Archive for Monday, November 19, 2012

Town Talk: Dillons on Sixth Street seeking to add drive-thru pharmacy, $1 million worth of improvements; downtown restaurants scramble to pick up breakfast diners; city to contemplate Varsity House

November 19, 2012


News and notes from around town:

• Soon, Lawrence grocery stores will cook the food and spoon-feed it to you. That’s how competitive the Lawrence grocery market seemingly has become. (Maybe they will start making the little airplane noises with the spoon. I love that.)

If you don’t believe me, just think about the millions of dollars Lawrence grocers have spent in the last few years to entice you to their stores. There is the new Dillons on Massachusetts Street, the expanded and remodeled Hy-Vee on Clinton Parkway, the expansion of Dillons at Sixth and Wakarusa, a brand new grocery with the Walmart at Sixth and Wakarusa and almost every store in town — from Checkers to the other Dillons and Hy-Vee locations — have made smaller improvements to spiff up the interiors.

Well, there is another million dollar project on the way. Officials at Dillons have filed plans at City Hall to add a drive-thru pharmacy at its 3000 W. Sixth Street store, which is the one near Sixth and Lawrence Avenue.

I haven’t yet seen the full set of plans submitted to City Hall, so I’m a little short on details at the moment. But the company is seeking to do $1.36 million worth of work at the location. The application states the company will add a drive-up pharmacy window with a canopy, will re-stripe a portion of the parking lot and will include new landscaping for the site.

But the application also makes mention of other “interior building renovations.” I’m not sure what those are. I’ll take a look at the actual blueprints later today and see if I can ascertain more. (Ah, blueprints. They always make we want to go home and start re-arranging walls in my house.)

The project, however, does not propose enlarging the grocery store building. The plans call for the building to remain at 60,151 square feet. (A quick side note: I’ve had some people ask me how much smaller the new Dillons store on Mass. Street is to the other Dillons. Well, the Dillons on Mass. is about 45,000 square feet, and I just told you this store is 60,151 square feet. Don’t mind the fellow taking his shoes off right now. He’s just doing Missouri math.)

I’ll update this space later today, if I get in touch with folks at Dillons or find out more about their renovation plans.

• Maybe the new drive-thru pharmacy at Dillons will sell some sort of pill for folks having withdrawal symptoms from the popular and recently closed breakfast spot Milton’s in downtown Lawrence.

I know everybody has their own opinions about whether Milton’s was the best thing since sliced bread, but it sure appears the closing has gotten the attention of several downtown restaurant owners.

At least two existing restaurants have started serving breakfast or have expanded their breakfast hours since the news from Milton’s came down.

Genovese, 941 Mass., is now serving breakfast from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. I checked out its menu, and it is not an Italian breakfast, whatever that would be. (Spaghetti and eggs would be good . . . as long as there were enough Mimosas.) Genovese’s menu includes largely traditional favorites but perhaps with a little bit more of an upscale twist. The menu includes Belgian waffles with fruit (where I’m from, a banana on your waffle is upscale), Spanish, Denver and California-style omelets, eggs Florentine, eggs and corned beef hash, in addition to good old eggs with bacon or sausage.

The Mexican restaurant Cielito Lindo, 815 New Hampshire St., is going after the breakfast market in an even bigger way. It is now serving breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays. Staff members at the restaurant tell me they have hired one of Milton’s longtime breakfast cooks to oversee their breakfast operations.

The menu includes a mix of Mexican and American dishes. On the Mexican side, there is Huevos a la Mexicana, which is eggs with beans and red or green sauce with tortillas. There’s also Huevos con Chorizo and Huevos Ranchero.

The American fare is traditional diner style breakfast, meaning pancakes, eggs, hashbrowns, fried breakfast meat and several other reasons to lie to your doctor about your diet.

Even before the Milton’s closing, the downtown breakfast market had become more competitive with places like Global Cafe and Mirth opening in recent years and largely focusing on a breakfast-oriented menu.

• It is not a flapjack, but it has created some flap. I’m talking about the Varsity House project at 10th and Indiana streets. As we reported last week, the City Commission is set to consider a $50,000 offer from builder Thomas Fritzel to resolve a dispute over whether the old house was properly moved to make way for an apartment project at the site.

When I reported on Fritzel’s offer — which in summary is to guarantee $50,000 in donations to the Douglas County Community Foundation to be used for historic preservation efforts in the community — I didn’t have an electronic copy of his letter to city commissioners. But I do now, and you can click here to read the letter, which includes all the basic details of his offer and why he decided to disassemble the house rather than move it in a more traditional manner.

Commissioners will consider Fritzel’s offer at their 6:35 p.m. meeting on Tuesday at City Hall. Commissioners mainly will have to decide whether the $50,000 offer is appropriate restitution for what commissioners believe is a lack of adherence to the approved site plans for the project.

As part of that process, commissioners will be presented with a list of materials that are being re-used in the Varsity House project. The list, which was compiled by city staff members, shows that a lot of the old Varsity House material is being re-used. Historic preservationists, though, note there is a difference between re-using a piece of old material somewhere in the project versus replacing it in the manner that it was originally used.

That sounds like quite a philosophical debate, and one I can’t have on an empty stomach. So, I’ll call that a wrap for Town Talk today, and I’m going to get some breakfast.

Vrooom! Vroom! (Yes, that is my spoon you hear.)


Mike Myers 5 years, 7 months ago

How unbelieveably brazen and audacious that mr. fritzel would suggest that he gets to decide how, what amounts to his own fine will be spent. That is the most absurd thing I've ever heard. The city commission has given him a way to save face and he has used it for his own soapbox. Puhleeze!

