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Mexican restaurant Tapas closes as it loses lease on downtown building; Mexquisito expands into Eudora


The Trail of Margaritas — you may know it is as Massachusetts Street — now has one less waypoint.

Tapas, 724 Massachusetts St., has closed. Its last day in business was Saturday, general manager Dorothy Hopkins told me.

But fret not, all you folks who are worried about becoming dehydrated as you trek through downtown. Hopkins told me the restaurant is working hard to reopen in another location.

Hopkins said business was good at the restaurant, which had been open a little more than a year. But she said its building recently sold. Actually, I think it is under contract to be sold. Regardless, the new owners have other plans, and Tapas lost its lease.

Hopkins said the restaurant is in early discussions for another spot on Massachusetts Street, but it also is considering the Wakarusa Street corridor.

“I know some other restaurants are struggling in downtown, but our business has been excellent,” Hopkins said. “That is what is really sad about having to close.”

The potential move — which Hopkins said will take at least a month — has left the restaurant’s 26 employees in limbo.

As for what may be on tap for Tapas’ old building, I’ve heard another restaurant is the leading contender. I have a call into a person who I believe will be part of the new ownership group. If I hear back, I’ll let you know.


Perhaps there is a rule or something that when one Mexican restaurant goes out of business, another must open.

The folks who have Mexquisito, 712 Massachusetts St., have expanded into Eudora. The new restaurant opened on Friday, occupying a spot near 10th and Locust streets — kind of catty-corner from the Casey’s — in a spot formerly occupied by . . . a Mexican restaurant.

I had occasion to check it out this weekend, and it brings some of the same — what I would call, slightly upscale — Mexican dishes that it serves at Mexquisito in downtown. You’ll have to decide whether my description is accurate. All I know is that when you order salsa, you get both the red and the green type, which provides the answer to a riddle: What do you get when you combine red and green? Another margarita.


KSChick1 5 years, 2 months ago

Tapas has really good food and good service. Haven't had a bad meal in there yet. Sorry to see it close, especially if it's going to be out on Wakarusa. Guarantee I won't be going there since it's completely across town from my house. Mexquisito is empty at the best of times. And they're expanding? Really? It has mostly bad reviews online and a walk past the restaurant at dinner time shows empty booths. Wow. Downtown Lawrence surprises me once again.

Hooligan_016 5 years, 2 months ago

The news about Mexquisito has surprised me as well. Every time I walk by it seems to be empty.

butrflkisz 5 years, 2 months ago

We ate at Mexquisito yesterday in Eudora and it was awful we will not be going back

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

Most restaurants open with a minimum of a 5 year lease with a 5 year option. New building owners inherit the existing lease. If Tapas opened with just a year on it's lease, that would be unusual, to say the least. I'm guessing there's more to the story.

smileydog 5 years, 2 months ago

No landlord in their right mind would sign a 1 year lease unless it is for an apartment.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

Opening a restaurant takes a significant initial investment. If you're unsuccessful, as you say, you're out of luck. But if you are successful in the first year, that's not enough time to recoup your investment, so you've placed yourself at the mercy of the landlord. Or in this case, at the mercy of a new building owner who has other plans for the building. I'd rather be optimistic, sign the lease which gives me ample time to recoup my investment and make some money on top of that.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

Restaurant owners know the odds. Believe me, we know the odds. Therefore, it has to be with optimism you enter the business and with optimism you sign the lease. Again, it takes more than one year to recoup your initial investment. If that's all you're giving yourself, then you've put yourself at the mercy of the landlord. This is a prime example, if the story is to be believed as written. The business was successful, but I doubt anyone made money since there wasn't sufficient time to recoup the initial investment.

I stand by my initial skepticism, believing there's more to the story than what we've been told here.

vuduchyld 5 years, 2 months ago

Smart for the business, maybe, but EXTREMELY unusual because, well, it's not great for the landlord.

