Archive for Friday, September 7, 2012

Town Talk: Godfather’s Pizza closes in West Lawrence; Eileen’s Colossal Cookies reopens; city moving to take next step on curbside recycling but service can’t begin until 2014

September 7, 2012, 9:20 a.m. Updated September 7, 2012, 10:26 a.m.


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News and notes from around town:

• Only my elastic waistband will be happy about this. For years, the all-you-can eat lunch buffet at Godfather’s Pizza in West Lawrence has put a great strain on that strip of elastic. But no more.

There’s a sign up notifying customers that Godfather’s is “officially closed.” I don’t know the circumstances behind the closing of the restaurant, which was located in the shopping center at the southwest corner of Sixth and Wakarusa, just a few doors down from Johnny’s West.

There is a sign on the door notifying locksmiths to not open the door to the restaurant, and a note notifying locksmiths to call what I believe is the property manager or landlord for more information. I’ll let you make of that what you will.

I’m still trying to track down the local operator of that Godfather’s. If I make contact and find out additional information, I’ll let you know.

But it is a sad day in the Lawrence pizza industry. Godfather’s was a longtime presence in the city. I’ve been in Lawrence 20 years, and I’m pretty certain they have been in town that long. Some of you may remember when they were in the Malls Shopping Center, where Wheat State Pizza currently is located.

It also seems that this continues a trend of a decline in all-you-can-eat pizza buffets in Lawrence. (Yeah, I don’t know why the president didn’t mention that as a problem in his speech last night either.) When Pizza Hut closed its downtown location, that ended the all-you-can-eat buffet there. Unless something has changed very recently, Minsky’s — which took over the Pizza Hut spot — does not have a buffet.

I know Pyramid Pizza in downtown still offers an all-you-can-eat buffet, but I’m not certain how many others there are in town. I’m unclear on whether the newer style Pizza Huts offer the buffets, and also not sure on some of the smaller chains and local places, like Wheat State, Glory Days and such.

So, help a guy out. Let me know what you know about this vitally important topic.

UPDATE: I chatted with a source in the commercial real estate industry familiar with the situation at Godfather's. The store had been bought by a Gardner businessman in the last eight months or so. The new owner for whatever reason suddenly closed the business down earlier this month and notified the landlord — Lawrence businessman Greg DiVilbiss — that the restaurant wouldn't be reopening. At the moment, the landlord has possession of all the restaurant's equipment, so I believe there is work going on to try to either convince Godfather's to open a corporate store in the location or to convince another pizza operator to open up in the space.

One other thing I was reminded of when asking around about this is that the pizza market has changed significantly in that shopping center. Morningstar's Pizza has opened just around the corner from the Godfather's spot, serving New York style pizza, which also is served at nearby Johnny's.

• My elastic waistband is not entirely off the hook. Thankfully, it appears there already is some sort of caloric, cosmic balancing going on in the universe. (More evidence that Darwin and his Survival of the Fattest Theory is correct. That is the name of it, right?)

About the time Godfather’s closed, Eileen’s Colossal Cookies has reopened at Sixth and Wakarusa. The cookie shop at 4931 W. Sixth — kind of next to Famous Dave’s BBQ — had been closed for a little over a month.

But the Nebraska-based cookie chain has found a new owner for the location. Becky Johansen, a business woman from Olathe, has purchased the store.

Candice Carpenter, the store’s manager, told me the owners are confident the cookie concept will take off in West Lawrence. In addition to selling normal size cookies to folks who have perhaps eaten a little barbecue at Famous Dave’s or Mexican at Salty Iguana or burgers at Johnny’s (man, Darwin really would love this shopping center), the business also hopes to tap into the birthday and party market.

That’s where the colossal cookies come in. The store sells 12-inch, 14-inch and 16-inch cookies.

“We feel like they are more convenient than a birthday cake because they’re very quick to decorate,” Carpenter said.

The business will operate with new hours of 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

• Back when I was eating six pounds of pizza at the Godfather’s buffet (don’t worry, I also ate a salad), my doctor told me we likely were going to have to recycle my aortic valve at some point.

Well, I have no update on that recycling project, but I do have an update on the possibility of a citywide curbside recycling program.

