News and notes from around town:
• You all have noticed the activity going on at the former Old Chicago location near 23rd and Iowa streets. Come Sept. 1, you’ll get to see the end result. As we have mentioned before, Saints Pub + Patio bar and restaurant is going into the space. The owner of the Lenexa-based establishment told me a grand opening is scheduled for Sept. 1. The space will be a mix of concepts. By day and evening, it will be a traditional sports bar with about 45-flat screen TVs and a menu that features favorites such as wings, burgers, sandwiches, pizza and even some pasta and seafood entrees. But around 10 p.m. or so, the large location will transform into a dance club, said owner and general manager Mike Reiner.
“It will turn into a little bit of a clubby D.J. bar,” Reiner said.
What will be a constant, though, is the patio theme. The renovations at the location include building a “four-season” patio area, along with adding more true outdoor dining space. The outdoor space will feature a couple of fire pits. The restaurant also will have a “VIP” patio area, and will offer a private patio that will be available for rental.
This will be the fourth Saints Pub + Patio for Reiner. In addition to the original location on Quivira Road in Lenexa, he has restaurants in West Des Moines and Beaverdale Iowa. Reiner said he had been keeping an eye open for a Lawrence opportunity as he started to notice quite a few customers from Lawrence coming to his Lenexa location.
“We just kept having people ask us for one,” Reiner said.
The business will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
• Say your good-byes quickly. The Dillons store near 17th and Massachusetts won’t be around for much longer. The grocer has announced that it is closing the store on Saturday to begin the process of tearing it down to build a larger, more modern store on the site. As we have previously reported, a temporary pharmacy location will be opened at 19th and Massachusetts — on the southwest corner near the rug shop. (Hey, rugs and drugs. There’s a new jingle in there somewhere.) It looks like the current store will be open through about 4 p.m. on Saturday. The signs up in the Dillons location say that the new store should open in spring 2012, although I’ve been told by company officials previously that the project could take 10 to 12 months to complete.
• I may still have a little purple on me. I ventured into K-State territory over the last several days to check on a tip I received from a Town Talk reader. In today’s paper, we’re reporting that the online sales practices of Kansas State’s Athletic Department will get examined by the Kansas Department of Revenue after it has been discovered that the department’s online store doesn’t charge sales taxes on purchases made at the store. Since I wrote the article on Monday, I’ve since gotten an e-mail from K-State estimating that the amount of sales taxes the online store has not paid is about $4,000 per year. According to the athletic department, the online site did about $130,000 in sales during the past year. About $56,000 of those sales came from inside the state of Kansas, which is how they arrived at the approximately $4,000 mark.
Of course, there is nothing that would stop K-State’s vendor from charging sales tax on all the sales that it makes. (Varney’s for instance, charges sales tax on both in-state and out-of-state sales made from its online store.) Yes, the taxes on sales made to customers outside of the state of Kansas would go to other states, but that’s the type of attitude the Kansas Department of Revenue has been trying to promote among retailers. I think that is what has galled some retailers about this situation. The state has spent years being part of a national effort to get retailers to voluntarily charge sales tax on online purchases, with the idea that for e-commerce to be fair, it needs to be taxed. Then, here’s a state institution that allows an online store to fly in the face of that philosophy. It will be interesting, first, to see if the state determines whether K-State’s policy is contrary to the law. If not, it will be interesting to see if K-State changes the policy anyway.
That may be a tough sale because I expect K-State’s vendor, Team Fan Shop will be opposed to such an idea. That business has more to lose than any other in this issue. The retailers I talked with said not charging sales tax on purchases is a big part of Team Fan Shop’s overall business strategy. Thus far, it appears the strategy has been a good one. Team Fan Shop serves as the online retailer for several of the country’s larger Division I football programs, including, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Oklahoma. Team Fan Shop also is part of a larger Jacksonville, Fla.-based company called Fanatics Inc. It runs the website Football Fanatics. The whole company, earlier this year, was purchased for $277 million. At the time of the sale, published reports said the company had $41.8 million in cash and no debt. I wonder how many of their sales were taxed. On Monday, a representative with Team Fan Shop did not return a call seeking comment.