Archive for Thursday, June 9, 2011

Town Talk: Mexican restaurant coming to 1100 block of Mass.; water plant woes over the weekend; time to start over on Horizon 2020?

June 9, 2011


News and notes from around town:

• It will be out with the dancing and in with the tacos. The longtime dance studio and reception hall Camelot II at 1117 Mass. has closed. Taking its place will be a new regional Mexican restaurant chain. Work is underway to convert the space — which is right across the street from the Douglas County Courthouse — into a Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. John Records, his wife, Linda, and two of their children are owners of the area franchise for the company, which has a fairly big presence in Texas and is working its way north. But the restaurant isn’t a traditional Tex-Mex joint. Instead, it considers its menu “Baja-style fresh Mex.”

That will mean fish tacos, shrimp tacos, veggie tacos, Tempura-fried dishes and a special garlic sauce.

“We think that will help set us apart from other Mexican eateries,” Records said. “It is not every place that your taco is full of cilantro and feta cheese.”

The place also will mean Mexican breakfast. The restaurant will open at 7 a.m. to serve both breakfast burritos and breakfast tacos. On Fridays and Saturdays, the business also will stay open until 3 a.m. to get the late-night crowd.

Records hopes to have the restaurant open by the end of August.

• The new restaurant, however, will cause dancing fans to look elsewhere. The Camelot II ballroom had been in Downtown Lawrence longer than you perhaps think. Owner Wade Qanadil told me that he’s had the building as a dance school for about 19 years. The business taught all types of ballroom dance classes, and also rented itself out for martial arts instruction, exercise classes, folk dancing clubs and other events that needed a wide open indoor space. But Qanadil also owns a large facility — Camelot — in Overland Park, and he said activity at the Lawrence location just wasn’t keeping up.

“I basically just decided to concentrate on my business here,” said Qanadil, who continues to own the Lawrence building.

• Those of you rooting against a rate increase for your water and sewer bills had a bad weekend. Crews in the city’s water department were hustling over the weekend as water levels rose dramatically on the Kansas River. The debris that comes with rising water on the Kaw ended up plugging the main water intake for the Kaw Water Treatment plant near Burcham Park. Traditionally, the plant has had a secondary water intake, but that intake has been damaged for several years and is no longer operable. This weekend’s event, therefore, meant that the entire Kaw Plant had to be shut down. City crews worked hard to get additional capacity up and running at the Clinton Water Treatment Plant so that facility could supply water to the entire city. City Manager David Corliss said the operation was successful and city residents didn’t have any disruption in water service, nor did water pressure ever drop low enough to endanger the city’s fire protection system.

But Corliss also told me that he plans on recommending to city commissioners that the 2013 budget include funding to fix the secondary intake at the Kaw Plant. But that multi-million dollar project will require a rate increase. The project has been on a list of proposed improvements for several years, but past city commissions have been reluctant to increase water rates to the degree necessary to fund the project. Last year, city staff member recommended an increase that would have fixed the intake, but city commissioners opted for no rate increase for either water or sewer fees due to the tight economy. We’ll see what this new commission does.

As for the Kaw Plant today, the debris has been cleared and it is back online. It is not believed that the debris did any damage to the plant’s one remaining intake, but as Corliss noted, the intake is kind of tough to see.

• If you are the type of person who spends a lot of time thinking about the city’s planning documents, first of all, my condolences. But Tuesday’s City Commission meeting had a roomful of such people, and one comment at that meeting got a lot of people’s attention. The comment was that it is time for the city and the county to start over with a new comprehensive plan. Former City Commissioner Rob Chestnut showed up at the meeting to tell commissioners that he thought the time was quickly approaching to replace Horizon 2020, the city and county’s top planning document.

He said the document is becoming badly outdated. The plan defines areas of the county called “urban growth areas.” Those are the areas where urban-style development are likely to happen. But those are becoming less relevant. He pointed to the recent decision by the County Commission to allow Berry Plastics to build a 675,000-square-foot warehouse and printing plant outside of the urban growth area. Such a development is not exactly rural. He also pointed out that parts of Horizon 2020 still call for the area around the Lawrence Municipal Airport to become a major industrial center. But that doesn’t square with other parts of the plan that call for protecting prime farmland and limiting development in flood-prone areas. The bottomline, Chestnut said, is that the plan is contradicting itself in many places now. He thinks that is a sign of age, and the best course would be to start anew.