As we have previously reported, an odd state law won’t allow the city to start a citywide, curbside recycling program until 2014. But the city is not waiting until then to get the process started.

The city has been holding meetings with the existing private operators that offer curbside services in Lawrence. Those meetings are required by state law.

But on Tuesday, city commissioners will be asked to move into the next phase of the process. City staff members want to send out a request for proposals from companies interested in operating a citywide curbside recycling program.

If approved, the RFP could be sent out immediately, and the city could choose a vendor by the end of the year. But as I mentioned earlier, that doesn’t mean curbside service will begin anytime soon. The relatively new state law — designed to protect private haulers from cities that start their own service — requires an 18-month waiting period from the time the city passes a curbside recycling ordinance to the time it can start the service.

City staff members are estimating that the earliest the city could start a new service would be June 11, 2014.

It is not yet a given that the city will start a service at all, however. The city certainly is interested in creating a curbside recycling service, but commissioners have said they’ll have to see how much it will cost before they commit to the idea.

Currently there are about six private contractors that provide service in Lawrence. Residents interested in the service simply contract with whichever company they choose. What city commissioners are contemplating, however, is a system where every household in the city would be charged for curbside recycling services as part of their monthly city trash bill.

The city is considering hiring a private contractor to operate that service, but the city also hasn’t ruled out running the service itself. The results of the RFP will go a long way in determining that.

The RFP results also will shed light on whether it is most feasible to operate a weekly curbside recycling service or a bi-weekly service. I believe commissioners are leaning toward a weekly service, but cost will be a factor.

One other interesting detail to keep an eye on is whether the city structures this RFP so only one company can win the bid or whether it is structured in such a way that the city can be broken into various sections and different providers allowed to bid for each section. Some city commissioners clearly have expressed a reluctance to put out of business the various small haulers that operate today. But from a pure business efficiency standpoint, it likely will be hard to justify anything other than a single hauler.

A couple of other points I noticed from the draft RFP include:

— The city is proposing the winner of the RFP be granted a 7-year contract with the possibility of two 3-year renewals.

— The city estimates that in 2010, the city had a 38 percent recycling rate. It has set a goal of having a 50 percent recycling rate by 2020.

— The private contractor, not the city, would be responsible for buying the recycling carts that would be delivered to households.

— The city expects the winning bidder to provide recycling services to the apartment complexes in the community. The city indicates the company will be required to provide recycling Dumpsters to apartment complexes.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall to discuss the recycling issue.


Hooligan_016 5 years, 6 months ago

Ci-Ci's is buffet ... however I've only been there once. Never again.

Chad Lawhorn 5 years, 6 months ago

Don't know how I forgot that one. Buffalo chicken pizza, fettuccine alfredo pizza and my daughter's favorite, mac and cheese pizza.

Hooligan_016 5 years, 6 months ago

When I was there, a kid of about 8 came up to the line and requested anchovies. I looked at him in wide-eyed horror.

Topple 5 years, 6 months ago

If you are expecting Papa Johns-quality pizza for $4.99 with a drink then you are fooling yourself. You ever hear the saying "you get what you pay for?"

deec 5 years, 6 months ago

That's true, but the one time we went there to celebrate a birthday, the silverware and glasses were dirty, there were only a few pizzas out, and they were ice cold. There were numerous dirty tables as well.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 6 months ago

Wow, "Papa Johns" and "quality pizza" in the same sentence.

Topple 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm sorry I didn't say Rudy's-quality (disgusting pizza) instead. What would be a more appropriate analogy? I and most everyone I know finds Papa Johns to be about the best quality/taste pizza joint around save maybe D'Bronx in Overland Park and a few other specialized, non-chain style pizza restaurants.

Granted, I've never had Papa Johns in Lawrence, but it was consistently fantastic in Washington and KC.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 6 months ago

The Lawrence ones are pretty iffy. Johnny's North is probably the most consistent in town. For KC, Waldo Pizza is a good bet, though I've heard good things about D'Bronx so thanks for the reminder!

Topple 5 years, 6 months ago

Johnny's does have some darn good pizza. I've only had it at Johnny's West but it was some great thin-crust pizza. I've never actually had Waldo Pizza but heard it was great.

