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Teller's restaurant to change name and concept to Merchants Pub & Plate


It’s official: Teller’s restaurant is now a thing of the past.

We reported in May that the downtown institution Teller’s, 746 Massachusetts St., was closing to undergo renovations and a change in concept from Italian-American eatery to a gastropub.

But at the time, the owners weren’t sure whether the Teller’s name would remain. Well, new chef TK Peterson and general manager Philip Wilson have announced the new restaurant will be called Merchants Pub & Plate. The name pays homage to the Merchants National Bank, which the duo says was the first tenant of the historic bank building at the corner of Eighth and Massachusetts streets.

Folks will have to wait a bit longer, though, to see what a pub and plate restaurant involves. The restaurant is still undergoing renovations, and is not set to open until mid-August.

But as you can imagine, any restaurant with pub in its name is going to have a strong emphasis on beer. The restaurant plans to have 30 beers on tap, plus wines and “craft cocktails.” (I think that means you have to knit while you drink — which is the best way to knit — but I’m not sure of that.)

As for the menu, the duo is describing it as a “new dining concept reflective of the region.” I haven’t seen a full menu for the establishment, but the announcement mentioned “locally-inspired pub fare” such as homemade pimento cheese, fried green tomato sandwiches, and grilled quail panzanella salad.

The restaurant also plans to offer something called a “Chef’s Table.” It will be a single table at the restaurant that can be reserved for one seating per night. The menu for the table will be personally designed and prepared by Peterson, previously was the chef at The Oread hotel.

The restaurant will provide samples from its menu at the Phoenix Gallery during the Final Fridays event downtown this Friday.

I know some of you have gift certificates to Teller’s and want to know if they will be honored at the new restaurant. That wasn’t mentioned in the announcement. I’m checking on it, and if I get word about it, I’ll provide an update in this space. UPDATE: I've heard back from a representative of the restaurant who says Merchants gladly will accept gift certificates from Teller's.


kernal 4 years, 5 months ago

Oh, good. Another pub/brewery restaurant. I was afraid they were going the way of the dinosaur as we have so few of them in Lawrence.

GUMnNUTS 4 years, 5 months ago

I hope TK puts out better food with this venture than he did at 5-21. Ate there twice with very disapointing results.The service was fine but the food was bland and ill prepared.

thepianoman 4 years, 5 months ago

I sure hope he's making the right descision. He's tampering with a brand/name that's been around for years. That's awful risky. What do I know? I don't own a restaurant.

Hooligan_016 4 years, 5 months ago

Nor do I, but I have watched quite a bit of Gordon Ramsay though. Haha.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 5 months ago

I don't own a restaurant, either.

But, I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!

chootspa 4 years, 5 months ago

I don't either, but I have read enough Bordain to know he thinks the practice is pretty risky, too.

Rae Smith Evans 4 years, 5 months ago

oh...goody.....another one. This one is opening with a chef with not the best reputation for flavor in this town. Sigh.....

flloyd 4 years, 5 months ago

Best of luck to the new owners. Thirty beers on tap? Right on!!!

Please include some vegan items on your menu. Our planet will thank you!

MerchantsOnMass 4 years, 5 months ago

Thanks, flloyd!

We plan to have a menu that is flexible to dietary preferences, including Vegan. We appreciate your support!

Kaplow 4 years, 5 months ago

That's great to hear, Lawrence is really lacking in vegan options! Best of luck with the change over, Teller's definitely needed a larger step than just a new menu this time.

Virgil_Caine 4 years, 5 months ago

Teller's had a good run, but their concept had run its course. At one time I would have said it was one of the top two or three places in town, but not in recent years. The menu was boring, and the food was pretty hit-or-miss. For the prices they were charging, you can do so much better in Lawrence these days. I really like the idea of Merchants, and I can't wait to try it out.

Brian Laird 4 years, 5 months ago

Well, changing the name and concept worked so well for Milton's.

Jimmy 4 years, 5 months ago

I'm excited for the change-up. For craft beer lovers, this is something Lawrence has been missing. Yeah there are plenty of place with 5-10 taps and a ton of bottles, but 30 taps is a big leap forward. Hopefully they have a good bar area and focus on keeping those taps rotating with interesting beers. And of course I hope they do a nice job with the food too!

kef104 4 years, 5 months ago

Never change a name that is established and respected. Unless this place is seriously better than FreeState Brewery, which is next to impossible, it will probably not make it.

flloyd 4 years, 5 months ago

With an attitude such as yours, no wonder this country if in such dire straits...

friendlyjhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

Will the food be better and the portions a little larger? And will the prices be low, medium or high?