That would be a major process. I covered the creation of Horizon 2020 back in the early 1990s, and it was a multi-year process of contentious meetings on topics that most ordinary people had no comprehension of. But, true to our heritage, we argued about it. In fact, the goal was to have a new comprehensive plan in place before 1995, since the old plan was titled Plan ’95. But we argued about the provisions of Horizon 2020 so much that none of the government agencies met the 1995 deadline. The Planning Commission didn’t approve the document until May 1996. The City Commission didn’t approve it until January 1997. And the County Commission really took its time and didn’t approve it until May 1998. But here is the key date to remember. Planners started working on drafting Horizon 2020 in 1992. In other words, it took them six years to develop this one plan.


xclusive85 6 years, 10 months ago

"And the County Commission really took its time and didn’t approve it until May 1998. But here is the key date to remember. Planners started working on drafting Horizon 2020 in 1992. In other words, it took them eight years to develop this one plan."

Math teachers needed badly! From this sentence, looks like it took six years to develop the plan.

xclusive85 6 years, 10 months ago

Well, I probably should have put quote instead of sentence.

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 10 months ago

You're right. Sorry about that. Too early in the morning when I wrote this. I've changed it. Thanks, Chad Lawhorn Journal-World

xclusive85 6 years, 10 months ago

No prob! I read everyone of them. They are great and very informative.

ecogirl20 6 years, 10 months ago

Just what downtown needs... another place to get a taco.

pizzapete 6 years, 10 months ago

Fuzzy's tacos, now that's a strange name for a restaurant. I'm guessing they bought into this space before they knew Treanor was going to be hijacking the afternoon and early evening parking along South Park.

Does anyone remember when the city put in the parking garage on New Hampshire St. in hopes that it would encourage building of more retail spaces that would mirror the historic brick buildings on Mass. street? How in the world does a multi-story apartment building fit in with those plans? Or is this all in line with Horizon 2120?

Bill Lee 6 years, 10 months ago

I'd ;never noticed Camelot II. That must say something about how often I go downtown. Or it says something about their signage and lack of advertising.

Bob Forer 6 years, 10 months ago

I give them a year. Why patronize a chain "Mexican" restaurant when there are several locally owned and family operated authentic Mexican restaurants with fabulous food. I enjoy Mexican food, but there is no chance I will step foot in that place.

Will Soo 6 years, 10 months ago

If the food is better, then there is a reason to patronize a chain. Don't get me wrong I'm all for local businesses to thrive over chains but I also will not sell myself short to eating mediocre food if someone's got better, and damned if it happens to be a chain.

Richard Andrade 6 years, 10 months ago

Well, at least you are keeping an open mind about it...

xclusive85 6 years, 10 months ago

Wasn't the owner of Tortas Jalisco supposed to open a restaurant downtown? I think I'd rather go to that.

6 years, 10 months ago

The fact that they did not demand tax breaks makes our family more likely to check them out.

irvan moore 6 years, 10 months ago

does anybody really think we need more mexican food here

Scott Morgan 6 years, 10 months ago

They must bring in Cheez Whiz by the tanker load. Hey beatnik don't forget the cheeseburger joints too.

Fish and Chips, Chicken, Chicago style wienies, cheap fast food Italian, Cascones type family sit down places, German Brat haus, Cuban, anything but more Cheez Whiz.

tolawdjk 6 years, 10 months ago

Someone there needs to look up this guy and check out his menu.

started out as a single cart, then he got a second. Opened up his store front this year across from Coor's Field. All within the time frame of the market tanking.

To call these "hot dogs" is like saying the Mona Lisa is a painting.

Richard Andrade 6 years, 10 months ago

No, we don't. This town is up to it's ears in Mexican and Italian food joints. 200 Mexican and Italian restaurants and only one Indian restaurant? As Wissmo says above, how about we get some entrepreneurs in here that are willing to think outside the box a bit? It's depressing.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

We had another Indian restaurant for a little while.

Apparently there aren't enough folks in town who like Indian food to support two Indian restaurants.

somedude20 6 years, 10 months ago

Try Curry in a Hurry on Mass St next to Brothers. I enjoy their curry more than Zen Zero or Indian Palace (FYI Sammi's Curry in a Hurry is local, he is a great person and the food is tops)

guess_again 6 years, 10 months ago

A new restaurant?

Well, hells bells, lets give out some tax abatements, make a community improvement district, give them a CID tax district, and maybe throw in free utilities and trash service.

Because what we need more of is tax subsidies for food establishments.

We have so few restaurants, after all.

jlzack 6 years, 10 months ago

I would have to agree townie79.... eewie.... & that's all Lawrence needs! another restaurant.

hipper_than_hip 6 years, 10 months ago

"The bottomline, Chestnut said, is that the plan is contradicting itself in many places now".