If you haven't tried 23rd Street Brewery's pizza it's definitely worth a shot. It's more the thin-crust style but stacked an inch high with toppings. Very delicious and even good to reheat.

parrothead8 5 years, 6 months ago

Nobody who enjoys their food should expect "Papa Johns-quality pizza." Ever. At any price.

LogicMan 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes, if you want it fast and cheap, Ci-Ci's is hard to beat. But as described above, don't expect the best pizza if you are paying only a little for it.

Dan Klamet 5 years, 6 months ago

Slice of History at the Oread has a lunch buffet every day from 11:30AM-1:30PM . It's decent for five bucks plus a drink if you have a student ID.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

Sounds like Godfather's is seriously behind on the rent. (Maybe Herman Cain will come to the rescue.)

parrothead8 5 years, 6 months ago

If their rent is the problem, they need Jimmy McMillan more than Herman Cain.

jehovah_bob 5 years, 6 months ago

We went to Godfather's after their "remodel". Nothing was remodeled. There was only one pizza on the buffet at a time and the more "professional" of the buffet crowd had that scarfed up faster than the digestive aftermath of eating Godfather's pizza.

Brent Cagle 5 years, 6 months ago

CiCi's is the only one I'm aware of currently. Past pizza buffets that have come and gone:

Valentino's, Mr. Gatti's, Pizza Street, Pizza Hut, Old Chicago (lunch only), Godfather's, Gambino's

ksdoxielover 5 years, 6 months ago

Gambino's is also missing. We went there last Wednesday for their evening pizza buffet- and the place was closed up and all signage was down! We are so disappointed!

Danielle Brunin 5 years, 6 months ago

They sent out an e-mail two weeks ago notifying customers that that Saturday night was their last night because they just couldn't get the business to take off. We're sad too. I just wish they had advertised more. If we weren't Gambino's fans and just happen to see they had opened a Lawrence location, we never would've even known that they were here, let alone people who've never heard of Gambino's.

jackpot 5 years, 6 months ago

Funny AdChoices has a Godfather's coupons ad on it.

Dan Rose 5 years, 6 months ago

Still have Pyramid Pizza on Mass, lunch buffet 11am-1:30pm - good stuff, and open until 3am if needed!

Mike Hatch 5 years, 6 months ago

Godfathers has always been my favorite. I've never been able to have their buffet, though. They've been in Lawrence since at least the later 70s. We'd go there on Sundays---that was free Coke day if you bought a pizza. They'd gotten pretty expensive, though, even with their coupons (which weren't that great of a deal). They used to do buy one/get one coupons that were a great deal. I called Monday night for delivery and thought they were just closed early for the holiday when there was no answer.

Eileen's cookies are wonderful! I just wish their hours were expanded. They sell day-old doznes for half price that are just as good as the "fresh" ones. They've got a lot of great combinations.

I miss Valentino's.

Topple 5 years, 6 months ago

I always loved Godfathers, which makes me feel bad that they closed since I've never actually eaten at the Lawrence location in the two years I've lived here.

They never were that competitive on price (excluding buffet), but definitely had a unique taste to them.

My Lawrence business contacts have said they haven't been turning a profit despite the volume they're moving. My response? That's the restaurant business for you. Most lose money. Doesn't help that every intersection in Lawrence has a pizza place, and most non-pizza restaurant still services pizza.

I can't imagine Morningstar took away too much repeat business. Their "New York style" pizza is about as flavorful as a frozen Classics brand pizza from Hy-Vee but with an added quart of grease on each slice. My guess is Morningstar will follow suit and close their doors sooner rather than later. You have to have something very unique and appealing to last as a restaurant, and pizza in Lawrence is about as unique as a Jayhawk fan.

Topple 5 years, 6 months ago

I went to Eileen's Colossal Cookies for my friends' birthday for a Harry Potter decorated sugar cookie cake. I have to say I was incredibly impressed. It looked awesome, and tasted great. I didn't give them a design or picture, they just winged it and came up with a very cool iced picture of Harry Potter with a wand and his owl on his shoulder. My friends were more ecstatic about the cake than any presents they got.

