Archive for Thursday, February 23, 2012

Town Talk: Pair of single moms open East Lawrence sports bar; alteration shop zips into South Lawrence; second-floor apartment project slated for downtown

February 23, 2012


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News and notes from around town:

• It sounds like it could be the plot for a sitcom, or maybe even one of those heart-string dramas: Two single moms who have been longtime friends team up to buy a bar with a bad reputation and clean it up.

Actually, though, it is just another story at 19th and Haskell in East Lawrence. A pair of single mothers — April Oakes and Michelle Seidner — have bought the rough and tumble bar that formerly was known as the Crosstown Tavern at 1910 Haskell.

The duo has renamed the establishment Playerz, and is rebranding it as a sports bar.

“We know the image hasn’t been the greatest over there,” said Oakes, who has a day job at a local attorney’s office.

Oakes said she and Seidner — who is a local teacher — started by giving the establishment a complete cleaning, and they’ve also added eight, flat-screen, high definition televisions to make the establishment sports-friendly. They even went so far as to give the women’s restroom a K-State theme (Seidner is a K-State fan), and the men’s bathroom a KU theme (Oakes is a diehard Jayhawk.)

Oakes said the bar wants to keep the blue-collar East Lawrence crowd that comes in after work, but it is trying to move away from the “nightclub type of crowd” that had spawned some violence in the past. Oakes said a sport bar theme seemed to be a natural because there are very few sports bars east of Massachusetts Street.

“I think if people just stick their head in the door, they’ll be amazed at how different the place looks,” Oakes said.

So far, the establishment does not serve food because it lacks a kitchen. But Oakes said the bar is exploring a partnership with a diner that is in the same shopping center that would allow for some basic food to be served.

The new direction is the latest twist for the establishment. After years as the Crosstown Tavern, the bar changed names and owners in October, when it became known as El Perro. For awhile even, the business was open each morning as an espresso shop, presumably to try to attract the large crowd that gathers in the shopping center’s parking lot to catch the Johnson County commuter bus.

Playerz, which has been open for about a month, has hours of 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week.

• Speaking of alterations, there’s a new South Lawrence business that specializes in them. Ashley’s Alterations — a shop that hems and repairs all types of clothing — has opened at 3010 Four Wheel Drive.

Susan Ashley had operated a business by the same name in Eudora for years, and then retired. But now she is back after finding a flaw with that retirement thing.

“The problem with early retirement is you have lots of time and no money,” Ashley said.

Ashley said she decided to open the new business in Lawrence “because rent in Lawrence is much more reasonable than it was seven or 10 years ago.”

You get extra credit points if you remember Ashley’s other business that she operated in Lawrence in the 1970s. If you said Susie Creamcheese, give yourself a gold star that says Lawrence Old Timer on it. The boutique shop was near 10th and Mass., right next door to a place called the Voodoo Hut.

But there’s no creamcheese (or voodoo, as far as I know) at the alteration shop. It is in the business of replacing zippers, hemming pants, changing sizes and other such work for men’s, women’s and children’s clothing.

Maybe I’ll have to give it a try. My wife is actually an excellent seamstress, but for some reason I still break out in a cold sweat every time I see her walking around the house with scissors in her hand.

• Just a quick heads up that you may start seeing some construction at 815 Mass., the location that used to house a formal wear shop next to Mark’s Jewelers.

Lawrence architect Paul Werner has filed plans at City Hall to gut the ground floor and prepare it for a new tenant. But Werner tells me that the building’s owner doesn’t yet have a tenant lined up, but is interested in either retail or restaurant uses. In the meantime, Werner’s project will create a “white shell” space so a tenant can move in quickly once one is found.

But the real substantive work will be happening upstairs. Plans call for about $160,000 worth of construction to add a two-bedroom apartment and a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor of the building. My understanding is that downtown owners are continuing to see strong interest in that second-floor type of living space.


IgnorantYokel 6 years, 1 month ago

Stating the obvious, but "Playerz" sounds exactly like the name of a bar trying to appeal to a “nightclub type of crowd.”

Best of luck to Ms. Oakes and Ms. Seidner regardless.

Bursting 6 years, 1 month ago

Completely agreed, name does nothing to help me feel safe from getting stabbed in there.

gccs14r 6 years, 1 month ago

It's still a better name than Crossfire/Cease Fire.

CreatureComforts 6 years, 1 month ago

Except that wasn't its real name...Playerz actually IS this places real name.

MR_L 6 years, 1 month ago

Playerz Sports Bar is a name that is used in different states as well. Thee only difference is the put a "Z" at thee end. Secondly how many women do you know that own a bar much less a sports bar??? It's a play on words because players play sports. That is why they chose thee name. That is why it now looks modern. That is why the theme of thee entire place is sports.

jehovah_bob 6 years, 1 month ago

No no no, you're thinking of "Play-ahz". Completely different thang.

MarcoPogo 6 years, 1 month ago

That strip mall is Lawrence's equivalent of the old, abandoned amusement parks on "Scooby Doo".

George_Braziller 6 years, 1 month ago

It has been for decades. I used to work in one of the spaces there when it was offices and we had to move out because it was so horrible. The roof always leaked and there was a horrible roach problem that exterminators couldn't get under control.

JackMcKee 6 years, 1 month ago

shoulda made it a pizza place or Mexican restaurant.

irvan moore 6 years, 1 month ago

remember blues, brews and barbques, that was the beginning

ivalueamerica 6 years, 1 month ago

the only way you can know that for sure is if you are planning on taking them.

chosen1 6 years ago

Place has been open for over a month and nothing has been stolen. There hasn't been any trouble at all. Completely different place than Crosstown. Girls you're doing a great job keep it up!!!!!

sherbert 6 years, 1 month ago

I agree with the comments above, my first thought was the name doesn't depict the atmosphere they're wanting.

WhereisBBHOF 6 years, 1 month ago

Ah yes, the new owners did claim that they would "change" the ambience of the place however, there are signifcant leaks in the roof that cause the women's room to become a health & safety concern when it rains, or when/if there may be snow melting again, which all the HD TV's in the world will not rectify. And these are two single Mom's running a bar that closes at 2AM. How does that work for their kids? "Responsible adults" are constantly harping on their kids to be careful about what they post on their Facebook accounts, it'd be interesting to see what the Playerz owners are posting about their establishment, that their kids may be exposed to at some point. In fact, just saw one of the owners having dinner with their kid at Set 'em Up Jacks this week. If I was co-owner of a "sports bar" establishment, I surely would take my kids there, not to my competitor in the neighborhood.

MR_L 6 years, 1 month ago

Plenty of single people own businesses of all kinds in America don't they?? Businesses like that have a "staff" don't they?? Thee point of any business is to make money and perhaps create a better "financial" life for yourself and family. Right?? Just because they own it doesn't mean they will be there all day everyday. Who cares where you saw one of them eating?? What does that have to do with anything significant?? Listen to yourself actually thinking because a person owns an establishment they can't eat and drink at another establishment. Wow....and next time proof read your comment before you hit send.

JackMcKee 6 years, 1 month ago

I can't imagine the number of parking tickets you would receive living downtown.

Blue_Falcon 6 years, 1 month ago

Will Playerz let people in if they are wearing an all-fur zebra-striped jacket? That’s when the shenanigans happen.

Terry Sexton 6 years, 1 month ago

I always suspected that were zebraphobes!

chosen1 6 years ago

How you figure??????? Don't understand all the negativity over the name? Players play sports so what it's spelled with a "Z" instead of an "S". Two very independent and strong women open up a bar and all I hear is negative BS. I happen to both women and they are great parent with very good kids.

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