Archive for Monday, August 29, 2011

Town Talk: New Chinese restaurant to open in former Peking Taste spot; July home building numbers hit new low; more on area gasoline prices

August 29, 2011


News and notes from around town:

• An 8-year-old this weekend asked me this question completely out of the blue: For people who use chopsticks all the time, do they think forks are hard to use? Well, I don’t know, but it looks like you’ll have another place to hone your chopstick skills (or fork skills.) We previously reported that the Peking Taste has moved out of its location at 2210 Iowa St., and is planning to reopen in the Louisiana Purchase shopping center near 23rd and Louisiana. Now, I’ve learned that the landlords for the former Peking Taste building are planning to open their own Chinese restaurant. Will Soo tells me that he is working to convert the building into “Chong’s Chowhouse,” or at least that is the working title for the restaurant. Regardless of its name, Soo plans to have a lunch buffet and then offer an extensive menu for dinner. Soo said he hopes to offer dishes that go beyond the ordinary Chinese fare. In addition to the favorites like General Tso’s Chicken and Beef & Broccoli, expect the buffet to offer “comfort food” from east and southeast Asia. Soo’s family is from the Shandong region of China, so that, of course, means homemade dumplings and stuffed buns. (You knew that’s what the Shandong region is famous for, right?) Plus, Soo said he plans to take some American comfort food and give it an eastern spin. Soo grew up in the restaurant business. His parents operated The Peking Restaurant in the location from 1986 to 1996 before they began leasing the building to the Peking Taste. Soo then went to culinary school and previously has cooked locally at The Thai House, The Eldridge and Pachamama’s. Soo expects the restaurant to open by late November or mid-December at the latest.

• Lawrence builders could have used chopsticks and still kept up with the demand for new houses in July, according to a new report from City Hall. Builders took out permits for just three single-family homes, and took out no permits for duplexes or apartments. Through July, builders have started 58 single-family homes. That is down from 80 through the same time period a year ago. At this pace, there is a real chance builders may fail to start even 100 new single-family homes for the year. The city’s building permit records go back to 1956, and during that time period there has never been a year where builders have started fewer than 100 new homes. So, it is definitely not a stretch to say that it is a historically bad time for the city’s home-building industry, which traditionally has been one of the top two or three job-producing industries in the city.

Of course there are other construction jobs besides new single-family home construction, but the City Hall report suggests work has been slow in those areas too. The total value of building permits issued through July — everything from commercial construction to hot water heater installations — checks in at $52.84 million. That’s down from $59.67 million during the same time period a year ago. At the current pace, the city will issue $90.58 million worth of building permits in 2011. That would still be better than the $75.37 million issued in 2009, but it would be only the second time since 1996 that builders hadn’t started at least $100 million in projects for the year.

We’ll see if home sale numbers for July have given builders any hope for a turnaround. The local home sale report should be released in the next few days.

• I’ve pointed out several times when gasoline prices in Lawrence have been higher than many other area communities. So, I should point out what I found this weekend. As I was driving to and from beautiful Melvern Lake this weekend, I went through Ottawa and saw that gasoline prices there were about 10 cents higher than they were in Lawrence. For whatever reason, gas prices in Lawrence seemed to be significantly below the statewide average of about $3.55 this weekend. But, of course, that was over the weekend. Unless you have a time machine parked in your garage that may not do you any good. (And would a time machine run on unleaded?) Even if it does, I wouldn’t stop at last weekend. Does anyone remember what the average price of gas was in Lawrence just one year ago. According to the AAA report, it was $2.51 per gallon.


alfie 6 years, 8 months ago

Associated Press News) Retail gas prices were mostly unchanged in many cities that are expected to be hit this weekend. Rules against price gouging at gas stations took effect throughout Middle Atlantic states. Authorities will be looking for stations that try to take advantage of panicked drivers.

Pump prices were up slightly overnight, as much as 3 cents per gallon, to $3.44 in Philadelphia and $3.49 in New Jersey's Atlantic-Cape May metro area. They seemed to hold in other areas, rising a penny or so on average in Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas

It's hard to believe the prices here in Lawrence.

