Archive for Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Town Talk: UPDATE: YMCA shows interest in Lawrence; Punch boxing coming to Sixth and Wakarusa; Smashburger closes Lawrence location; a Marine party

November 8, 2011, 9:59 a.m. Updated November 8, 2011, 1:55 p.m.


News and notes from around town:

• UPDATE: Well, here’s a new twist for those of you following the issue of whether the city ought to build a new $15 million recreation center in West Lawrence. It now appears that the YMCA has some interest in being in the Lawrence market. A pair of members from the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board said today that they have been approached by a regional representative of YMCA to discuss how that non-profit perhaps could partner with the city on a new West Lawrence recreation center. The chair and vice chair of the advisory board and city staff members are scheduled to meet with the YMCA folks next week. From what I hear, the YMCA isn’t necessarily interested in building a new center in Lawrence, but would be interested in running a new facility in partnership with the city. That potentially could save the city some money on operational costs. Parks and Recreation leaders said they are willing to listen to the YMCA, but likely would have several questions about the feasibility of such a partnership. (Like what would dues be, what impact would the YMCA have on other recreation classes across the city, and do you have to dress up as a police man, a cowboy and a construction worker and sing that odd song?) The idea, however, isn’t unheard of. The parks and recreation department of Platte County, Mo., has formed a similar partnership with the YMCA. A representative of Platte County is expected to attend next week’s staff meeting to discuss how that has worked. Lawrence city commissioners at their meeting tonight are expected to have their most significant discussion yet about the idea of building a new $15 million recreation center. Commissioners will consider creating a formal agreement with Bill Self’s Assists Foundation that could help with some private fundraising for a recreation center/fieldhouse facility.

• After a week off, I greet you with a punch. Lawrence real estate broker Doug Brown of McGrew Commercial confirmed to me that he’s brokered a deal for Punch Boxing and Fitness to open in the former Googols of Fun space at Sixth and Wakarusa. The news definitely reinforces the idea that boxing as a form of fitness is a new trend in Lawrence. Previously we reported that Title Boxing Club is moving into a spot near Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa. Punch currently operates a gym in Shawnee. This one in Lawrence will be large, at a little more than 11,000 square feet. Brown said the facility really will be both a boxing facility and a traditional health club. In addition to having a full-size boxing ring, punching bag and speed bag areas, the gym also will have a traditional cardio and weight room area. According to its Web site — which already is set up to take memberships for the Lawrence location — the business offers both boxing-oriented fitness classes as well as yoga, pilates, weightlifting, and speed and agility training. Brown is estimating an opening near the first of the year. I’ll check in with the owners, and let you know if I find out more. I also have found the info on the franchisee for the Title Boxing location as well, so I’ll check in there too. After a week at home on vacation, my wife is encouraging me to dive into the world of boxing — sans headgear, of course.

• By far, the most asked question I got in my house during my week’s “staycation” was: “Why are you still here?” (If I got a dollar for every time either my wife — or now even my 5-year-old daughter — asked that question I wouldn’t have to come back to this job.) Well, I’m still here, but I can tell you one thing that is not: Smashburger. I received word from the company’s public relations agency that its Lawrence store closed last week. The Smashburger became one of the first tenants at the Bauer Farm development at Sixth and Wakarusa, but evidently the concept did not catch on as well as company officials had hoped. It looks like that is the case elsewhere in Kansas as well. The company this summer also closed locations in Derby and Wichita. The Lawrence closing, though, won’t do much to damage the area’s standing as a major food court for nearby Free State High. As we have previously reported, a Burger King is under construction in Bauer Farms, between Wakarusa and Folks.

• Warm up your Happy Birthday voice. (And while you’re at it, drop down and give me 20, you dirtbags.) That’s right, it is time for the annual birthday celebration of the Marine Corps. A group of Lawrence Marines, veterans and friends will hold a public celebration of the Marine Corps’ 236th anniversary at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday at the Dole Institute of Politics, 2350 Petefish Drive. The event will feature a presentation from Marine Col. Mike McCoy, director of the U.S. Marine Corps Group at the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. The Lawrence High School Chorale also will perform. This will be the 20th year that local residents have banded together to celebrate the Marine Corps anniversary. In addition to singing and a featured speaker, the event also includes free cake. (That’s right, dear, free cake. Break out your camouflage party hat.)


