Archive for Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lawrence residents say goodbye to popular downtown breakfast spot

November 18, 2012


Patrons read newspapers and drink coffee in the outside dining area at Milton's as they wait to be seated Sunday, Milton's final day of business.

Patrons read newspapers and drink coffee in the outside dining area at Milton's as they wait to be seated Sunday, Milton's final day of business.

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Breakfast lovers found a bittersweet flavor in the coffee and pancake syrup at Milton’s on Sunday morning.

The popular breakfast landmark was packed with regular customers, as usual, and it was just as noisy as ever with chatter and clinking glasses. Dozens huddled around the front door, looking forward to bacon and eggs, familiar faces and were generally not complaining about the 30-minute wait. Staff posted a sign up front reading: “In light of our closing ... please be courteous of others waiting to enjoy Milton’s.”

Most were well aware it was the final day of business for Milton’s at 920 Massachusetts St. It became a topic of conversation at many tables, where regulars had been sitting down together for up to 15 years.

Fischer Almanza, a senior at Bishop Seabury Academy, said he had been coming in for french toast after church, along with his little sister and his parents, since he was a child. Like many, Almanza already missed Milton’s and didn’t know what he would do for breakfast in the future.

“I have no clue,” he said. “There are other breakfast places but not like this. It’s insanely depressing.”

Owner David Lewis said it was emotional for him, too.

“A lot of friends, a lot of customers, have been with us since we opened,” he said. “People have been bringing their kids here since they were born.”

Rosalee Roth, of Lawrence, brought her grandson, Ry, and his wife, Katherine, to Milton’s knowing it was the last day. This was one place she used to think of while living away from Lawrence for years, wishing she could go in and sit by the window with a cup of coffee.

“I’m sad,” she said. “I was surprised when I read in the paper that it was closing.”

Lewis said he isn’t ready yet to talk about exactly why Milton’s is closing, but he’s said before it’s not because of any drop in business. As previously reported, he is staying busy as a partner in Loopy’s, a new restaurant opening the week after Thanksgiving at the 901 Building, the multistory apartment building at the southwest corner of Ninth and New Hampshire. Lewis said he was excited about the new venture, which would be different but would in many ways fulfill the original vision of Milton’s, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and serving wine, craft beers, and other spirits until 11 p.m.

Lewis also said he plans to bring all Milton’s employees with him to Loopy’s, which might be reassuring to longtime customers like Karen Abraham and Gayan Stanley, of Lawrence.

Abraham and Stanley said they’ve been eating at Milton’s for 12 years and not just because they like the pancakes. They’ve also enjoyed getting to know the wait staff, often college students who would talk about their various studies or travels. Over the years, they watched some become grown-ups with kids of their own, and Abraham, a music teacher, has given lessons to some of those children, including Lewis’.

“You get to know their names; they know your name,” Stanley said. “It’s a nice sense of community.”

Even out-of-towners knew Milton’s. One group from Chicago came Sunday because their hotel recommended it and had no idea it was the last day. Another group, including Betsy Bernard and Rachel Dobbs, of New Jersey, said for years they’ve stopped in for breakfast every time they come to Lawrence to visit family. They always recommended Milton’s to other travelers and had just texted news of the closing to a restaurant-owner friend in Puerto Rico, who they said was “very upset.”

“We’re crushed,” Bernard said. “This is where we want to be.”


GUMnNUTS 5 years, 7 months ago

If you are impressed with Miltons give Perkins a try, you will be amazed!

youngjayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

The breakfasts at First Watch are fabulous!

parrothead8 5 years, 7 months ago

The food at First Watch is good, but the coffee is inexcusable. I stopped going there just because of the coffee.

George_Braziller 5 years, 7 months ago

The're OK but I hate the weird potato things they have so I just tell them to not bother putting them on the plate. They obviously came out of a bag from the freezer.

local_support 5 years, 7 months ago

Perkins and First Watch don't hold a candle to Milton's.

one2no 5 years, 7 months ago

First Watch will never replace Miltons. Perkins could go away and never be missed. For all the people that didn't like Miltons you all were never missed. We did fine every day with out you. The only place in town that did as much breakfast business as we did was McDonald's. Eggs,Eggs,Eggs.