My work also recently did a fund raiser for March of Dimes through Eileen's and sold cookie dough. I tried the peanut butter and it's great. Definitely a fun shop.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 6 months ago

This new trash service and its cousin the recycling has everything to do with the city needing additional sources of revenue to control its run away spending. What are they going to do next when they need additional sources.

Cities all over the country that are going bankrupt have given us this model to look at. It starts with user fee increases from things like the water treatment plants. You see how ours is packaged.

Keep your eyes open and your hands on your wallet. Bankruptcy is coming to a town near you.

Windemere 5 years, 6 months ago

As for recycling, hope it's weekly , not biweekly, pick up for recycling. Come real close to filling my deffenbaugh can each week. Also hope city device allows mixing of materials.

Dayna Hughes 5 years, 6 months ago

Does anyone know what is being built on the SE corner of 6th and Congrssional, behind Famous Dave's?

Chad Lawhorn 5 years, 6 months ago

It is this: I don't yet have names on the tenants. Will pass it along when I get it. Thanks, Chad

HawkitToEm 5 years, 6 months ago

there are no lawrence-based compainies operating curbside recycling that could handle the whole city. if they hire a private contractor it would probably be deffenbaugh, which is a multi-national company, and i think might even be based in missouri. we should keep our dollars local! the set up now is great!! Sunflower Curbside Recycling is a great company!

parrothead8 5 years, 6 months ago

Who needs an all-you-can-eat buffet when you get a slice as big as your face from Papa Keno's?

Poochie 5 years, 6 months ago

Yum! Love morningstars...especially their calzones and heros! Oh and their cheesy garlic bread...last time I was in there I got to meet Coach Self!

bornon7 5 years, 6 months ago

HE probably got HIS pizza free. He is a human being.

scarlett 5 years, 6 months ago

But what if you don't recycle? What then? Is the city going to charge me anyway, when I give them nothing. I also don't think I need another cart to squeeze into my garage. Maybe I can use it for storage.

greenworld 5 years, 6 months ago

i 2nd that on papa keno's. best pizza and papa sticks..Yum!!!

Mary Ellen Hall 5 years, 6 months ago

What I don't get about Eileen's is that they are barely open late enough for people who work to get there during the week. I like a treat after dinner but I would have to plan ahead to make Eileen's an option - and that's not gonna happen. That's why I loved Blue Chip when they were open - yummy post-dinner cookie treats!

Hoots 5 years, 6 months ago

If you haven't tried Tad's Pizza you're missing out. I got everyone at work hooked on it. It's just that addictive. They have it by the slice as well at a much cheaper price compared to most places in town. I like Johnny's West pizza as well. I always get great service there. Used to be a Keno's fan but that place has had way too much drama with the unpaid taxes mess and the state going after them for nonpayment of wages. Tried Morningstar and was unimpressed. Maybe I caught them on a bad day but my pizza was super skimpy on the toppings and it was cold. You can't beat Papa Murphy's take-n-bake for the money.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 6 months ago

I've lived in this town since '94 and didn't know we had a Godfather's; perhaps that explains why they closed. For my money, you can't beat Wheat State's pizza.

JackMcKee 5 years, 6 months ago

Lawrence should not be getting into the recycling business. There are private businesses that are providing adequate service for those who wish to recycle. Most recycling actually costs more in economic and environmental terms that it saves. I know this is counterintuitive, but the things that are smart to recycle have been recycled for decades. Steel and aluminum, for example. To charge people money for someone else's misguided ideological crusade is an abuse of government power.

JackMcKee 5 years, 6 months ago

As for the great pizza debate, I've had Tad's and was not impressed. It reminded me of Sbarro. Wheatstate has an average pie, certainly nothing earth shattering. By far the best pie in Lawrence is the original Johnny's. It's the only location that makes good pizza, there is magic in their pizza ovens. Pyramid also makes a pretty decent slice. The rest of them are just OK.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 6 months ago

I've gone to the original Johnny's twice to get pizza. Both times, it took me longer to have a waitress take my order than it did to cook the pizza. For this reason alone, I'm a loyal Wheat State guy.

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