MerchantsOnMass 4 years, 5 months ago

Hi, friendlyjhawk,

We hope you'll find the food portions satisfying – we'll have many different options to offer for smaller or larger appetites. And with the variety in portion sizes throughout the menu you'll also find a variety of pricing.

Thanks for the question!

Garth Atchison 4 years, 5 months ago

If you want large portions and low cost go to a chain restaurant--no one can stay in business giving food away for free. Support good food and good local businesses.

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 5 months ago

As if there aren't enough places to drink in Lawrence...

flloyd 4 years, 5 months ago

Not yet. Also, read the article as they serve food, too.

MerchantsOnMass 4 years, 5 months ago

Thanks, jane_doe!

The enthusiasm is awesome. You can start your valiant volunteer efforts by visiting us this Friday at the Phoenix Gallery to sample two items off the menu. :)

See you there!

jesse499 4 years, 5 months ago

Oh good another reason not to go downtown.

MarcoPogo 4 years, 5 months ago

A restaurant changing its name and menu gives you a reason to not go downtown? What other criteria do you work with?

flloyd 4 years, 5 months ago

jesse...stay on the west side of town, please.

naturalist 4 years, 5 months ago

I sure hope that beautiful bar hasn't been taken out.

MerchantsOnMass 4 years, 5 months ago

Hi, naturalist,

Nope – the bar stays! What better way to feature 30 delicious beers on tap than behind that awesome bar? :)

Aiko 4 years, 5 months ago

I have been a fan of Tellers since 1998 but look forwarding to frequenting the new Merchants. See you there MerchantsOnMass.........

irvan moore 4 years, 5 months ago

it takes courage and confidence to open a new business, congratulations on having both, good luck

jack22 4 years, 5 months ago

I'm eager to give this new place a try. If they increase the bar area, have good food, and a ton of TV's to watch KU basketball, I'll probably be a frequent customer. I'm kind of surprised with the choice of name. Pub and Plate? A simple name like Merchants probably would have been enough, why add plate to the name? Was Merchant's pub, tables, chairs, and silverware already taken?

texburgh 4 years, 5 months ago

PLEASE! Do not do "tons of TV's." Put one in the bar area if you must - like Free State Brewery or Marisco's - but can't we go somewhere to eat WITHOUT a ton of TV's? If what you want is to watch sports on a ton of TV's, there's Henry T's where you can get beer and great burgers or tacos or wings and watch all the sports - KU and otherwise - you want.

Bob Forer 4 years, 5 months ago

Would love to see some authentic New York Delicatessen fare, e.g. Corned Beef, Roast Beef, Pastrami, potato salad, cole slaw, dill pickles, etc on the lunch menu. Have lived in Lawrence for over forty years, and the deli food here is drek--nothing at all like the great Deli food available in NYC.

Bob Forer 4 years, 5 months ago

Apparently you have never been to New YOrk, Larry.

Kendall Simmons 4 years, 5 months ago

The corned beef and the pastrami at Katz' Deli and 2nd Ave Deli (on, I believe, 33rd St.) are MUCH better than Carnegie or Stage! And less expensive, too. You ought to check them out on your next trip.

Kay Traver 4 years, 5 months ago

Hopefully the location will keep it popular. Best of luck to you Phil and TK! I look forward to checking it out. Missing it closed now.

waitjustaminute 4 years, 5 months ago

Would love to see a gluten free offering too. I have a relative who has the allergy and hates to go out to eat due to the risk.

MerchantsOnMass 4 years, 5 months ago

Hi, waitjustaminute,

We do plan to have gluten-free offerings and we welcome other comments and suggestions regarding special dietary preferences. Thanks for the input!

Irenaku 4 years, 5 months ago

Nooo! Sheesh. It's like the Milton's-Loopys-Milton's thing all over again. "Tellers" says classy and chic. Any name with the word "Pub" in it just sounds tired and unoriginal. Why do people insist on fixing what isn't broken??

pagan_idolator 4 years, 5 months ago

I know most are excited by the idea of 30 beers on tap but I am excited about the craft cocktails - think drinks made with fresh juice instead of powdered drink mixes. I think its a good concept. This will be a place for a few drinks instead of a few drunks. If they are doing a real gastropub you can expect freshly prepared food (not frozen items) and really good cocktails. Yeah it will cost more than a chain restaurant or your typical downtown bar.

KU79 4 years, 5 months ago

Hopefully they'll honor my Teller's gift certificate. If they do, I'll give it a shot and probably be a regular customer. If they don't, I doubt I ever walk through the door.

msezdsit 4 years, 5 months ago

Thats a great big leap there larry. I guess you are the only one who knows that ku79 represents and or is equal to Lawrence.

