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Southern fried chicken restaurant coming to West Lawrence; an overview of city's proposed rental licensing program

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It is time for me to restock the supply of wet wipes in the F-150's glove box. A new fried chicken place — with a drive-thru — is coming to west Lawrence.

The spot inside the Miller Mart gas station at 3300 W. Sixth St. is ready for its latest culinary adventure: D-Lux Southern Fried Chicken. Over the years, the gas station spot has served as the launching pad for several notable Lawrence restaurants. The Basil Leaf Cafe, Tortas Jalisco and Biemer's BBQ are the better-known of the group.

Well, a trained chef who has traveled the country is betting that fried chicken will be the next culinary trend to take hold in the spot. Robert Douglas has worked as a chef and culinary executive in several resorts and casinos in the western U.S. But he's originally from Georgia and South Carolina, which are better known as Fried Chicken Country.

Douglas plans to open D-Lux Southern Fried Chicken next week, and when he does, he'll be touting a unique 48-hour fried chicken process. (I'm familiar with it. It usually takes me 48 hours to eat enough fried chicken to satisfy my appetite.) Actually, I'm told that is not the process he's talking about. Instead, he's talking about a process taught to him by his grandmother where the chicken sits in a brine for at least 24 hours.

"The big difference between this chicken and other chicken is that we take the time to brine it," Douglas said. "That is how you make sure it gets seasoned all the way to the bone."

The chicken also uses a wet batter of hydrated peppers, garlic and other spices, Douglas said.

In addition to the chicken, Douglas said D-Lux will be making its own side dishes, which include mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, braised greens, pickled beets, applesauce, and even homemade pickles, spicy mushrooms and spicy pimento cheese. By the way, there also will be homemade hot sauce. (If you are driving by the F-150 and see me sucking on a wet wipe, you'll know what's up.)

Although the whole process from start to finish takes 48 hours, Douglas and his business partner, Lawrence's David Bennett, are designing the restaurant to be quick-service oriented. (Just to clarify, there are a couple of Lawrence businessmen by the name of David Bennett. This is the one that also is an executive with Blue Sky Satellite in Lawrence.) Chicken will be made in batches so that it can be served without a long wait. That also will allow for the restaurant to have a drive-thru.

"You will be able to get a six pack of beer and a whole fried chicken to go," Douglas told me.

I haven't yet seen a menu for the restaurant, but Douglas said he's planning for an average meal to cost between $6 and $10. Douglas hopes to be open next week, and he plans for hours to be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday thru Saturday.

In other news and notes from around town:

• We had an article this weekend about the city's proposed rental regulations and some privacy concerns that are being raised related to the program's inspection process. As I was researching that article, several items came up, and not all of them made them into the article. One was a story about how the city of Manhattan, which had a rental inspection program and then repealed it, sent four student renters to jail for violations related to its rental ordinance. I wasn't able to interview Manhattan officials about that case (it didn't come to my attention until pretty late in the reporting process), but I did find a 2011 news article about it. I thought I would pass it along because some opponents of the Lawrence proposal are citing the case as an example of government overreach when it comes to these types of programs. You can make of it what you will. The article comes from Manhattan's weekly newspaper, which was one of the staunchest opponents to the city's rental registration ordinance.

• Lawrence's proposed rental registration program has been quite the talk recently because commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will consider giving final approval to the program. A big part of the discussion likely will be what inspectors are instructed to look for as part of the inspections of rental units. The city has been tweaking the list of proposed violations for more than a month. They have created a list of major and minor violations, but, as it is proposed now, a unit can have an unlimited number of minor violations and still be eligible to receive an incentive from the city, as long as the minor violations are fixed within a reasonable period of time. (City staff is proposing 30 days for most violations.) The incentive is that the property owner won't have to go through a city inspection for six years. Properties that don't receive the incentive are subject to inspection every three years. Click here to see the complete list of minor violations, as proposed by city staff. Here's a sampling:

— Inoperable bathroom ventilation fan;

— Clogged drains;

— Dirty furnace filter

— Improperly fitting interior or exterior doors;

— Extension cords used for permanent power source;

— Grass or weeds in violation of the city's weed ordinance;

— Lack of deadbolt lock on exterior doors;

— Missing covers on light switches or electrical outlets;

— Smoke detectors inoperable;

— Upholstered furniture on a deck or porch.

The city staff also is recommending a list of major violations. If a property has one or more major violations, it would not be eligible for the incentive program. Click here to see a complete list of the major violations, as proposed. Here's a sampling:

— Backed up or collapsed sewer line;

— Ceiling height requirements not met;

— Dryer, furnace or hot water heater not properly vented;

— Egress requirements not met for bedrooms;

— Large amounts of mold or other fungus;

— Smoke detectors not present on each floor and in each sleeping room;

— Badly leaking roofs;

— Structural deficiencies with the building's roof, foundation, stairs or other components;

— Lack of a heating system that can keep the property at a 68 degree temperature;

— Exposed or frayed electrical wiring.

• For those of you who want more details, here's a pretty good city memo that outlines how the program is proposed to work. It also provides details on how the city's current system of rental inspections work. That system — except for rentals in single-family zoned neighborhoods — requires a tenant to call and ask for an inspection. The city conducted 34 of those inspections in 2012. Nineteen of them were related to a North Lawrence trailer park that had badly deteriorated. The memo provides details on the other 15 inspections, and some of the violations inspectors found. They ranged from a broken staircase bannister to large amounts of mold, inoperable toilets, and leaking roofs.

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