Bob Forer 5 years, 11 months ago

Karma is a killa, ain't it, Smashburger.

ksarmychick 5 years, 11 months ago

It's too bad Smashburger charged the tax or I would have tried it out. I wonder how many other potential customers also never ate there because of the TIF.

puddleglum 5 years, 11 months ago

yeah, I will never spend ONE dime in the compton-2.8% tax district.


as if he just can't get enough money already. shame on the city for letting anyone get their new york TIF passed. its un-american and disgusting.

CLARKKENT 5 years, 11 months ago


kef104 5 years, 11 months ago

I too refused to try them due to the extra tax.

Clovis Sangrail 5 years, 11 months ago

I have heard that Smashburger made a tasty burger, but with the special developer tax in place, there was no way I was going to patronize them. With a family of four, including two hungry teens, that's about 50 bucks worth of revenue that went elsewhere due to the developer tax.

There are plenty of other restaurant options in this town, so we won't be dining anywhere in Bauer Farms.

helloannie 5 years, 11 months ago

I ate there all the time....This is depressing.

JHawkFOREVER 5 years, 11 months ago

Sounds great but Lawrence folk wont drive to Tongie for a burger if they wont eat Smashburger next door.

Liberty275 5 years, 11 months ago

If in the area, I'll go to the BBQ joint if it's still there.

parrothead8 5 years, 11 months ago

Or you can just cook one on your grill that will taste as good or better than all of them.

George_Braziller 5 years, 11 months ago

I ate at Smashburger once. Never went back because it was overpriced, not that good, and the service was incredibly slow.

overthemoon 5 years, 11 months ago

Yep. Had a coupon and the cashier didn't know how to use it, ended up with two of everything we ordered, she couldn't figure out how to delete the extras and tried to charge us 25 bucks for two burgers and fries.

Food was ok. just. Very rarely eat burgers, fast or slow, but 5 guys is pretty good.

helloannie 5 years, 11 months ago

Ick. I can't stand the Casbah. So overrated.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 11 months ago

That's fine, it leaves us at least one open seat. Truffle fries!

gatekeeper 5 years, 11 months ago

True - they don't advertise it to be Kobe beef. It's just the name of the burger. It would be a $100 burger if it were true Kobe. Still damned delicious and so much better than a standard burger. The pickled red onions they top it with are so good.

gatekeeper 5 years, 11 months ago

You don't go eat a good burger and fries for health reasons. I take good care of myself, but a good greasy burger and truffle fries a couple times a month is a great treat. I've lost a lot of people I love at young ages and the one thing I learned is you have to live and enjoy life.

I've never gotten sick there and always get my burgers medium rare. I agree if you're eating at a fast food place, I'd want it well done. Not at the Casbah. And you can order it well done.

Amazing all the haters out there. The Casbah has been written up nationally for their great food. They have some nice bartenders there too.

somedude20 5 years, 11 months ago

Dempsey's is the bee's knees. Yes, truffle fries with that great (not watered down) sweet chili sauce! Yum yum kid!

Richard Andrade 5 years, 11 months ago

Prior to the Dempsey's/Burger Stand "divorce" a year or two ago, it was a great burger. Once they split, both suffered for a reason I wish I could explain.

somedude20 5 years, 11 months ago

Yeah I had one back in the day and thanks to the LJW, I got the gist of what went down. I have eaten at the Burger Stand 3-4 times and was never impressed but Dempsey's hit the mark

helloannie 5 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, I'll put you in touch with my friend who used to work there and have her tell you stories....I'm guessing there would be another open seat.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 11 months ago

That can pretty much be said for most restaurants in town, believe me.

gatekeeper 5 years, 11 months ago

I go there a lot and tend to eat late dinners. Must be a disgruntled employee. Many employees getting off the clock eat the food, along with their friends joining them. Sounds like maybe you have a bone to pick since you brought up the Casbah to trash it (it's not mentioned in the article or in any previous comments).

helloannie 5 years, 11 months ago

Because it's one of the other burger places in town, so of course it will be brought up. Follow that? It isn't like I brought up an Italian place. And I have a personal hatred for the Casbah. It's just so scenester. Every wannabe in town just loves it.

townie79 5 years, 11 months ago

i ate there all the time...i hate to see it go, but doesn't everthing out there charge the special tax? it's the sales tax there higher at say CVS vs. the CVS at 23rd and Iowa?

