Archive for Thursday, April 5, 2012

Town Talk: Two hot dog stands to open in Downtown Lawrence; Chamber narrowing field in search for new president and CEO

April 5, 2012


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News and notes from around town:

• It is as sure a sign of summer as suntan lotion, baseball and 90-degree temperatures in my living room because my wife won’t turn the air conditioner on. I’m talking, of course, about the corner hot dog cart in Downtown Lawrence.

Well, I don’t know what this says about the upcoming summer, but there will be at least two hot dog carts operating in downtown. (I hope it doesn’t mean it will be doubly hot. I’ll have to set up Gatorade stations in my house.)

City commissioners have received and approved two applications from street vendors who want to sell hot dogs from a sidewalk stand. Jack’s Franks will be selling out of a familiar location — the northeast corner of Ninth and Massachusetts streets — while Hot Rod Hot Dogs will be selling from the middle of the 800 block on the west side of Massachusetts Street.

Jack’s Franks will be run by Lawrence resident and former food-service professional Jack Franks. (Boy we dodged a bullet there. Can you imagine what type of stand we would have had if his last name was Liver or Mushypeas?) Franks bought the food cart that formerly was operated by Craig Nowatzke who served hot dogs at the corner for a good many years. In case you missed it, Nowatzke opened Gaslight Gardens at 317 N. Second, a European-style beer garden.

Franks was up and operating last weekend, and plans to be on the corner this weekend, weather permitting. As summer really gets into gear, Franks — whose full-time job is in the local insurance industry — said he likely will hire a couple of young adults to run the stand during some weekday hours.

“I’ve always wanted to do this,” said Franks, who got his start in Lawrence by cooking for sororities and fraternities. “I think every community should have a hot dog cart, and I think it is going to be a great way to meet people.”

Ronald Lassiter will be the guy behind Hot Rod’s Hot Dogs. Lassiter also hopes to meet many people with his cart. Lassiter is the pastor for young adults at Topeka’s Faith Temple Church. He ran a hot dog cart in Downtown Topeka last season, but someone mentioned he likely would get more foot traffic in downtown Lawrence.

“I just want to try to be something good to the community, and just be a light and smiling face for people to see,” Lassiter said.

Lassiter — who will sell the Hebrew brand of quarter pound hot dogs along with the traditional ball park frank and bratwursts — plans to be open on Fridays and Saturdays during the day and early evening hours.

• Lawrence Chamber of Commerce leaders are narrowing the field in their search to find a new leader to replace Tom Kern, who left the Lawrence job for a similar position in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

I chatted a bit with John Ross, chair of the chamber board of directors, and plan to talk with Cindy Yulich, chair of the search committee. Ross said chamber officials will be interviewing candidates next week.

“It would be nice to have somebody in place by the end of the second quarter,” Ross said.

What I’ve heard from other sources is that eight candidates have made at least the first round of cuts. Of those eight, I’ve been told, three are current Lawrence residents who either have some mix of experience with chambers or in government affairs.

It will be interesting to see what type of person the chamber gets to fill the position. I’ve heard from multiple sources that this search may be a bit different from other searches in that a greater emphasis may be placed on an individual’s direct experience with economic development.

The chamber also has its director of economic development position to fill, which became vacant after Beth Johnson took a similar job in Overland Park. But what I’ve heard is that there is a desire among some for the chamber CEO to be more hands-on with economic development prospects.

That may be particularly true if elected leaders decide to create a change in the community’s economic development structure. As we reported over the weekend, new mayor Bob Schumm said he expects significant discussion in the next few months about creating a new economic development “consortium” made up of representatives from the city, the county, the chamber and Kansas University. Indications are that the chamber CEO would be expected to be a key leader for that group.

• Speaking of leaders, I’ll cut Town Talk a bit short today because I have to go speak to the leaders of tomorrow today. (Now, I’m getting confused.) Anyway, I’m on a panel that is speaking to graduate students in the public administration program at KU who want to learn how to deal with the media. It is a two-hour panel. I don’t get it. It won’t take that long to say: “Tell us everything we want to know.” That’s how you should always deal with a reporter.


g_rock 5 years, 11 months ago

Hot dog carts are cool I'm sure....but I would love to see a food truck/taco truck!

somedude20 5 years, 11 months ago

can that chopper drop turkeys from it? "As god as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly"

jhawkinsf 5 years, 11 months ago

And a beer truck, a gin and tonic truck, a margarita truck. etc.?