Danielle Brunin 5 years, 7 months ago

Couldn't agree more! The food at Milton's was fine. The attitude was what kept us away.

kansanbygrace 5 years, 7 months ago

Mirth has a great breakfast menu. I really prefer it to Milton's. 1/2 block E. of Mass on 8th St.

Jaime Baggett 5 years, 7 months ago

The thing that I LOVED at Milton's was the David's Blend coffee. It was top notch coffee. I am worried that I will not be able to get it anymore for my relatives as gifts for birthdays and holidays. I love that coffee. It was by far my favorite coffee ever. Sad day!

kansanbygrace 5 years, 7 months ago

Don't worry, David's blend is not exclusive of Milton's at all. It's a common market hazelnut blend. It wasn't made specially for them, just a popular coffee.

parrothead8 5 years, 7 months ago

I read that the Milton's at the Kansas Union will remain open, and I've gotten David's Blend there before.

Jock Navels 5 years, 7 months ago

keim's rocked the breakfast world...nobody has ever even been a contender.

fivedollarmc 5 years, 7 months ago

WHEATFIELDS is better any day than Miltons. COME ONNNNNNNNNNN

one2no 5 years, 7 months ago

Grace its still open and I dout they do half the business on any give day that Miltons did. For mindspeaking you can still get some coffee,just be a couple weeks.

Jean Robart 5 years, 7 months ago

I never ate at Milton's, but did hear a lot of conversation about how good a place to eat it was. It should be interesting finding a good quality breakfast place. Never been to First Watch, but have heard it's pretty good.

08Champs 5 years, 7 months ago

Funny thing is, people eat breakfast on other days too - strange but true. AND people have been known to consume eggs or pancakes outside the a.m. hours and enjoy it! AND some people dont' go to church, or go on Saturday, or later on Sunday. AND some people go out to eat with their family after church because it is a "day of rest", even for the cook, or because they want to. What a strange comment.

msezdsit 5 years, 7 months ago

Well, I for one,(and thats not "eye") after trying to read your posts, would say that probably most people are as happy as you are that you choose to eat at home

phoggyjay 5 years, 6 months ago

"Eating out is not healthy for the most part. Even wilbur can attest to that. The best is to say at home, be miserable and watch TV. It is soooooooooooo lonely to be old and crotchety. But then someone needs to be in Lawrence since most of populace is strung out on pot and in la la land."

Wow. Of all the ridiculous comments written about people who consume cannabis, this has got to be the most asinine statement I've ever read. I wasn't aware that you could get "strung out on pot." Maybe you wouldn't feel so old and crotchety if you vaporized some cannabis. Give it a try sometime.

To borrow a quote, "We get more done after 4:20, than most people do all day."

5thgeneration 5 years, 7 months ago

I hope the coffee and the eggs benedict carry over to the new place. I feel the same kind of loss as I did when the original Drake's Bakery (where the Mad Greek is) closed. I also hope that the new place retains some of the ambiance of Milton's. It was a wonderful atmosphere in which to begin a new day.

moveforward 5 years, 7 months ago

Miltons: killer breakfasts, great coffee... super wait staff, and no attitude at all. The best breakfast place Lawrence has had for over 20 years. This place will be missed. The rest of you can go to denny's or mcd's... and then to taco bell for dinner.

msezdsit 5 years, 7 months ago

Well, i guess a little imagination and fantasy would help Miltons.

itsalwayssunnyinlarry 5 years, 7 months ago

I thought this article stated they had only been open for 15 years?

msezdsit 5 years, 7 months ago

Farewell Miltons. Seems a little risky to leave an established business and take a chance on a new and smaller venue. I understand that the menu at Miltons will largely be buried with the closing. There always seemed to be a lot of attitude at Miltons that could be traced back to the ownership. Real or perceived, that is why I won't miss Miltons. I will give their new spot a slim chance but they will have to overcome the downside Miltons projected.

