Lawrence restaurant Dempsey’s signs deal to open new location in Lincoln, Neb.

If you are a confused Kansas University football fan (and that trait sometimes goes with the territory), who still travels to Lincoln to see the ‘Hawks and the Huskers square off, all is not lost.

A taste of Lawrence soon will be opening up in Lincoln. Dempsey’s Burger Pub, 623 Vermont Street, is expanding into the Nebraska city.

Dempsey’s owner Steve Gaudureau recently told me the company has signed a lease to take over about a 4,500-square-foot restaurant space in downtown Lincoln. The restaurant will be about a block and a half from another taste of Lawrence, BisonWitches Bar & Deli, which is a spin-off of Gaudureau’s popular Quinton’s Bar & Deli in Lawrence.

Gaudureau has had Dempsey’s in Lawrence for about five years, but has added the gourmet burger side of the business within the past three years. Before that, Lawrence’s The Burger Stand got its start out of Dempsey’s, before the two establishments ended up parting ways and splitting off to create a burger rivalry in the city.
Gaudureau said Dempsey’s has found its stride, and now he wants to see how large it can become.

“Dempsey’s is my new passion,” Gaudureau said. “This is my future. I’m still selling Quinton’s franchises, but I’m done opening them up. The future is having a chain of Dempsey’s. I want to go where the market takes me.”

Gaudureau — who has grown the Quinton’s and BisonWitches franchise into a multi-state operation — believes upscale burgers are a food trend that has some staying power because a whole new generation of “foodies” is looking for an affordable way to eat gourmet.

What does a gourmet burger look like? Well, Dempsey’s has three burgers made from high-end Kobe beef, and the rest are made from local grinds, and may include ingredients such as Bordelaise sauce, arugula greens, aioli, Gruyere cheese and something called a pretzel bun. (I would think it would leak with all those holes in it, but I guess that’s why I’m not a gourmet chef.)

Gaudureau hopes to have the Lincoln restaurant open by mid-April.

He also has a few minor changes on tap for the Lawrence Dempsey’s location. He’s filed plans at Lawrence City Hall to add a new patio onto the north side of the building. It will replace a patio that currently is on the backside of the building.

“I’ve never really liked that patio,” Gaudureau said. “This one will give us a little less occupancy, but I think our usage will go way up because it will be much nicer.”

Look for that project sometime this spring.