going to convert to a Rock Bottom Brewery and Restaurant

windex 7 years, 5 months ago

Put the Bishop 6th graders in the Old Chicago Building. Teach them how to run a restaurant so they can grow up and be Business Owners. Fill up the Alvamar pool with topsoil and have the kiddos raise all the produce for the restaurant in it. They can shuttle back and forth between their two school locations on the T.

kernal 7 years, 5 months ago

Old Chicago's parent company merged with two other companies three weeks ago. As always, the least profitable or poorly managed restaurants get closed down.

bocktar 7 years, 5 months ago

Sad to see Old Chicago go. Never the best food and never the best service, but was reliable and had a lot of good times there. Yard House would be a good replacement, but I think we're too small-cap for that. We need a local start for a joint with a large, diverse beer selection.

This stings on top of losing Stone Creek and Z&M so recently as well, even though I'll be the first to say that Stone Creek had been beyond the point of no return for some time when it closed. I'm still bummed about the defrocking of the Thai House.

Of course, real estate / rent really needs to reset to reasonable levels before many other businesses of this type try to open in Lawrence. At this rate, locations like the vacant spot at 31st & Iowa will be raized before they're occupied.

Hope the Casbah is in good shape. I'd be truly depressed if we lost that.

Pitt_Mackeson 7 years, 5 months ago

I still prefer Pizza Shuttle over all the other pizza places in town. Not that it's the best pizza that ever existed, but I do love it (specially double cream cheese with double anchovies) the heart attack pizza pie.

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