News and notes from around town:
• Famous Dave’s BBQ has made it official. The barbecue chain plans to open up in the former Hereford House location at 4931 W. Sixth St. by late February or early March, a spokeswoman for the franchise company confirmed. That long has been rumored, but what is a bit of a surprise is that the restaurant will take the entire Hereford House space, which includes two levels. That means Famous Dave’s will plan to make a major splash in the catering and banquet services business in Lawrence.
“Catering is a huge portion of the Famous Dave’s world, and this will allow us to offer that service in the restaurant itself,” said Dawn Rudd, director of marketing for Concord BBQ, which will own the Lawrence restaurant, in addition to the Famous Dave’s restaurants in Manhattan, Topeka and St. Joseph, Mo.
The restaurant is a full-service barbecue joint, and it attempts to give customers a barbecue geography lesson as well. It offers St. Louis style spare ribs, Texas-style brisket, and Georgia-style smoked pork.
The restaurant is expected to employ a mix of about 70 full and part-time employees, Rudd said.
• While we’re on the subject of barbecue, there had been some question about whether Lawrence’s Gran-Daddy’s Barbecue had closed. It has not. But it has moved from its location near 19th and Haskell. The restaurant now is at 1447 W. 23rd St. in the strip center that includes Party America. It has been open for about a week at its new location.
• If you were wondering just how slow development activity has been in Lawrence, there’s a new report out of City Hall that gives an indication. For the first time in at least the last eight years, the city went a whole year without annexing any property into the city limits. In fact, the city’s boundaries actually shrunk by 2.37 acres in 2010. If you remember, a property owner just north of the TeePee Junction in North Lawrence convinced commissioners to de-annex his residential property. Here’s a look at how much land the city has added in past years:
• 2009: 490.75 acres
• 2008: 467 acres
• 2007: 539 acres
• 2006: 155 acres
• 2005: 19.15 acres
• 2004: 53.5212 acres
• 2003: 257.3 acres
• 2002: 116.3 acres
• I need to apologize for not being a very good storyteller about an odd situation that occurred recently at a City Commission meeting. I reported in Town Talk last week about an audience member who created a stir, and eventually was asked to leave the meeting by a Lawrence police officer. The situation arose from the individual feeling like he did not get a chance to speak on a previous agenda item. As I reported, the man interrupted City Manager David Corliss as he was explaining the provisions of the Kansas Open Meetings Act. When the man stopped talking, Corliss asked him if he was through, to which the individual tersely replied: “Yes, are you?” It was at that point that Vice Mayor Aron Cromwell — who was conducting the meeting since the mayor was absent — called the police officer over.
But there was a key detail that I left out simply because I didn’t see it. The individual, when he asked Corliss if he was through, also offered up — how shall we say it? — a one-finger salute to the city manager. I didn’t see the gesture because I was busy taking notes about the scene and evidently looked down at my computer screen at just the wrong time. But certainly enough people in the room have since told me it did occur.
I bring it up mainly because I have received some comments from readers suggesting the City Commission over-reacted to the situation. So, I thought it was important that those readers have the full story. Plus, when you have sat through nearly 16 years of Lawrence City Commission meetings, as I have, you want to tell any interesting story you can.
That’s not exactly the best story to end the year with, but it will have to do. Town Talk will take a break for the next week, and will return in 2011. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a safe New Year.