Horizon 2020 isn't contradicting itself. Local developers and the Chamber of Commerce have co-opted the Planning Commission, the County Commission, and the City Commission to ignore our #1 planning document. It's one thing to follow the plan and fail. It's hypocritical to ignore the plan, fail, and then blame the plan for your failure to follow the plan.

dogsandcats 6 years, 10 months ago

Fuzzy tacos? Like they're covered in mold? Downtown is practically all Mexican and burger restaurants anymore.

Will Soo 6 years, 10 months ago

Mmm moldy tacos..Oh I've already had them at El Mez ;)

EJ Mulligan 6 years, 10 months ago

What about the place at 712 Mass. that it supposed to be Mexican -- is that the Tortas Jalisco folks? Also, when, oh WHEN, is Vermont St. BBQ ever going to open?

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 10 months ago

Yes, 712 Mass (the former Teapouro space) is where we've reported Tortas Jalisco is going.

As for Vt. Street BBQ, I looked in the window today. There is work going on.

Chad Lawhorn Journal-World

Sean Williams 6 years, 10 months ago

I wish I could upload a photo I have of Camelot -- empty with chairs upside down on the tables; but justifiably so, since it was early morning. Frankly, I'm intrigued and encouraged by a restaurant that is willing to serve breakfast, although it's balanced by the willingness to stay open until 3:00 a.m. I was hoping downtown Lawrence might attract something other than the bar and entertainment crowd business. Which menu will be deleted first? Late night or early morning? I find fuzzy tacos alluring at both times, but will the general public?

pizzapete 6 years, 10 months ago

I agree, they should do one or the other, breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner. Being open from early morning to late at night just isn't going to work.

somebodynew 6 years, 10 months ago

Question about the water plant thing - - Why can't they take the money that has been set aside for the treatment plant that isn't going to be built in the SE and use it to FIX the inlet on the current one??? Sounds like just a convient excuse to raise the rates and blame it on a "problem" that should have already been taken care of.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

That's a good question.

Why don't you call the city and suggest it - sounds like a good idea to me.

persevering_gal 6 years, 10 months ago

How many Mexican restaurants do we need in this town?

Kontum1972 6 years, 10 months ago

hmmm i stayed at the fuzzy taco while i was in puerto rico....nice sauce..!

bornon7 6 years, 10 months ago

Would any of you support a German restaurant?! I think if retail continues to tank (thanks for wealthy good old boys who own most of this town), then we should mix it up a little.

stargazer66025 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm excited to have Fuzzy's Taco Shop in Lawrence. I have eaten at their rest's. in Texas many many times, and it is great. Love the fish and shrimp tacos. Welcome to Lawrence Fuzzy's- and ignore the "haters".

Jessica Schilling 6 years, 10 months ago

Diversity of restaurants notwithstanding (and despite the name, Fuzzy's does sound like a tasty concept), it's a real tragedy to lose Camelot as a downtown venue for dance and cultural events - particularly since most other suitable venues in town are prohibitively expensive for smaller groups (i.e. Lawrence's swing, tango and English dance communities) to rent. Regardless of how you feel about tacos, Camelot's closure does mean one fewer creative outlet for people of all ages and interests.

bevy 6 years, 10 months ago

What we need is a restaurant that serves HOMESTYLE food. LIke fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, grean beans with bacon, apple pie and ice cream. You know, just like mom used to make (and still does for my birthday. Love ya mom!)

somedude20 6 years, 10 months ago

they have one next to Buf Wild Wings on Mass St. think it is even called Southern Comfort or something along those lines

blindrabbit 6 years, 10 months ago

Fuzzy tacos must have some Urban Dictionary meaning!

JustNoticed 6 years, 10 months ago

“It is not every place that your taco is full of cilantro and feta cheese.” Thanks be to God.

blindrabbit 6 years, 10 months ago

Lawrence needs:

More Mexican food eateries-----Not Any German food eateries------------ Not More Noodle houses----------Not More BBQ eateries--------Not Authentic greasy spoon-----For sure Authentic 24-hour diner---------------For sure Another Paradise Cafe----For sure Home style/chicken house---For sure Tibetan butter tea house---- For sure New Mexico style cafe------ For sure Cook you own grill------Give it a try More police cars------Too many junkers at Judicial Center now

d_prowess 6 years, 10 months ago

Fuzzy Taco should have opened up next to Pink Box.

rmk 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm soooo excited! I moved here from Texas and Fuzzy's was one of my favorite places back there. Don't think Mexican as in Jalisco or Mezcal. This is a baja style taco shop where you order from a counter; kind of like Esquina but cheaper (2 tacos and 2 sides for 6 bucks) and without the out-of-the-box/left field ingredients. This place will also be a nice addition to Mass because it is open late.

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