Archive for Friday, November 9, 2012

Town Talk: Milton’s restaurant set to close later this month; Convention and Visitors Bureau hires new director; opportunities for chocolate today and Sunday

November 9, 2012


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Well, the spirits of some this morning may be flatter than a pancake. I’ve received official word that Milton’s, one of Lawrence’s favorite flapjack and breakfast spots, is set to close for good later this month.

Owner David Lewis confirmed to me this morning that the last day of business for the restaurant/coffee house at 920 Massachusetts St. likely will be Sunday, Nov. 18.

“It is a really odd deal,” Lewis said. “We know a lot of people are going to be really disappointed. It is pretty emotional for us.”

Lewis said he plans to release more details about the pending closure in the next few days.

As we previously have reported, however, Lewis is remaining in the restaurant business. Lewis has signed on to be a partner in a new restaurant in the 901 Building, the multistory apartment building at the southwest corner of Ninth and New Hampshire. Lawrence marketing executive Billy Pilgrim and Lawrence chef Sula Teller also are partners in that project. Lewis said that restaurant — its name hasn’t been publicly released yet — is scheduled to open the week after Thanksgiving.

Lewis told me this morning that his original intention was to operate both Milton’s and the new restaurant in the 901 Building. But something, somehow has caused that to change.

Lewis said people who believe Milton’s simply will be picking up its menu and traditions and moving them to the 901 Building aren’t correct. As we reported back in September, the new restaurant is slated to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The business also is slated to be open until 11 p.m. at night and serve wine, craft beers and other spirits. Lewis reminded me that sort of was the formula for Milton’s when it first opened years ago.

“The new place will be a dream come true for me,” Lewis said. “I really can’t describe how excited I am about it.”

Lewis said he had discussions with several people about carrying on the Milton’s name and menu, but none of those deals came to fruition for various reasons.

I’ll go back to what Lewis first said when I approached him this morning. This is a really odd deal. Lewis confirmed the closure has nothing to do with a drop in business. That appears evident. I can guarantee you there was not a busier restaurant in downtown this morning. I think most patrons of Lawrence’s restaurant scene would agree that Milton’s is probably the busiest breakfast restaurant in the city.

Lewis leases the building, and he said he wasn’t certain whether the landlord has another business lined up to go into the spot. According to ownership records at the Douglas County Courthouse, the building is owned by Terra Firma LTD. According to business records from the Kansas Secretary of State’s office, the company is led by Michael Nelson, a businessman from Alma.

I expect the closing of Milton’s will create some ripple effects in the downtown restaurant scene. I already have seen a sign advertising that Cielito Lindo, the Mexican restaurant at 815 New Hampshire St., will start serving breakfast. (I’ll have to double check the sign to remember whether it is every day or just on weekends. I’ll report back.) I’m also checking on a tip that another established restaurant in downtown will be adding a breakfast menu. I’ll let you know what I find out on that as well.

• Maybe chocolate will improve your mood. You’ll have a chance to find out this weekend.

The Lawrence Community Shelter’s annual Chocolate and Tea at Three fundraiser is set for 3 p.m. Sunday at Maceli’s, 1031 New Hampshire St.

The event features gourmet tea and coffee along with an exotic assortment of chocolate desserts from local restaurants and local bakers.

I’m fearful the event also may feature a bloodied reporter. I will be one of a handful of local judges sampling entries in the chocolate contest. I’m not sure exactly how my wife will react as she watches me take large, slow bites of exotic chocolate creations. (Perhaps just inches from her face.) All I know is that I still have scars from the time I accidentally opened her box of See’s chocolates. (I understand some people go to the Nebraska Furniture Mart to max out their credit cards on actual furniture. Heaven help me if my wife ever notices there is more to the building than the See’s candy shop near the entrance.)

Anyway, tickets for the event are $25 and are available for purchase at the door. Proceeds from the event will help fund programs and services for the homeless shelter.

