Archive for Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Town Talk: Vermont Street BBQ to reopen; Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery coming to Lawrence?; CVB announces leadership shift

February 8, 2011


News and notes from around town:

• Indeed the rumors of Vermont Street BBQ making a comeback are true. Chris Brann, the former general manager for the popular restaurant, told me that he plans to sign a lease for a new location within a week. And no, it won’t be moving back to Vermont Street.

“We’ll definitely be on Mass,” said Brann, who said he didn’t yet want to reveal the exact location until he gets a deal signed.

Brann says he did lots of cooking at the former Vermont Street BBQ — which closed in September 2009 after about seven years in business. That means he’s not planning on making any major changes to the food or menu.

“I’ve got all those old recipes in my head,” Brann said. “It really has become a passion for me. People kept telling me how much they liked our barbecue, so I want to bring it back.”

Brann said he hopes to have the restaurant open by late March in time for a certain basketball tournament.

Vermont Street BBQ got started in 2002 in the small space at 714 Vt., but then moved to 728 Mass. in 2004 in what used to be home to another downtown icon, the Paradise Cafe. No, no rumors about the Paradise making a comeback.

• The barbecue scene in Lawrence certainly will get more crowded. As Town Talk previously reported, Famous Dave’s BBQ will open this spring in the former Hereford House location at Sixth and Wakarusa. But one BBQ rumor that is not true is that Biggs BBQ plans to move into the former Old Chicago location near 23rd and Iowa streets. Biggs owner Doug Holiday told me he’s happy right where he’s at, which is 2429 Iowa Street in the shopping center that includes Kief’s Audio Video.

Instead, I’m hearing a rumor that the national chain Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery plans to open in that spot. I’ll work to get some confirmation of that in the near future. According to the company’s Web site, the restaurant offers pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and "brewery classics" such as fish and chips, jambalaya, Mahi tacos, classic mac ‘n chicken, Guadalajara enchiladas, and several cuts of steak. All that is in addition to their beers, which, it appears, are brewed on site.

According to the website, the company doesn’t yet have a location in Kansas or Missouri, but does have several in the Denver area.

• Judy Billings is stepping down from her longtime role as director of the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau, but she’s not stepping far. Billings is giving up the director’s title to focus more time on her duties as president and CEO of Destination Management Inc. DMI is the umbrella organization for both the convention and visitors bureau and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, which will start becoming much more visible in the coming month.

Susan Henderson, who has been the CVB’s marketing director since 2001, will take over as the director. Henderson is a lifetime Lawrence resident and has her degree in journalism from Kansas University. The CVB, of course, is responsible for marketing the community as a destination for tourists, events, conventions and sporting activities.


alfie 7 years, 1 month ago

Rock Bottom owns Old Chicago, they are one in the same only different

alfie 7 years, 1 month ago

wonder if this is going to convert to a Rock Bottom Brewery and Restaurant December 7, 2010 at 2:28 p.m.

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alfie 7 years, 1 month ago

The company operates 35 breweries under the name Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery. These breweries are located in several states, with seven restaurants in Colorado, four restaurants each in California, Arizona, and Illinois, two restaurants each in Washington, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota and Pennsylvania and one restaurant each in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Iowa, Oregon, Virginia, and Maryland. Each of these breweries has a menu that features a selection of American-style cuisine including pizza and burgers, steaks, salads, and desserts. Each region (and sometimes, each store) has its own selection of beers and beer logos. It is rare to find two beers of the same name and/or taste in two different stores. Rock Bottom Brewery is almost identical to the Walnut Brewery concept. In fact, when the first Rock Bottom was being constructed in downtown Denver, it was to be called Walnut Brewery. The store was being built in the bottom of (what was at the time) the Prudential building. The store was renamed Rock Bottom after someone pointed out that they were 'building at the bottom of the rock,' which was Prudential's slogan at the time.[4

Dave McClain 7 years, 1 month ago

Chad, I remember eating at the Rock Bottom Restaurant about 15 to 20 years ago at the corner of 119th and Metcalf in OP. I think the building now houses Alexandia's if I am not mistaken. They had good food, and pizza, and had the "Flights" of beer so that one could sample each of their current brews, usually 6 to 8 types. They were very similar to how 23rd St Brewery now is in Lawrence.


sleepy33 7 years, 1 month ago

The former Rock Bottom building in OP most recently housed a Picadilly Cafeteria, but I think it's actually vacant at the moment. J. Alexander's is a block further down, and still in business.

tcs 7 years, 1 month ago

Rock Bottom was across from Best Buy and is currently an Old Chicago. Picadilly was south of what is now Old Chicago.

yellowdot99 7 years, 1 month ago

Oh Please, Vermont St. bring back your wings. There are no good wings in town since you closed and maybe add a Mango sauce for them. No more having to drive to the Legends just for wings.

livestrong 7 years, 1 month ago

Chad, Do you have any news on the restaurant Jefferson's downtown? I went there to have lunch this afternoon and there was a "CLOSED" sign and a "SEIZED by..." sign on the door, and the locks were being changed. Just wondering if you had any details on this yet?

wmathews 7 years, 1 month ago

Hi livestrong, We're definitely looking into it. Thanks for the tip!

Whitney Mathews Assistant Community Editor for Online

vulcan8 7 years, 1 month ago

I think Rock Bottom will do well in Lawrence. I moved to the north Denver metro area three years ago After spending 10 years in Lawrence. Rock Bottom has always been consistent with both their beer and their food. They have nothing on Free State (but then again, who does?), but it sure beats the heck out of places like sports page, emerson biggin's, etc... On another note, didn't those Hawks look great last night? Rock Chalk! See you soon, Larryville!

pizzapete 7 years, 1 month ago

Good to hear VT Street is coming back. Maybe this time they could come up with a better name, just saying...