Sean Livingstone 5 years, 11 months ago

Food truck should pay rents too.... BTW, if you plan to buy food from food trucks, you normally won't eat at any of the restaurants...

MarcoPogo 5 years, 11 months ago

Third Planet - my favorite restaurant.

And if a hot dog cart runs Esquina out of business...well, I guess that speaks for itself, huh?

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 11 months ago

it's free market capitalism. If a sweaty guy on the side of the road with a cart can steal your business, that speaks volumes to the quality of the product your business offers. If Buffalo Bob's thinks they can do better profit from a food cart than from their restaurant, let them try.

Gareth Skarka 5 years, 11 months ago

The empty lot next to the Eldridge would be a perfect location for food trucks. KC's got a dedicated space now, Austin is famous for them... come on, Lawrence.....

koman 5 years, 11 months ago

Good luck, Jack - you'll do awesome!

jjt 5 years, 11 months ago

We can reduce the chamber search, to one day. Each candidate is given a hot dog cart and told go forth and lets see how good you are.

BillBrasky1 5 years, 11 months ago

Jack Franks has the best dogs around. And he's a good guy, glad to see he is open.

somedude20 5 years, 11 months ago

what, no weiner jokes?

Why did the cowboy adopt a weiner dog? He wanted to get a long little doggy!


Phil Minkin 5 years, 11 months ago

What did the Dali Lama say to the hot dog vendor? Make me one with everything.

somebodynew 5 years, 11 months ago

I don't know about Franks, but I have eaten at Lassiter's in Topeka. Not once, but several times. Good stuff and glad to see him try Lawrence. Not quite sure they should be so close together, but then I am not a marketing genius either.

d_prowess 5 years, 11 months ago

How was it determined where these stands would be set up and then was there any discussion with the shop owners of where these stands will be operating in front of?
It might not be a big deal, but in case any business typically has their doors open on a nice day, I am not sure how they would like the smell of hot dogs filling their shop. Just curious.

Chad Lawhorn 5 years, 11 months ago

It is a licensing process. I believe — not 100 percent here — that businesses within a certain number of feet of the proposed cart location must be notified of the license application. Those businesses then have the opportunity to provide comments to city commissioners, who ultimately are responsible for approving or denying the license.

Janet FitzGerald 5 years, 11 months ago

Some of us prefer not to eat the flesh of dead animals. And yet, we have money to spend, and we like to eat out. I sure wish more businesses would open that cater to those who respect the lives of sentient beings and provide local, organic vegetarian and vegan foods.

JackMcKee 5 years, 11 months ago

which has exactly what to do with this story?

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 11 months ago

didn't there used to be an all veg restaurant downtown called "herbivores"? I'm guessing based upon the fact that it's gone that such an idea doesn't do well.

Gareth Skarka 5 years, 11 months ago

It was tried. The 10th Street Vegetarian Bistro went out of business, twice in fact, for one simple reason:

Hippies don't have any money.

OK, I'm joking -- but to be more serious: Not enough vegetarians in this town to keep a dedicated restaurant afloat. Because most are friends with non-vegetarians, and hence go to non-specifically veg restaurants and order the veg options.

But the hippy thing is kinda true, too.

flyin_squirrel 5 years, 11 months ago


Any idea what "" is, that is going into the building on North 2nd in North Lawrence? I think the building used to be a import auto dealer. And also what is going on with Frank's North Start Tavern (the old Latino Si at 508 Locust St)?

FlintlockRifle 5 years, 11 months ago

Jack, good luck on your new adventure on ""DAWGS"" just don't forget to have good mustard and onions, see you at the stand

matahari 5 years, 11 months ago

Let your hot dog stand, but don't let your meat loaf

Eugehne Normandin 5 years, 11 months ago

If you like Dicks go to topeka. If you like hot dogs go downtown.P.S. i think you can find vegan food downtown. P.S. again I think the hot dog vendors will pay taxes and by a license. The car dealer bit was off the wall and there is always plenty of whine available around here.

i am

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