GardenMomma 5 years, 11 months ago

Yes, the tax rate for CVS at 6th and Wakarusa is higher than the CVS at 23rd and Iowa.

middlemgmt 5 years, 11 months ago

The extra tax stinks, but if smash burger had a good product at a reasonable price, they could have made it. Orange Leaf next door is always packed. The truth of the matter is that smash burger was expensive and tasted bad.

Lee Eldridge 5 years, 11 months ago

I agree with you. Ate there twice and was unimpressed both times.

I don't think MOST Lawrencians know or particularly care about the extra tax. Only a small handful of people who post on LJW every day seem to get really upset about the tax. :)

woodscolt 5 years, 11 months ago

smashburger sure was a "flash in the pan burger". good riddens

lunacydetector 5 years, 11 months ago

it's too bad all the hate on here regarding smashburger. that whole design where the back of the store looks like a front is a failed design and planning concept. customers want to see cars out front, and bauer farms doesn't let people see cars out front. the businesses look closed. it is a failed smart growth plan. too bad lawrence.

GardenMomma 5 years, 11 months ago

Besides Silas and Maddy's and Stone Cold Creamery (both of which are downtown) are there any other ice cream/frozen yogurt places in town? I know there's Dairy Queen, but other than those?

Baskin Robbins is gone.

George_Braziller 5 years, 11 months ago

The design of the building didn't kill it. The food and service did.

overthemoon 5 years, 11 months ago

do cars out front make for 'really nice'?

Problem with the zero lot line design is that it is for a pedestrian focused retail concept. 6th and Wak is anything but.

Joe Berns 5 years, 11 months ago

I liked the food at smashburger, but greatly disliked the cost. Seriously, a burger of that quality shouldn't be more than about $3.50, 4.50 with fries and a drink. No reason I shouldn't be able to eat a fast food lunch with my wife for under $10.00 and thats exactly what this was, slightly better than mcdonalds or BK, but still fast food.

Hope everyone used their groupons already...

Steve Jacob 5 years, 11 months ago

Don't underestimate the power of the people, as far as the special tax rate. Specking of overpriced burgers, how's "Five Guys" doing? After the buzz wore off, have heard noting about it. Not the best location either.

CardHawkFan 5 years, 11 months ago

We have been back a few times and if you can stomach the sit down restaurant prices for a fast-food joint, then it is worth it. The burgers, dogs and fries have been consistently tasty and toppings fresh. Try their fries, cajun-style. Rule of thumb, don't order more than a small fry for a family of 3-4. They fill the bag with a ton of fries. It was also ranked as the top burger joint in the country, even over McD's.

Joe Adams 5 years, 11 months ago

Can they include an ice rink with the Rec Center? A year round rink would be attractive to Topeka and Lawrence residents on that side of town (6th and 10/40) and it could help development of another hotel out there for tournaments?

guess_again 5 years, 11 months ago

And a roller coaster, wind tunnel, zip line, ferris wheel, and go-kart track would be good. Oh, and some lions and bears.

Joe Adams 5 years, 11 months ago

If they are paid for, I'm all for it. If they are considering partnering up with the YMCA to support the funding for the rec center, find a partner for the ice rink as well. The KU hockey team currently plays games at the Independence Events Center and brings money to the Independence, MO area. You don't think they might be looking for a closer rink to provide them with an actual home ice advantage? Why are we losing that money to MO when we could keep it right here in our local community?

kernal 5 years, 11 months ago

jp may have something there. It would only be a 30 to 35 minute drive from SW Topeka on I-70 and I bet there are a lot of kids who would love to learn to figure skate, learn to play ice hockey and I bet there are plenty of adults who would love to learn how to just skate. There are ice skating rinks in KC area and I know there were people in Topeka who used to drive there kids to KC for lessons and training for competitions.

bevy 5 years, 11 months ago

Um, ya'll do know that there is ALREADY an ice rink in Topeka, right? It's at the Expocentre.

Joe Adams 5 years, 11 months ago

They only have ice from about September through March (if that) and they completely remove the ice for the month of February. Lawrence is big enough to support an ice rink. I'm not asking them to build it unfunded but I'd hope that it would at least be in the discussion for any new rec center being built. The local interest can be there right away as long as they can get KU to play home games there.

