Archive for Friday, February 18, 2011

Town Talk: Greenhouse competition to heat up; car dealer locates at Ninth and Iowa; Vermont Street BBQ into old Joe College; run, jump and shot put in downtown

February 18, 2011


News and notes from around town:

• There’s nothing like a warm-up in the weather to remind you that spring is on the way. This spring it also looks like the garden center market is going to heat up a bit. For at least the second year in a row, Manhattan-based Kaw Valley Greenhouses plans to open temporary, outdoor garden centers in Lawrence. Last year, the company operated one center in Lawrence. This year it plans to operate two, with one of them being right across the street from one of the city’s full-time garden centers. Kaw Valley is seeking city approval to set up shop at 3301 Iowa in the vacant space that previously was a used car lot. That essentially is right across the street from the Earl May Garden Center. Kaw Valley also is seeking approval to set up in the parking lot of Checkers at 23rd and Louisiana, which ought to create competition with nearby Westlake Ace Hardware.

• Kaw Valley last year set up in the long vacant Sinclair station at Ninth and Iowa streets. There is a good reason they’re not going back to that location. It is no longer vacant. The Selection, a used car business specializing in imports, has opened at the intersection. It is owned by a group out of Manhattan, but its general manager is Mashhur Zarif Haque, who was an owner of Lawrence’s Custom Highline. That business along West Sixth Street specialized in luxury automobiles before hitting tough times.

“We would like to do the same thing we did with Custom Highline and get into the luxury car market, which we think is underserved here,” Haque said.

As previously reported in Town Talk, Vermont Street BBQ is reopening in downtown. Now, we’ve confirmed where. The restaurant will be going in the former Joe College location at 734 Mass. Vermont Street BBQ owner Chris Brann confirmed he has signed a lease for the location. He hopes to open in six to eight weeks.

• How about we get together downtown and watch somebody put the shot. No, it is not the newest drinking game. Instead, it is the newest promotional idea for the longtime Kansas Relays. The Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau is asking City Hall to close off parts of Eighth Street to hold an exhibition shot put event and long jump event.

Plans call for 10 world-class shot putters to participate in a competition from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20. The event would be held in the middle of East Eighth Street in the 100 block. The street would be closed from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. to allow for setup and cleanup.

Then on Thursday, April 21, long jumpers would take center stage for a special event, also from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. But this event will be on the west side of Mass Street in the 100 block of West Eighth Street. The street will be closed from 11 a.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday. It takes more time to break down the long jump pit, which will be filled with bunker sand that comes from the city’s Eagle Bend Golf Course. (I’m unclear whether that means the bunkers at Eagle Bend will be sandless for a day. If so, it is an opportunity of a lifetime for J-W sports editor and duffer Tom Keegan.)

Also on April 21, a one-mile race will take place downtown, featuring several elite milers who will be at the relays. The race also will be open to the public. The race is expected to take place from 5:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. The race will start near The Bottleneck on New Hampshire, go to East 11th Street, then head to Vermont Street and end near the Lawrence Public Library. Police officers will control traffic in the area during the race.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau is asking for a special permit that will allow alcohol to be consumed in the public rights-of-way during both days of the events.

City commissioners will consider approving all three downtown events at their meeting on Tuesday.


Steven Gaudreau 7 years, 3 months ago

Vermont BBQ should have waited for the Jeffersons space to become available. Instead of spending $400,000 to turn a vanilla box into a restaurant, he could have done it for $75,000.

Keith Richards 7 years, 3 months ago

Are those real figures or one you just pulled from you butt?

jhawkinsf 7 years, 3 months ago

Even if the numbers are guesstimates, the point he clearly makes is that it would be less expensive to move into a space that already had a restaurant in it than to do a build out of a space that did not have a restaurant in it. Putting in a hood (above the grill) and a fire extinguishing system is very expensive these days so my guess is that his numbers look about right to me.

Rae Hudspeth 7 years, 3 months ago

I'd rather they didn't wait for the Jefferson's space to be sufficiently cleaned up. That place was rather unsavory in the smell and the filthy bills tacked to the walls and ceiling. But that's just one customer's opinion, some people like the smell of cooking grease.

