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.)