CardHawkFan 5 years, 11 months ago

I am on board with the ice rink. KU would use it for club teams. Instead of talking to the city, somebody needs to be knocking on ol' Doug Compton's door. He should have enough space out there by his house. Seriously, though. I would go!!!

daddax98 5 years, 11 months ago

Woooosh!! What was that sound? oh it was the point completely missing Larry

bornherelongago 5 years, 11 months ago

I'll bet it would have made it if they'd had a drive-thru. I ate there a few times, and I loved their burgers but frankly I don't like to eat fast food inside a fast food joint. I like to get it on the go and take it to the office or home. No drive thru kind of defeats the purpose. I think Larry is right though. 8 cents isn't going to drive anyone away. Burger King and Taco Bell will make it just fine there...because they'll have drive-thrus.

dynamo77 5 years, 11 months ago

Yeah the sales tax argument is crazy. The voters in this town like to increase sales tax every election to no end. We fund buses that noone rides(aren't they privately run anyway?), a new library that the bums will use as a day shelter, etc. Oh and let's not forget the SRS office that we'll have to fund to keep open. Or the incredible waste in two football and two baseball fields. Guess sales tax will go up for both of those. Bottom line with Smashburger is their food was awful and overpriced. The terrible service didn't help either. Really McD's and the coffee shop are the only things worthwhile overthere. I'll throw it in there and say Famous Dave's is overpriced and awful as well.

puddleglum 5 years, 11 months ago

ok rockchalk, you like the 2.8% tax. YOU pay for it. I choose not to.

oliveoyl 5 years, 11 months ago

Last year Smashburger did a coupon day where a percentage of the proceeds went to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Heard that Smashburger never gave them the proceeds. That coupled with TIF...karma indeed!

lawrencechick 5 years, 11 months ago

That's a shame. Our kids always liked a Friday night out at Smashburger and Orange Leaf for dessert. It was a little overpriced, but a much nicer atmosphere than McDonalds and cheaper than going to a full service restaurant. I couldn't disagree more with the service, I always found the employees to be friendly and helpful and the place was immaculately clean. With the addition of Burger King, Bauer farms is turning out to be just another crummy fast food mecca.

wdl 5 years, 11 months ago

My wife and I ate there once. They lacked the three main ingredients for a successful fast food business. Poor location, very average food, and poor service. Add in the special tax assessed on your already substandard experience and it leaves a real bad taste in your mouth. After all we are talking just another hamburger joint in an already saturated market. Do the execs. of these companies even do demographics any more. Lawrence is a very tricky and elusive market. I was in the food busienss in this town during my early adult life and it is tricky. I like many life long residents have seen a ton of them come and go!!

Carol Bowen 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm surprised the YMCA is interested in Lawrence. Parks and Rec is tough competition. I have always felt that a YMCA. And a YWCA would be good for Lawrence. Is there something wrong with paying for facilities we use? They do not charge a lot.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm surprised the YMCA is interested in Lawrence. Parks and Rec is tough competition. I have always felt that a YMCA. And a YWCA would be good for Lawrence. Is there something wrong with paying for facilities we use? They do not charge a lot.

Sunny Parker 5 years, 11 months ago

If it was called 'artburger' no one would have cared about those extra pennies. You people kill me sometimes!

Curtis Lange 5 years, 11 months ago

:( Sad to see Smashburger go. IMO, it was the best 'chain' burger in town. Their Smashfries were amazing as well.

Kris Adair 5 years, 11 months ago

I find it interesting that in an article about several fitness establishments opening or possibly opening the majority of the conversation is about the overpriced fast food. Put down the burger and join a gym. You now have more choices.

Matthew Del Vecchio 5 years, 11 months ago

The TIF as Smash Burgers downfall is a nice thought but seriously them burgers sucked.

hildirid 5 years, 11 months ago

When we moved to Lawrence almost twenty years ago (after having lived in three similar-sized towns in the eastern midwest) we were amazed by two things: that there was not a Y and that taxes were so low. Odd to see the two come together in today's combox.

And, by the way, taxes (and a related category, fees for city services like water) are still lower here than they were in our last home town when we left there two decades ago.

somedude20 5 years, 11 months ago

Is there a special tax for the shops at Clinton Parkway. I ask because they have Svedka Vodka for $19.99 as does On The Rocks but OTR is $21.56 or so with tax but the liquor store next the the UPS store is $22 and change? Seems weird

middlemgmt 5 years, 11 months ago

No sales tax is ever charged on liqour in the state of Kansas. We just have a liqour enforcement tax. The rate is the same at all the stores. On the Rocks was just more expensive. Cork & Barrel usually have the lowest prices in town.

somedude20 5 years, 11 months ago

OTR was cheaper by a dollar when both prices are $19.99 retail.

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