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Basil Leaf Cafe signs deal to locate in former Joe's Bakery building by June or July


Maybe our future includes a mole sauce made out of the glaze from the famous donuts once served at Joe’s Bakery.

Well, probably not. But the old Joe’s Bakery building at 616 W. Ninth St. is getting a new restaurant tenant that has a history of trying about anything. After all, it has been serving high-end food out of a gasoline station for the last three and a half years.

That’s right, the Basil Leaf Cafe has signed a deal to locate in the former bakery building near Ninth and Indiana streets that was a late-night college institution for decades. Basil Leaf chef and owner Brad Walters told me he hopes to have the restaurant open by June, although the timeline may get stretched to early July.

If you are not familiar with the Basil Leaf, you must drive some sort of miracle hover craft that allows you to ignore gasoline stations. Basil Leaf is located in the small kitchen space of the convenience store gas station at Sixth Street and Frontier Road in West Lawrence.

The restaurant is looking to become the third establishment to launch a successful eatery from the space. (Alex, I’ll have Gas Station Cuisine for $500: What are Tortas Jalisco and Biemer’s BBQ?)

Figuring out how to categorize Basil Leaf is a bit of a trick. The restaurant’s take out menu certainly has several standard Italian dishes on it, but it also is not unusual to find soups, house-made moles, risottos, dumplings and other things I frequently watch being made on the Food Network while I sit on my couch and partake in the fine cuisine of Doritos and Slim Jims.

In fact, Walters said you could find anything from Cajun to French to Korean to diner food on the menu.

“I try to play with all cuisine. Nothing is off limits,” Walters said. “I guess I would say it is seasonal Kansas cuisine with some world flavors in there.”

Currently, the best way to categorize Basil Leaf is to call it small. The restaurant’s current space has six tables that are “pretty cramped right now.” Even though the Joe’s Bakery building isn’t overly large, it will about double the space of the restaurant, and Walters expects business to triple.

The dining room of the new restaurant will have space for about 50 diners, and Walters said he’ll be working to create a more full-service in-house dining menu. But don’t worry Basil Leaf take-out fans. Walters said the carry out menu will remain.

But Walters is excited to see what the extra space can allow him to create. He said he expects to add more seafood, chicken, pork and steak dishes. Importantly, he said the space will allow him to have a full bar, including wine offerings.

“On our carryout menu, we’ll get something set in stone, but our in-house menu definitely will be seasonal and we’ll probably be doing some monthly wine dinners in there.” Walters said.

Walters said he hopes the restaurant will fall into the category of “super casual upscale.” (Wait a second. I didn’t know we could make up our own categories.)

“It will be fresh and prepared in-house, but as far as upscale pricing, I’m not going to focus on that. It will be good local cuisine and local comfort food.”

Walters didn’t mention anything about donuts, but he did say something about taking the building back to its roots in one way: He’s going to consider a late-night breakfast menu.

A stop at that building after a night on the town would create some nostalgia for some. (Alex, I’ll have Drunken, Late-Night College Memories for $1,000: What is donut glaze on my . . . )


PikesPeakJhawk 5 years ago

AWESOME!!!!! Can't wait for a bigger spot for this business.....LOVE the food!! (guess I'll be eating there today to celebrate)!!

Tammy Copp-Barta 5 years ago

This place is truly a hidden gem. LOVE the food there!! Can't wait for it to be closer to where I work :)

brm08 5 years ago

Basil Leaf is honestly one of the best (if not THE best) places to eat in Lawrence! The food is amazing, and you always get at least two meals out of whatever you order. Awesome food and very reasonable prices. If you have never been there, GO TODAY!

walterbradley 5 years ago

Thanks for the write up and yes for those who have never heard of us check us out..but not all at once lol :). We are in a super small space right now and short staffed until I hire for the new spot but we will prep up big for the rest of the week to serve all of you who decide to flock in like wild birds all week. We are very very excited to get into an amazing new historic location and show what we can truly do. And YES!! at some point people may see a few unique spins and twists on doughnuts pop up now and then. Please do try us when we open in our new space as the food and ambiance will truly impress you if what we do now hasn't thus far. Follow us on Facebook for status updates and progress on our remodel at The Basil Leaf Cafe

rlmtyco 5 years ago

Your food is amazing, we got our food from you for our Rehearsal Dinner and everyone raved about it, we had food for darn near a week afterwards, even froze some of it and ate it a month later, sooooo sooooo good....highly recommend your business to anyone and everyone.

mac 5 years ago

If you're thinking wine, thnk Jensen's! Talk to Jeff; he's a great wine guy.

alittlecurious 5 years ago

How many parking spaces go with the new location?

walterbradley 5 years ago

There is off street parking provided and I am working with surrounding businesses to hopefully create more spaces in the evening hours for dinner as well.

Sue Grosdidier 5 years ago

I agree, there is no parking, why would they choose that location? It has good visibility but what good is that if you cannot find somewhere to park. This is a great restaurant, I was hoping for a better location.

Alpenglow 5 years ago

Love their food!!!! Wish they would introduce some entrees that are not so carb-heavy and we would eat there more often.

walterbradley 5 years ago

Stay tuned those entree's are on the way and the new menu will certainly have a lighter theme to it hope to see you there.

bigyums 5 years ago

I <3 Basil Leaf SO GOOD. Can't wait to see what happens.

Now I have to get some tonight!

msezdsit 5 years ago

Never heard of the place but now that I have, maybe I can contribute to the "triple in size" portion of the restaurant.

MarcoPogo 5 years ago

Eating a serving of their macaroni and cheese will help you "triple in size". This stuff is dangerously declious...

riverdrifter 5 years ago

Best eating joint in Lawrence! Congrats on the move Brad. Hope it works well for you.

xyz 5 years ago

Great news about the restaurant, and thanks for the Jeopardy chuckles, Chad!

irvan moore 5 years ago

never heard of it and now I think I gotta give it a try

obamasocks 5 years ago

Wait, where am I going to get gas now???

pace 5 years ago

Great, close to home. I hope they make a large Togo menu.

HoneyBadger1 5 years ago

This West sider will make the trek to this great culinary gem at their new local. I hope that this move allows them to have more regular business hours. At times they would be closed for various reasons or be out of some of their signature entree's. I was wondering about the parking also.

jack22 5 years ago

I'm real eager to try out the new location. I didn't get out to the old location as much as I would have liked as it was a little too far away from my home and work. This more centrally located destination is going to be a popular choice for me, especially because I'll be able to walk or ride a bike over there. It would be cool to see a bike rack placed outside for us less car dependent folk.

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