Archive for Thursday, November 15, 2012

Town Talk: Soup and sandwich shop opens near Clinton Parkway Hy-Vee; Meritrust Credit Union signs deal for new eastern Lawrence branch; city to host trash can recycling event Friday

November 15, 2012


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News and notes from around town:

• It probably goes without saying (since I’ve said it here, here and at innumerable dinner parties) that square hamburgers are a sign of communism. (A certain fast-food hamburger chain no longer invites me to its dinner parties. )

But what is a shapeless hamburger a sign of? I don’t know — yet — but we’ll all have a chance to investigate. A new restaurant — the Sandwich Bowl — has opened in West Lawrence, and one of its mainstay menu items is something it calls a Betta Burger. What makes it “betta,” apparently, is the lack of a patty.

Instead, the hamburger is served loose-meat style — like a sloppy joe without the sloppy. Sometimes a fork is involved in eating this hamburger (that’s sounds to me like how Fiddle Castro would eat a hamburger, but I’ll withhold judgment), which has led to the restaurant’s slogan of “forking awesome.”

“The burgers are basically loose meat and chopped on the grill,” said Andy Smith, a manager at the store. “We think it is the sort of thing that kind of sets us apart.”

That is one way to say it. Another is it is the sort of thing that draws the attention of the U.S. intelligence community. I guarantee you an FBI file has been opened on this. (If you don’t believe me, just ask Petraeus. He’s easy to contact via email.)

We reported back in August that the Sandwich Bowl was moving into the space previously occupied by Blue Chip Gourmet in the shopping center next to Hy-Vee at Clinton Parkway and Kasold. The restaurant opened about a week ago.

In addition to the betta burgers, the restaurant serves traditional deli sandwiches and several hot sandwiches. The hot sandwich selection includes its signature sandwich, the Flying Pig — which has thinly sliced, oven roasted pork loin, bacon, pepperoni, yellow onion, Monterey jack cheese and salsa ranch dressing.

The restaurant got its start in the tiny town of Harlan, Iowa. The restaurant still operates out of a historic bank building in the town of about 5,000 people. But the draw of Kansas University had brought the family to Lawrence on several occasions, and now the son and daughter of the restaurant’s owners have moved here to launch the Lawrence restaurant.

The fact the restaurant has its roots in Iowa gives me comfort. Iowans are many things (wanna-be Nebraskans, people who consider a vacation a trip to Kansas City to watch the Big 12 basketball tournament, and masters of seamlessly working in the phrase “flying pig” into conversations and menu items), but they are not communists.

It also is an encouraging sign that the restaurant serves soup. Each day, the restaurant will have at least one homemade soup, although many days they have up to three. The soup menu changes every two weeks, but recently it has included Italian wedding soup, cheesy potato, ham and bean, chicken noodle dumpling and beefy mushroom barley.

But what’s encouraging is that on Election Day, the restaurant served a soup that simply was titled “Ronald Reagan.” I don’t know what is in Ronald Reagan soup (Democrats will say deficit spending and Republicans will say freedom), but regardless of how you felt about our 40th president, I think we all can agree that he really didn’t like communism.

• I’ll bet you one thing Ronald Reagan did like is drive-through banking lanes. Lawrence residents sure do, and that has caused a regional credit union to start making new plans in the city.

Meritrust Credit Union has announced that it is closing its downtown branch at 643 Massachusetts St. on Dec. 14 and will open a new branch in the former Central National Bank building near 23rd and Harper streets on Dec. 17.

The 23rd and Harper location, which is just south of the Kwik Shop and has been vacant for several months, has a drive-through lane. Jamie Taulbee, a spokeswoman for Wichita-based Meritrust, said that was a key consideration. Taulbee said Meritrust has been in the Lawrence market for about five years, and customers have been asking about the possibility of a drive-through lane for about that long.

“We love the Lawrence market,” Taulbee said. “We’re very happy to bring them what they have been asking for.”

Meritrust’s other Lawrence location, 4821 W. Sixth St., also does not have a drive-through lane. But Taulbee confirmed the speculation I’ve heard, which is Meritrust has signed a deal to locate in the new mini-shopping area that currently is under construction behind Famous Dave’s BBQ at Sixth and Congressional. (As we previously have reported, the center also will have a Papa Murphy’s, a martial arts business and a wireless phone store.) That location will have a drive-through lane. Taulbee, though, didn’t have a timeline for that branch to open.

Allison Vance Moore of Lawrence’s Colliers International helped broker both deals.

• Here’s one last reminder for those of you scratching your heads about what to do with your old trash cans. As you should know by now, the city of Lawrence is requiring residents to start using a standardized trash cart. The wheeled-plastic carts have been delivered to houses (I believe the process is either already done or will be completed by today). City crews tomorrow — Friday, Nov. 16 — will conduct the last of their trash cart recycling pick-up programs.

If you have a trash can you no longer have a use for, you can set it at the curb by 6 a.m. tomorrow. Make sure the can is empty, and mark and "X" on the can so that crews know you want it removed.

Plastic cans will be recycled and made into future plastic trash carts. Metal cans will be recycled for use as scrap metal.

City officials, though, are reminding residents that their old trash cans still can be used to set out yard waste materials. Plus, the city says the cans can be good storage containers and used for other purposes. So, get creative with your old trash cans, or set them out by the curb early tomorrow morning.

For awhile there, I had thought residents were going to use their old cans as drums to beat during protests about having to use these new standardized carts. But, thus far, I haven’t received one call from a resident complaining about the new trash cart system. (I’m not asking for any, mind you.) I believe the city has received some complaints, but my understanding is the volume has been pretty low. Now that everybody will have their trash carts, we’ll see what the next few weeks bring.