Tobin Neis 6 years, 8 months ago

Ooooh Chinese Bakery.. that would be a welcome addition. Chicken Bun and a custard bun would be nice right now.

townie79 6 years, 8 months ago

Chad- any idea what is happening with Sports Dome? they look like they are closed but there is still so much merchandise inside? are they closing or remodeling?

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 8 months ago

Here's a Town Talk that I had back in July that talked about that issue: Basically, it looks like they are closed for good, but I haven't been able to contact the owners. The store's number is disconnected, and there is no sign indicating that the store will reopen. It has been closed since at least July 4. I have not done a records check yet to see if there is anything indicating that a lender has taken over the property. I'll let you know if I see anything of that sort. Thanks, Chad

Mike Hatch 6 years, 8 months ago

I was in KC (MO and KS) this weekend and gas on both sides of the state line were a lot higher than they are here. I was pretty surprised to see that. Plus, while in MO, I filled up and the next day my check engine light came on. I had it checked out yesterday and they said I got ahold of some bad gas.

alfie 6 years, 8 months ago

I do not drink coffee, the price does not concern me.

TheStonesSuck 6 years, 8 months ago

I do not price coffee, the drink does not concern me.

alfie 6 years, 8 months ago

but we don't have a local option for a cheaper gallon of gas

lunacydetector 6 years, 8 months ago

i wonder what casey's in perry is at for their mid-grade? last time i was there, it was $0.27 a gallon cheaper than lawrence's lowest.

Kendra Stevenson 6 years, 8 months ago

Yesterday I bought gas in KCMO for $3.58 and then found out it was $3.45 here in Lawrence. Every so often gas is cheaper in Lawrence than it is in KCMO...

trailertrash 6 years, 8 months ago

Everyone is complaining about the price of gas but when they fill up they walk in and get a bottle of water on a hot day. Gas = $3.49 per gallon. Bottle of cheapest water = $.79 per 16 oz. bottle which equals $5.94 per gallon. Makes sense to me.......

trailertrash 6 years, 8 months ago

KR, I will try to put this in a way even you can understand. If the gas was sold in 16 oz. bottles, as is the water at $.79, it would only be $.43 per 16 oz. bottle. Shame we can't drink gas. It's cheaper than water.............

blindrabbit 6 years, 8 months ago

Is there still a oriental food market in Lawrence?; I think there was one in the Mall Shopping Center!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 8 months ago

It's the builders that represent hindrance. They want Laissez Faire government and non stop building while sticking it to the taxpayers which I say to that..... no way jose'.

Some builders never quit whining and are always wanting tax dollar welfare instead of making it on their own.

I say let's all get behind the true Free Market Concept = no more tax dollars for the real estate industry and no more special interest money allowed in elections. Hear Hear!

Curtis Lange 6 years, 8 months ago

Will is a great guy! I'll definitely give the new restaurant a shot. :)

As others have said, gas is cheaper in Lawrence...just as I pointed out in one of the last gas posts awhile back. Its ridiculous how much people complain about something so petty. "Oh no! We're $.05 cheaper (or more) than xx." You realize the difference is nominal, right? $.50-$1/tank.

pace 6 years, 8 months ago

I saw a cafe in Oklahoma, called 'Gourmet Chinese Restaurant". stopped and ate there, it was great, but to the point, I thought the name was great.
I am interested in having a simple two bedroom with basement home built in town. I have tried but the two builders I have called, never really got back to me. I want a simple house with good handicap access. I have a lot. If someone can recommend someone please let me know. I will call them.

Jonathan Fox 6 years, 8 months ago

I can't understand how new home starts are so low. My house is 6 months old and was still cheaper to have built than 10-20 year old houses of the same size on the market. And this was 6 months ago in the dead of winter when houses already don't sell.

katydid 6 years, 8 months ago

Chad, for your interested 8-year-old: I teach a class of Chinese and Japanese students, and they tell me that they never had any difficulties using forks.

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