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 1 month ago

I went there a LOT and never had a problem with their service. Either way, I'd take the slow service over the crayola Buffalo Bob's serves. OMG those potatoes are horrid (just a hint; quantity doesn't equal quality). And the BBQ is an embarrassment for a place this close to Kansas City. I actually went there twice just to give them a second chance in case they were having an "off" night. It was just as bad the second time around. (And yes, I've had BBQ all over the country. I know the difference between KC, Memphis, New Orleans, Southern and Texas style barbecues. And yes I know Buffalo Bob's is owned by one of Lawrence's prime movers and shakers. I don't care. The food is still bad. I actually took guests from out of town there. I was moved to offer them dinner somewhere else the next night to make up for it.)

7 years, 1 month ago

Couldn't agree with you more...Only difference is I was not willing to give them a second chance because they were off on everything we ordered.

arlo 7 years, 1 month ago

Grandady's BBQ is still the best in town

obamasocks 7 years, 1 month ago

As long as you like every bite tasting like it was soaked in brown sugar for 2 weeks, sure. G-daddys is not my style....bring on V-Street!

MyName 7 years, 1 month ago

I ate at the Rock Bottom in Portland, and it was really good. Closer to 23rd st. Brewery than Free State. And I've missed Vt. Street, although Biemer's has been good enough to console me as far as ribs go.

rumor_man 7 years, 1 month ago

I guess this means that Vermont Street BBQ will be opening up in Jefferson's building.

paperjam 7 years, 1 month ago

I think you nailed it. Weird that Jefferson's is going to end up closing, maybe they can liquidate all those $1's on the wall. Gotta be at least a couple grand.

Tim Quest 7 years, 1 month ago

Is it possible that Rock Bottom is not coming, but rather that they are scouting locations in which to reopen Old Chicago? Same company.

daisyjay 7 years, 1 month ago

So you think Old Chicago is going to re-open in the same place that it was before? Why would they do that???

SeaFox 7 years, 1 month ago

Why would Rock Bottom open a restaraunt in a location that one of their own restaurants is vacating because of poor building management?

MyName 7 years, 1 month ago

If they actually open one of those in Lawrence, I will be one of the people in line for that.

SigEp029 7 years, 1 month ago

I heard Saints Pub+Patio, out of Lenexa, KS, is going into the Old Chicago spot on 23rd and Iowa.

Chad Lawhorn 7 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for the tip. I'll check into that one too. As I hope I made clear in the article, the Rock Bottom item is a rumor. I don't have anything close to confirmation on that, but I know readers have been interested in that location, so I thought I would share what I heard. Chad Lawhorn Journal-World

fosso 7 years, 1 month ago

Vermont Street BBQ coming back!? Thank you, Chris!

Kelly Johnson 7 years, 1 month ago

I sent an email on the Old Chicago website suggesting they check into the old Stone Canyon/Creek building on 6th Street. I'd love it if they relocated there!

LocalLover 7 years, 1 month ago

Can't believe anyone cares about Famous Dave's, Rock Bottom Brewery or Old Chicago. Can't imagine how excited you might get if a new McD's or another Walmart comes to town. Are you all chamber members? Support local and keep Lawrence original. If this guy Chris really brings back Vermont Street BBQ pulled pork and mustard sauce he's gonna be just like my wife, sick of seeing my ugly face everyday. Can't wait...!

Scott Morgan 7 years, 1 month ago

Hi I'm new to town, is there anywhere I can get a good burger or BBQ. You can't swing a dead cat in this town without hitting a burger joint.

Good grief, can anybody say seafood around here? How about a real upscale Chinese joint? How about a good Italian restaurant price fight like they used to have in NKC.

I like a good burger, and BBQ out at times, but like most moderately skilled cooks can do both at times better than any place in town.

Will Soo 7 years, 1 month ago

Aside from a very few talented restaurants in town, Lawrence has very mediocre food. Many of these places shouldn't exist but there will always be enough diners without a clue about food and cooking to keep them in business.

weatherguy48 7 years, 1 month ago

I like Biggs BBQ at 24th/Iowa myself, but I'm sure there are some naysayers 'round here. I like their pulled pork, and it's pretty inexpensive too for the amount of food you get.

obamasocks 7 years, 1 month ago

it has some mediocre restaurants (mostly the chains), but also some fantastic & unique ones. I'd take a burger at the burger stand or dempsey's over a burger in any other city in this state. Just like I'd choose Aladdin's or India Palace over similar food in the surrounding cities. Or an ice cream cone from sylas and maddies. What we need is a really good pie store...

MattRx 7 years, 1 month ago

Burger stand at the Casbah for gourmet burgers or possibly a burger at Pachamama's Star Bar. If you want a really good "Bar" burger then I'd suggest Johnny's North (just over the bridge).

For BBQ I'd recommend going to KC until Vt St re-opens. Biggs is alright, they're pulled pork is usually pretty good and once (out of three tries) they had REALLY good, succullent burnt ends. I don't know if they were amazing because I was really hungry, they had a different cook, or some other reason.

MasterShake 7 years, 1 month ago

When VSB was in it's original location, it was fantastic. After it moved, the quality seem to decline with each visit until we just stopped going. Hopefully the greatness of the original location can be recaptured.

timeforachange 7 years, 1 month ago

Reporting on 'rumors' now. I must have missed that class in Journalism school. What's next news on fairy tales and hobgoblins? More fine crackpot reporting.

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