Hooligan_016 5 years, 6 months ago

Good on Meritrust for making some welcome changes (will certainly make it easier to get cash now before I head out of town!). However, sad that another building will be empty on Mass :/

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

Is Meritrust a true credit union, or, as I've heard, just a bank pretending to be one?

Hooligan_016 5 years, 6 months ago

It used to be Boeing Wichita Credit Union ... I dunno, I made the switch from the evil empire BoA to Meritrust and I couldn't be happier.

tir 5 years, 6 months ago

The Betta Burger sounds an awfully lot like the Maid-Rite sandwich, which has been around since 1926:

Catalano 5 years, 6 months ago

Roseanne had a loose-meat sandwich restaurant! The Connors lived in Illinois. Here's some trivia:

Katara 5 years, 6 months ago

I was thinking of NuWay burgers too. They had a couple of stores in KCMO for a while.

Clovis Sangrail 5 years, 6 months ago

Maid-Rite also started out in Iowa. I do so wish they had one of those here.

Danielle Brunin 5 years, 6 months ago

I wonder if the Betta Burger is made from ground-up betta fish? Mmm... fish sandwich...

Erin Graham 5 years, 6 months ago

We just went to Soup Bowl the other day- it's REALLY good. I had a Betta Burger... it's not like a 'sloppy joe' at all. Nor is it like Runza (Nasty!!!) The Betta Burger is more equivilant to a Philly. But with hamburger meat and toppings. And their actual philly (which my husb. had) is way better than PepperJax. It's solid all around, from the food to the staff. Unique. Great experience. Something there anyone would like.

Joe Adams 5 years, 6 months ago

We got it today for lunch after the article. Loved the sandwich although I wish they did hot sandwiches in the half sandwich / soup combination (only cold sandwiches right now). Both sandwiches were really good and I'm so happy to see a new place open up. We shared a soup just to try the Italian Wedding and it was really good as well.

Sue Mohr 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes, indeed, a Maid-Rite it is! I grew up in Newton, IA where everyone was absolutely enamored with Maid-Rites --- except me!! I never did care for them at all.


ksarmychick 5 years, 6 months ago

Bank of the West on 6th street is also closing in a few weeks. Too bad it was it's only Lawrence location.

Joe Berns 5 years, 6 months ago

yep, sucks. We need to find a new bank. Any ideas on a good bank/credit union with free checking or outstanding customer service?

PhilChiles 5 years, 6 months ago

First state bank is great; I also use Meritrust and love them as well. Can't go wrong either way.

LadyJ 5 years, 6 months ago

Personally, I love Capital Federal. Customer service has always been great. If you have bank accounts with you kids, you can transfer money to their account which is available to them immediately. Most banks, the money is not available until the next business day. Not helpful in an emergency.

1julie1 5 years, 6 months ago

Chad, you might check out how multi-unit housing is handling the lookalike carts.

I've seen tags attached to new trash carts around large homes in the Oread neighborhood which (I guess as I'm not jumping out of the car to check) may ID an apartment number. Townhome driveways (where 6 or more units may set their cans in the same spot by the curb) are another place for tagging. We tied a cord around our handle to tell it apart from the others, but we don't know what's permitted. Is it like tagging luggage so you can find it on the carousel at the airport? Can you tie a ribbon? A cord? A tag of a certain size?

It seems like an unnecessary thing to do until you realize that you are liable for the damage to or destruction of your own cart. So there's a vested interested in getting back the one you are responsible for, particularly if you are more careful than the neighbors in keeping yours in good condition.

Also, just an observation. In the two blocks of single-family homes next to my home this morning I saw 3 homes that also had bagged trash set out next to their cart and one home that could not fit their trash into their cart so the lid was left open and a large bag was sitting on top. So it seems that there may need to be a lot of adjusting of cart sizes or else the test for billing for excess bags may be coming sooner rather than later.

Steve Jacob 5 years, 6 months ago

Stumbled across Sandwich Bowl while daughter was at Plato's Closet over the weekend, and the sandwich was great! Meat was very "sweet" to me. Best sandwich I have had in awhile.

Linda Aikins 5 years, 6 months ago

My neighbor used white stick-on letters and put his address on it. It looks like the city had done it with their lettering.

We asked for a smaller cart two weeks ago. How long before they are replaced?

May Soo 5 years, 6 months ago

What do you do when someone keep stealing your trash can?

Terry Sexton 5 years, 6 months ago

Hide inside & go all ninja on they a$$ with a squirt gun filled with bacon grease.

Terry Rossiter 5 years, 6 months ago


When in the heck does the shape of a burger reflect upon your political beliefs? It's hard for me to believe that Wendy and Uncle Dave are communist subversives trying to bring about the downfall of the red, white, and blue!? White Castle might be another story altogether since they are steamed and not grilled American style!

I look forward to trying the Sandwich Bowl and reserve judgement until I do. From growing up in the Philly area my experience has shown me that anything called a "Philly" usually is not and that anything called a "cheesesteak" usually is close! Pepperjacks is close and for Lawrence it's pretty good but not a cheesesteak as I grew up with.

What is going into the building that is under construction on the northwest side of Wal-Mart on Iowa Street? I think you said Chipotle but have not seen any late news on this!?

Keep up the good work you do on keeping us nuts informed!

SpeedRacer 5 years, 6 months ago

I have had my new trash can for two weeks. The first week the workers loaded each can on the back of the truck to dump it, which seemed like a long, tedious process. This week, they zipped through the neighborhood manually pulling the trash bags out of the can and throwing them on the truck just like they used to do.

Tomato 5 years, 6 months ago

I saw on Pendleton's facebook page that they are interested in old trash cans if you want to drop them off there (I think they want cans with lids).

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