Give Wheatfields a try. A silver lining in Miltons closing is all you people who always ate their might find Wheatfields to be better. Their bread and their food are prepared on sight and not packaged and shipped in. Niether Perkins or First Watch are downtown nor is their food nearly as good. Perkins is no better than IHOP or Dennys or any other chain with food shipped in. If you want to try a chain that is not downtown, don't forget Panera. For a chain they are probably one of the best.

Evan Ridenour 5 years, 7 months ago

Why are they bringing the staff to the new location? The reason I stopped eating at Miltons years ago (other than the sometimes awful food quality) was the rude staff! Milton's customer service was horrific, even by Lawrence standards!

Rex Hargis 5 years, 7 months ago

5thgeneration--i also miss the old Drake's. Probably the last of the diners in Lawrence. Fried egg sandwich, anyone?

scarlett 5 years, 7 months ago

The latest version of the Haskell Diner had a pretty good egg sandwich. Too bad the latest version has already closed. I wish someone would get their act together and make it the great breakfast place it could be.

Steve Bradt 5 years, 7 months ago

When did they close? I was there last weekend.

scarlett 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm ready to make my own breakfast and sit back and wait for the fireworks between the new partners to start. Stay tuned. This will be an interesting ride.

feetup 5 years, 7 months ago

Not since Drakes have i found a good breakfast spot. Debbie and Karlene I miss you!

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

--- The Eldridge ---, The Mirth ---, Global Cafe ---, Wheatfields ---, First Watch ---. Eggs Etc in the Plaza area ---, the Bluebird( serving local products) @ Summit and 17th street up the street from the new Kauffman Performing Arts Center. --- and more like having friends over for brunch outdoors with coffee.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

Loopy's looks a little small from the street. And the patio landscaping is not too hot. The entire "alley" area needs some serious and beautiful year round Kansas landscaping.

Two of the individuals do know how to cook up some good food. Enjoy the holidays everyone.

Irenaku 5 years, 7 months ago

I was so disappointed to hear about Milton's closing...I have been going there for partner and I had our first date there. I am highly skeptical of this "Loopy's" place, and suspect that it will fold in a couple of years, if not sooner. This is a sad sad sad time. What will be even sadder is when a stupid bar or a hotwings joint opens up in the MIlton's space. Downtown Lawrence is turning into Aggieville. sigh Love you David, but I am NOT very happy with you right now.

lelopaul 5 years, 7 months ago

If you love David, why would you not be happy for him? Milton's had a fine run in downtown. Give Loopy's a chance.

calexander 5 years, 7 months ago

I won't miss it. Although nice to some, the attitude was definitely there. One bad habit was when you came in, by yourself, with two or three people, the wait staff would always say just one. Just should be eliminated. It is a negative alienating term which indicates that the staff doesn't care about you. It should never be used. When you smiled at the owner, he would often turn away, if you had a question, he wouldn't answer. The attitude was definitely there.

I miss Paradise which was a 100 times better, foodwise and atmosphere. At least no running uncooked whites with the eggs. Everyone was welcomed, regulars and new customers.

OutlawJHawk 5 years, 7 months ago

Good riddance. The owner is a complete jerk and I wish him nothing but failure. Ate there several times a week years ago (the food, coffee, and wait staff were great), until one late morning during the week the owner asked me and a business associate to order food or leave (we were drinking coffee). I cannot believe he had the audacity to do this and he did it in a partially filled restaurant during the week...I would never table squat with people waiting as this is my biggest pet peeve. I went back after I cooled down and asked him to explain his actions and/or apologize; he refused and stated he could do what he wants...giant loser. I left after that and have never been back. I am glad to know of his new venture so I won't go there to eat. Wheatfield's gravy and french toast are the best.

