News and notes from around town:
• The mystery is over about what restaurant is moving into the large space formerly occupied by Jo Shmo’s at 724 Mass. Lawrence real estate broker Allison Vance Moore of Colliers International confirmed to me that she’s brokered a deal for Tapas, a new Mexican/Spanish food restaurant to land in the location. I’m still working to get in touch with the management of the new spot, but from what I’ve gathered, the restaurant will have an emphasis on music in addition to the food. As far as the food goes, Tapas are considered to be Spanish appetizers, often sophisticated and intricately prepared. (Bam! Take that Emeril.) But from what I’ve heard thus far, I believe Tapas’ menu will go beyond tapas. It sounds like it will have a full lunch and dinner menu that you would expect from a Mexican restaurant. The restaurant also will serve … whoops, one moment please. (Hey, dear can you go check the flux capacitor down in the basement to make sure it is still fluxing?) Sorry, about that. Now that I’ve protected my pocketbook, let me continue. The restaurant will serve margaritas, and it plans to have a daily happy hour as well. Can you say andale! andale!? (Yeah, after two margaritas, I can’t either.) It sounds like the restaurant will open by mid-January. Tapas certainly will continue a trend of Mexican restaurants coming to Mass. Street. This will be at least the third one in less than a year’s time, with the other two being Fuzzy’s Tacos and the new venture by the Tortas Jalisco’s owners at 712 Mass. in the former Teapouro location.
• Well, the national publicity for Lawrence just keeps on coming. I’m told that Lawrence and The Oread hotel will be featured on this Sunday’s edition of "My Fair Wedding" on WE tv. For those of you with a Y chromosome, that’s a very popular show for those folks who don’t have a Y chromosome. The gist is that a famous wedding planner comes in and remakes a wedding in just a few days and turns it into something magical. (I swung a deal for a free buffet from the now-defunct Ramada Inn for my wedding. If that doesn’t say abracadabra, I don’t know what does.) It looks like this episode involves area resident Rocky Nichols and his bride, Wendy. According to the Web site: “This couple put their wedding plans on hold when Wendy’s teenage son, Ryan, received a life-threatening diagnosis of cancer. Thankfully, Ryan’s cancer is now in remission, and this generous young man wants to pay his good fortune forward.” The show will air at 8 p.m. locally on Sunday on WE.
• As previously reported, the Title Boxing Club is coming to West Lawrence. Well, I finally got a hold of the owner, and he tells me the business is opening today. What I’ve discovered is if you are looking to go all Rocky, this isn’t exactly that type of gym. There is no sparring in the facility. Instead, it strictly is a place that uses the concept of boxing to teach people how to lose weight. The gym is equipped with 50 heavy punching bags, and instructors will conduct group classes that use the “Power Hour” program.
“It is constant movement,” said local franchisee Jim Thomas. “It utilizes everything from the foot on up. I know guys who are complete studs, and I’ve never seen one person who is not sweating and saying ‘wow’ at the end of it. They definitely can feel it.”
The business, located at 1520 Wakarusa in the former Gragg’s Paint location, will be open from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. The gym is expected to employ two full-time employees and five trainers.
• This just in from City Hall: Longtime City Attorney Gerald Cooley will retire at the end of the year. Cooley has been the city attorney since 1988 but he's started as an assistant city attorney under his late-law partner Milton Allen in the late 1960s. Cooley was the city prosecutor during much of the late 1960s when there was plenty of civil unrest to prosecute. He also was the city's chief legal mind on various lawsuits over whether the city's comprehensive plan allowed the city to say no to a suburban mall, and also a landmark case involving whether the city could block the efforts of a for-profit hospital to come to the city. (Columbia HCA. Absolutely the longest City Commission meeting I ever sat through. It was held in the Holidome ballroom and went well into the early morning hours.) Cooley, who even as the city attorney has a private law practice, will continue to serve the city occasionally on a contract basis. The title of city attorney now will go to Toni Wheeler, who already serves as the city's director of Legal Services.