• If you want to warm up in the chocolate category, I’ve been told Mass Street Sweet Shop, in the former home of Cupcake Construction Company at 727 Massachusetts St., is opening today.

As we previously reported, Mass Street Sweet Shop is being opened up by members of the Jimenez family in Lawrence, and the shop will be trying to bring back some of the same type of sweet offerings that the former Penny Annie's location offered before it closed.

The shop also will be keeping the cupcake offerings from Cupcake Construction Company. I’ll try to make my way over there today and post a better description later. But first I have to get these home equity loans with my banker signed. If I don’t do that before my wife gets to the shop, I’ll be financially ruined.

• This news just in from the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The organization has hired longtime Lawrence marketing executive Christina Phelps to serve as its new executive director. Phelps is the former director of sales and marketing for Knology’s Kansas corporate division, and for years before that worked for Lawrence-based Sunflower Broadband.

Phelps also has worked in sales and marketing for the Lodgian Hotel Group, including Lawrence’s Holiday Inn and Convention Center.

Phelps role with the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau will be to grow the number of conventions and visitor dollars that come into the city. In 2011, the group estimates about $60 million in the city.

Phelps replaces Susan Henderson, who left the organization for other opportunities earlier this year. Phelps begins her new duties immediately.


dougfirst 5 years, 6 months ago

I really hope the Sweet Shoppe on Mass does very well. I know the owners have put in a lot of work getting the place ready to go. Best of luck to the Jimenez family on their endeavor.

Hooligan_016 5 years, 6 months ago

Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.

parrothead8 5 years, 6 months ago

That stinks about Milton's. There aren't many good breakfast places in this town.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 6 months ago

To survive in this town, you need to have breakfast pizzas and tacos.

Sherry Warren 5 years, 6 months ago

There needs to be some better breakfast joints... places where it is quiet enough to visit with your friends and with servers that don't look down their noses at you if you come in a little hung.

George_Braziller 5 years, 6 months ago

I never considered Milton's a good place for breakfast. The service is horrible and the food mediocre. I'll just keep going to Wheatfield's.

Jayhawker07 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes, Shush that. Wheatfields rocks!! Hope I won't have to stand in line now.

parrothead8 5 years, 6 months ago

I thought the food was great, and the servers always treated me really well. Maybe they just didn't like you.

Robert Sailler 5 years, 6 months ago

715 has excellent breakfast fare. I suggest the hash, and that's the truth.

kernal 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm betting the new restaurant David Lewis and Sula Teller are opening @ 901 NH will be even better than Milton's for breakfast. Looking forward to checking it out!

Megan Tugman 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm curious if Milton's closure will have any effect on their coffee shop in the Kansas Union

Alex_Beecher 5 years, 6 months ago

The shop in the Union is staying open. (Source: Me, the manager of said shop)

Sue Grosdidier 5 years, 6 months ago

Will there still be an outlet for the David's Blend coffee? This is the only coffee I buy and purchase for gifts.

Joe Adams 5 years, 6 months ago

So that leaves an opening for a great breakfast place that will serve pancakes with omelets and skillets (ala Chicago breakfast places open on every street corner). To be fair, that opening was there even with Milton's but being a Chicago transplant, I would really like to see a few more breakfast places in Lawrence. Milton's was a great restaurant but there was quite a few ways they could have made it even better.

Ralph Gage 5 years, 6 months ago

Congratulations to super-enthusiastic former colleague Christina Phelps. CVB is lucky to have her.

cpphelps 5 years, 6 months ago

I had amazing role models who have taught me hard work and dedication. . . . I just always ensured that we included the laughter and fun!!! Thank you for your support it means a great deal to me!