KU79 4 years, 5 months ago

I'd just hate to get stuck with a worthless $100 gift certificate. Didn't mean it as a threat.

flloyd 4 years, 5 months ago

KU79...your comment makes no sense whatsoever. Why on earth should they honor a gift certificate from the previous business? Maybe it's best you don't walk through the door. This sounds like a fun restaurant and no sense in you entering and spoiling it with such a negative attitude. Perhaps you've been reading too much about our football team and the upcoming season :-)

msezdsit 4 years, 5 months ago

Because they were the previous business. I think KU79 has a perfectly legitimate position. Now, the previous owners were famous for owing a lot of people money and most surely wouldn't have honored the certificate if they had a way out.

pizzapete 4 years, 5 months ago

KU79, that's a bummer that you have an old gift certificate. That's the problem with those things, they expire and sometimes the businesses that issues them close.
If you opened a new business would you honor the gift certificates of the business that previously occupied the space where you were going to locate? Seriously, that's really asking a lot, don't you think? I'd give these guys a clean slate and then decide if you're going to be a regular customer. Heck, I'd even give them a couple months to settle in and work out the kinks before I decide to give them the thumbs up or no. Anyway, I'm real excited to try it out, it sounds like it could be a good fit for our downtown.

juma 4 years, 5 months ago

30 beers on tap!!!???? I am always amused when the 'new' pub owners think that having all the beers in the world on tap is a good idea. Try keeping them fresh and in-date; won't happen. In a year they will be down to half and maybe less later. They will also think they should serve their direct competitors beer; Free State. Tellers sold FS beer but then Tellers was not a direct competitor to FS. Now they will be. Good luck but I will miss Tellers and do not look forward to another 'beer pub/drinking hole' on Mass.

pizzapete 4 years, 5 months ago

As long as they clear the lines by pouring out half a pint before serving a seldom ordered beer it probably won't be much of an issue. Some bars, especially busy ones, don't have a problem keeping the beer fresh. While we're talking about drinking, it would be cool if they had a good wine selection, too.

msezdsit 4 years, 5 months ago

What if they station a walk in cooler behind or below the taps and place the kegs right with the tap. The lines would be relatively short and could be changed out and replace regularly and resolve a lot of the stale line problems these kind of places often have. They claim the bar is not changing so I doubt this type of arrangement will be possible.

brink75 4 years, 5 months ago

A "new concept " it is not, but a change of scenery for Lawrence. There are many places like this in KC, giving good options in drink and food. Of course parking downtown can be a hassle. Not sure exactly why a lot of folks are rushing to defend Freestate. Freestate is a brewery, not a gastropub, the food is OK, and on occasion the beer selection is decent. Last time I checked they weren't in any jeopardy of closing the doors.

brink75 4 years, 5 months ago

Another Freestate point, one would think you'd want to be one of those 30 taps. I know I would as a brewery, some breweries have guest taps from time to time. Wait and see what beers are there, if Freestate doesn't want to be poured there that's a odd elitist decision.

msezdsit 4 years, 5 months ago

This is a well warn concept but maybe it will work. Tellers always tried to pretend they were a high end high star restaurant and they never were. Pachamama's makes a major effort to be what tellers always pretended to be. I would take 715 over tellers any day. A change, any change, should be an improvement. Interestingly enough, their is a family tree between pacha,715, and tellers.

juma 4 years, 5 months ago

Beer is NOT wine or spirits. It must be kept under ideal temperature conditions and will go 'off taste' over a short time. Pete says clear the lines; I hope that Pete is not in the alcohol/bar business because he would lose it with that lack of knowledge. The beer goes off in the keg. Many of the so-called craft beers are distributed by wine&spirits people who do not keep the beer cold and could care less. Those who drink this do so for show only. Keep the beers to a manageable list and serve good taste.

pizzapete 4 years, 5 months ago

Cleaning and clearing the lines does help. I understand beer goes bad over time. I have a keg out in my garage. I can drink it myself before the beer goes "off taste" in about 30 days. I don't think a popular restaurant and bar having a big selection and serving tons of beer is going to have issues keeping the beer fresh. Drinking beer for show? Now that's funny, who would do that?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 5 months ago

Want the food to be real good with a few vegetarian choices....

Perhaps some yumo guacamole...

I think 30 taps is too many and would prefer a few good choices from Free State, New Belgium and Boulevard.

Of course best wishes on this endeavor.

redweathered 4 years, 5 months ago

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