CreatureComforts 7 years, 3 months ago

Vermont BBQ...perhaps the worst of the mediocre Lawrence BBQ joints. No need to rush back there...never was impressed.

sweetiepie 7 years, 3 months ago

I loved Vermont BBQ and used to go there weekly for ribs. The last year they were up there, though, the ribs weren't good--I always wondered if that's why they closed?

Lisa Rasor 7 years, 3 months ago

No, the old owner just got tired of running a restaurant and decided to close. My understanding is the new owner is someone who worked at Vermont Street BBQ for a long time. So hopefully there will be a return to the good quality.

What I liked about Vermont Street BBQ is that the meat had a great flavor--without being drowned in sauce.

d_prowess 7 years, 3 months ago

The old Joe College store seems really small. I wonder how many tables they will be able to have.

Love the Kansas Relays events downtown idea.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

Jefferson's is not going anywhere...

So I heard last night. Slight change of ownership/management taking place instead.

We'll see.

jackpot 7 years, 3 months ago

Kaw Valley can use B.P. 9 and Iowa it's closed

LogicMan 7 years, 3 months ago

The gas pumps looked out of order, and the gas prices were off of the sign at the Phillips 66 at Iowa and 25th. Is this station closed too?

seagull 7 years, 3 months ago

Has Downtown Lawrence or the Chamber of Commerce protested the Borders' closure? Did they do anything to try and keep Borders? Love Vermont St. BBQ. Glad it's returning. We need more than restaurants downtown however.

Bob Forer 7 years, 3 months ago

Good idea, but I would think it would be next to impossible for a small group of businessmen in Kansas to exert any meaningful influence at all on the decision making process of a large national corporation, especially, when we are just one of hundreds of cities affected.

magda 7 years, 3 months ago

I am so disapointed that the city may allow Kaw Valley to set up their temporary garden centers. These do nothing but take business from the established businesses that have stuck thru the hard economic times. I hope the city will reconsider the location choices or not let them enter into Lawrence at all. Another example of the city selling itself short.

whitecho 7 years, 3 months ago

Your dollar is your vote. Know who you vote for. Vote wisely.

tcs 7 years, 3 months ago

I wouldn't buy a car from Hariq, and if I did I certainly wouldn't leave the lot without title in hand.

Eugehne Normandin 7 years, 3 months ago

Why bring sand from Eagle Bend ? I thought there is sand being removed from the river a lot closer.

Bob Forer 7 years, 3 months ago

Great idea on the shot event. While it certainly isn't the most exciting event in the world, I had the chance to watch the event up close at the Relays a few years ago, and it was enjoyable.

Horatio Bfor 7 years, 3 months ago

Just got an email that the Lawrence Borders is closing.

svenway_park 7 years, 3 months ago

"Mashhur Zarif Haque, who was an owner of Lawrence’s Custom Highline. That business along West Sixth Street specialized in luxury automobiles before hitting tough times."

Uuuuuh. Rough times? That is if you call using the same cars on your lot as collateral multiple times from different lenders as you screw your bank over for a million and a half, "rough times." Some would call it "fraud."

Buyers, beware.

somebodynew 7 years, 3 months ago

Plus (a bunch) sven I can't believe any lenders would actually float this guy another floor plan after the way he tried to cheat the last ones. It is bad when a bank has to hire a PI to watch the lot and catch him trying to move/hide cars that he has been ordered to keep there.

Oh, and hope that nothing happens to whatever you might buy from him. That is another story.

Bob Forer 7 years, 3 months ago

Its a small lot, and he may have floor planned it with his own money. The worst shyster used car lots buy high mileage but decent looking cars for very little at auctions, jack up the price tremendously , finance the car at high interest to poor folks with poor credit, obtain a down payment which comes close to covering their investment, and sell the high interest notes with recourse (meaning if the buyer defaults, the loan goes back to the dealership) to an institutional lender for a nice processing fee. Even if they have to eat the note after a few payments they still make a half way decent profit, and they repossess the car, shine it up, and sell it again.

My advice, stay away, stay far away from that lot.

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