edgla 5 years, 7 months ago

Had a similar run-in with the owner a couple of years back. Plenty of other better options out there.

kappyblu 5 years, 7 months ago

I ate there twice with a good friend. Although the Eggs Benedict was fantastic, the service was horrible. They practically rushed us out the door. They were continually taking our plates and wouldn't leave us alone. I never went back after that second time, so no I will not miss it at all. And yes, they have a little place in the Kansas Union, and no I do not visit it at all. A business with service like that does not deserve my business.

blindrabbit 5 years, 7 months ago

Mirth, Mirth, Mirth!!!! N.W. corner of 8th and New Hampshire!!

EarthaKitt 5 years, 7 months ago

Years ago we went to Milton's regularly and had a lovely experience with both food and wait staff. However, after my first son was born we went less regularly because I got the feeling kids weren't welcome. The last time we went, my son (who would have been younger than two) bumped the table causing a bottle of hot sauce to fall off the table and break. Holy moly! The hostile reaction from the owner was incredible. I was mortified. We've never been back and we'll probably not go to his new place either. I miss Paradise.

lunacydetector 5 years, 7 months ago

yes, what is the deal with some businesses in town that don't like kids? heaven forbid you have more than 2 with you as well. is it a KU faculty attitude? my son with my grandchildren has even heard patrons say, 'don't you believe in birth control?' and he has 3 kids. he's heard it more than once and it came from elderly.

JackMcKee 5 years, 7 months ago

Haven't been there in years mostly because the place had an air of pretentiousness that is rivaled only by the finest restaurants in Paris. The place served pancakes and scrambled eggs and toast but you'd think they were serving Steak Au Poivre and the finest wines on the planet.

PhilChiles 5 years, 7 months ago

So...why are they closing again? I don't get it. I can remember being told that they weren't allowed to take "to go" orders on weekends, because of how busy they were. Were there landlord issues? Their business seemed pretty steady.

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

I just saw that a few other places are expanding into breakfast, including Genovese.

Teller's has a decent "brunch" on Sundays, a la carte.

Inquiringmind393 5 years, 7 months ago

Ah Drakes, last of a kind (remember the cuss jar.) Sure wish someone other than the "chains" could serve breakfast at 5 AM for those who start work at 6. Thought we might have had something going when Hayes House was on Kasold, but fizzled pretty fast. Unless you set at the bar, there was some crappy service. Did like their breakfast though.

yaface 5 years, 7 months ago

Milton's will truly be missed. It is a Lawrence staple and loved by many. Think what you will about the owners and the staff, but the truth is they care very deeply about the customers and the city of Lawrence. (At least the current staff). Many of them know almost every customer by first name and are always willing to make sure your breakfast experience is the very best. In a high volume restaurant it is hard not to feel rushed, in order to make the wait time as little as possible you must eat a little faster. The food was GREAT! I wouldn't wait an hour for a table if it wasn't. I am sure that "Loopy's" will be just as amazing with a little twist, the coffee will be the same, the staff will be the same warm and inviting staff you come to see every weekend and best of all they will now be open double the hours! What are you guys complaining for?! I will not be changing my breakfast spot, clearly these people know what there doing or else Milton's wouldn't have been as successful as they were right? (Anybody wishing ill thoughts on another person's business ventures is tacky and rude, you just look like a grump)

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

I will never wait for an hour for a table - it's an absurd thing to ask customers.

Especially when there are easy ways to prevent it, like reservations and call ahead lists.

George_Braziller 5 years, 7 months ago

I waited 20 minutes once just to get a cup for some coffee -- and I was standing at the counter with cash in my hand. That was the last straw for me. Bye, bye Milton's. Won't miss 'ya.

Elephantlover 5 years, 7 months ago

I tried to get a job there once. I had a bandana on covering my mostly bald head from chemotherapy and the lady interviewing me told me I was involved with gangs. I was so ticked I just let her keep going until I got up and walked out.

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