Gareth Skarka 5 years, 7 months ago

Hey, here's a thought: Why doesn't the Commission respond with an actual penalty for Fritzel's continual flagrant violations -- by denying any permits to him for the next 5 years?

Sue McDaniel 5 years, 7 months ago

AND Fritzel again does whatever he wants, money talks BS walks. I can think of a few other local names that belive the same. i.e. Compton.........

Armored_One 5 years, 7 months ago

Here's a spiffy idea.

You don't like how your governmental members are performing, don't put them back in office again. Even better, run against them. I love how everyone whines and complains about this company or that company and how they have city council in their proverbial back pockets, but I can't remember the last time anyone mounted anything close to an effective campaign against any city council member.

Maybe it's just easier to sit back and whine about it than actually DO something about the situation. Pretty much fits the mentality of today's society.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

Yea, quit your job, run for city commission. Unless, of course, you work in a job that can benefit from ruling in the "right" way. Then, you don't need to quit your job at all, because things will be looking up once you're on the commission, and voting the "right" way.

Armored_One 5 years, 7 months ago

So you should get marked down in the "I could care less just so long as I get to whine adn complain about something" column. Well, one down, at least.

Oh, and if no one ever tries to change something, genius, then nothing does change. I know it's hard to grasp, so feel free to take some time to get comfortable with the fact.

patkindle 5 years, 7 months ago

perhaps a 50K donation is tax deductible. but a 50K fine isnt?? no one ever said the guy is stupid

victor_lustig 5 years, 7 months ago

Site plans are legal contracts between the city and a property owner that describes the manner in which a property has to be developed. Violations of a site plan and its agreement is illegal.

Thomas Fritzel is a habitual violator of site plans and site plan agreements at the Varsity House apartment project and others. His motto "Its easier to ask for forgiveness then it is to get permission".

homergoodtimes 5 years, 7 months ago

oneeye_wilbur. Remember when Schumm took more then $50,000 dollars for a fire sprinkler system in his private business downtown. Shortly after Schumm received over $50K from the city's fire sprinkler grant program, the program ended. Schumm personally lobbied for its approval.

$50K must be the magic number for politicians.

hujiko 5 years, 7 months ago

“Why would anyone worry about how we are doing our job?” -Fritzel

Gee, I wonder. Couldn't be that you're a patented liar or anything.

minimadoff 5 years, 7 months ago


Schumm has to polish up Fritzel's public image so it's easier for them to hold hands in public while they fleece the taxpayers over the recreation center. It's incredible how the city and KU are covering for this sleaze bag. The Varsity House apartments will be used by KU Athletic's for housing the football team has soon as they are finished. The slap on the wrist of a $50,000 donation offered by Fritzel is nothing compared to the rental income of 50 plus units. It's not clear in the letter who is paying the so called donation. If the city was being operated on the up and up it would level a fine of $150,000 - $200,000 dollars for blatant site plan violations had insist they be paid by Thomas Fritzel not unknown donors. If the commissioners approve this scam they should be made to pay $50,000 each personally.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 7 months ago

Why would KU house football players in Varsity House (which is a private apartment complex owned by the same people who own Tuckaway) when they just remodeled Jayhawker Towers? I don't think KU has anything to do with Varsity house anymore.

EarthaKitt 5 years, 7 months ago

The guy built a really tacky monolith on top of our mountain and then put astroturf down in the yard around the house he bought in Old West Lawrence. I think we can all agree that perhaps he shouldn't be making any big decisions regarding historic preservation or integrity of environs.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

minimadoff is right on every point. Hats off.

lawrencereporter 5 years, 7 months ago

Sinclair is in violation of the city's environmental code, she was to clean up her yard but continues to make a bigger mess instead. Schumm and company will come down hard on Ms. Sinclair to make a point. Staff did a great job taking pictures of well kept homes in the area to prove Ms. Sinclair is somewhat a hoarder. The city should hire to Fritzel to chop up her house with chain saws into useable pieces, haul them away, bring back only what he wants and let him nail together a smaller version of the house so he will have more room to fit apartments on the remaining lot. Just like he did at the Varsity House.

Jean Robart 5 years, 7 months ago

It's about time something was done on interior/exterior of the Dillon's at 6th and Lawrence. It's dark and crammed. The drive-thru pharmacy is a good idea, but PLEASE do some major work on the inside of the store!

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 7 months ago

I love the 6th & Lawrence Ave. Dillons! The employees are great, and it's small enough that I get through quickly. I can always find a decent spot in the parking lot. I hate going to 23rd Street or 6th & Wakarusa. Even 6th Street Hy-Vee is a little large for me. I don't know what's so great about Hy-Vee on Clinton Parkway. They have barely any variety in their brands. I only go there for cat food since Dillons has stopped carrying medium bags of Purina. Haven't been in Dapper Dillons yet. Checkers scares me a little bit. I don't really go to Target or Walmart for groceries.

LWbored 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm with you on leaving Dillon's alone. The pharmacy expansion sounds nice as they are busy and overworked. No thank you to the mega-store. I don't have 2 hours to shop.

melott 5 years, 6 months ago

""The Mexican restaurant Cielito Lindo, 815 New Hampshire St., is going after the breakfast market in an even bigger way. It is now serving breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays. Staff members at the restaurant tell me they have hired one of Milton’s longtime breakfast cooks to oversee their breakfast operations."

NOPE. No one there today at 9:30 AM.

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