HutchSaltHawk 5 years, 6 months ago

I don't care for Milton's. The Eldridge has a much better breakfast, and did not have to deal with the "attitude" from the host.

blindrabbit 5 years, 6 months ago

Strange story outcome. Anyway, give The Mirth a try, we like it better than Miltons anyway. Funny how the most successful breakfast places kinda drift away, The Paradise Cafe, now Miltons. Lawrence still needs a couple of "old fashioned cafes", have to drift out of town to get my fixes.

HutchSaltHawk 5 years, 6 months ago

Paradise had much better food than Miltons.

Sue Grosdidier 5 years, 6 months ago

I have missed Paradise since it closed! It was truly the best!

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 6 months ago

Close A successful and thriving business ON Mass. St. to open a NEW restaurant in a NEW apartment building on New Hampshire St. WITH multiple partners? Sounds VERY risky to me especially when you have what seems to be a sure bet with Milton's. The majority of New Businesses,in THIS economy, Do Not Make it through the first year. Hope it works out for all involved.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

Makes you wonder if there isn't something else going on. Like maybe a lease that was expiring and would only be extended with a big rent hike. Just a guess.

Linda Aikins 5 years, 6 months ago

Will the new place serve a great breakfast also, just a different menu? If so, can they PLEASE have more seating?

GUMnNUTS 5 years, 6 months ago

Good riddance to Milton's. That restaurant stopped serving good food several years ago when they gave up their liquor license. If you are a breakfast place and you can't cook an egg correctly than you don't deserve to be open. Why the sheep still flocked there is a mystery.

bevy 5 years, 6 months ago

Had breakfast at Milton's exactly ONCE - with my kids. Food was mediocre and overpriced, servers looked at my very-well-behaved children as though they were vermin, and the service was poor. Never went back, so I won't miss it!

blindrabbit 5 years, 6 months ago

Is the new India cusine resturant going into the Milton's space???

walterbradley 5 years, 6 months ago

Good luck Dave, Sula, Billy and Matt, Very risky and odd that you would leave such a great space for a much smaller venture but good luck just the same. I just don't see much profit or room for growth in such a small spot maybe you know something I don't. It doesn't look like you can squeeze more than a couple dozen people in that spot that's one reason I never looked into it for my business. With that said anyone know who to contact to talk about leasing Milton's space, I have wanted it for years, would be nice to at least have a chance at negotiating a deal for the space I would bring some amazing old school breakfast items to mass street while adding some unique items like my famous breakfast lasagna. Good luck look forward to seeing what you guys have planned..

Nikki May 5 years, 6 months ago

Congrats to Christina Phelps! I know she will do great, that's her forte!

And, I can't wait to try the sweet shop! Probably will have to go down there tomorrow after my son's basketball game! For the record, I want to call it shoppe instead of shop.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

The Mirth

The Eldridge

Global Cafe


Sue Grosdidier 5 years, 6 months ago

Do not forget Marisco's out west on the weekends! Great venue for breakfast.

PhilChiles 5 years, 6 months ago

I think 715 and Genovese do breakfast as well. And I heard Ingredient was going to start doing breakfast again; no one seemed to go there but I really liked their breakfast food. There's also Amy's. Does La Parilla have breakfast as well or did i make that up? Either way, plenty of choices!

true_patriot 5 years, 6 months ago

Paradise was the best, Milton's was solid but not as good, and Mirth is for a certain niche but great. Hate to see it spoiled by a bunch of Milton's transplants (only half-joking).

Robert Sailler 5 years, 6 months ago

"Nobody goes to Milton's's too crowded." - Yogi Berra

tomatogrower 5 years, 6 months ago

If you're looking for biscuits and gravy, Aimees is the best. Now if they just served pancakes.

Smarmy_Schoolmarm 5 years, 6 months ago

El Potro (in the old Back Yard Burger building on 31st) does breakfast on weekends. Heaps of consistently good food for a good price, great wait staff and owners. It's not downtown but it's GOOD.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

I haven't tried them for breakfast but they are now my favorite Mexican restaurant in town. And I second your comment about staff and owner.

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