You may think that approach would make sense, but it is very, very, very, very uncommon.

Tom Thomson 5 years, 2 months ago

Sad to see Tapas close, though once Dorothy took over, it was not the same place. Service was horrible, the food was changed, and prices went up. We used to go to Tapas at least three times a month, and once Dorothy took over, and Gustavo (the previous manager) 'left', the place went downhill.

Even if they re-open, I am not likely to go back.

mom_of_three 5 years, 2 months ago

we visited tapas a few times and it was better many months ago than recently.
We have also visited Mexquisito downtown and thought the food was better. You can't beat homemade chips. The chicken tacos are very good, as are the specials.

ksjayhawk74 5 years, 2 months ago

Oh no. Now where will I be able to get Mexican food in Downtown Lawrence?

Ginny Hedges 5 years, 2 months ago

Don't go to Fuzzy's Tacos. Tried it today and was really disappointed. :(

Mike Hoffmann 5 years, 2 months ago

Fuzzy's tacos are great. Judging by the crowds when I go there, I'd say a lot of other people agree.

crimsonlaugh 5 years, 2 months ago

It's "great" for a cheap meal (ie college students which is why it does well in a college town). The food isn't bad, but if you want great food, there are better options for Mexican in this town.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 2 months ago

La Familia across from old Borders/temp library

polo66606 5 years, 2 months ago

Went to Mexquisito once, and it was terrible. Where are my free chips and salsa?

I've frequented Tapas many times, and Gus was a great manager. Went back when i came back to Kansas in December, and the staff definitely declined. Now it makes sense.

If all else fails, Cilieto Lindo.

Mark Newton 5 years, 2 months ago

Glad to see Mexquisito in Eudora. I hope they do well. I think it helps to have an open mind. When I first tried Tortas Jaliscos I did not like what I had. Tried it again and ordered something else and it was pretty good. After trying a few things I finally found something I really, really liked in the tortas ahogada. Delicious. Now Tortas is my favorite Lawrence eatery by far.

Give Mexquisito a fair chance and I think you will find something you really like.

DanR 5 years, 2 months ago

Agree. Mexquisito on Mass is probably the tastiest Mex in town in a long time. Decent beer specials too, if that helps offset having to pay a couple bucks for chips. I heap that praise even though I'm personally not wild about Tortas Jalisco (which may be the most authentic mexican place in Lawrence, if that's your thing.) I hope they can succeed in Eudora with the Mexquisito model.

Tapas, on the other hand, was/is just another in a long line of average to horrible Mexican restaurants in Lawrence.

crimsonlaugh 5 years, 2 months ago

I'd rather pay for awesome, fresh chips than eat ones that have been sitting in a bag for weeks ;) Mexquisito is amazing.

Mike Hatch 5 years, 2 months ago

With the Honeybees? The thought of Mrs. Howell in that wig still kind of freaks me out.

Brad Greenwood 5 years, 2 months ago

If expecting free chips and salsa means I'm cheap, then I don't wanna be rich!

John_Tesh 5 years, 2 months ago

Just because Tapa's lost their lease doesn't mean you have to compare it to Mexquisito! They are way different style of mexican and Latin foods! You should try Mequisito's sister resturaunt on 6th street called Tortas Jalisco for more of traditional family dishes! Mexquisito is true authentic food ! I will gladly pay for chips and salsa there!

DanR 5 years, 2 months ago

Chillax, John_Tesh. They're about 10 doors apart, opened at roughly the same time, was confusing to patrons as to which was which, and the best restaurant of the two is staying open. Tapas was the antithesis of what "tapas" is expected to be as cuisine. I sure wouldn't call it Latin. Did you even eat there? It was not a small plate/bocas style place...

pace 5 years, 2 months ago

since I love Tapas, the little morsels, gong there and being told one could not order a tapa, but one would be included with an order of a drink,,chef's choice, not a soda. I walked out and never cared to go again.

Jimmy 5 years, 2 months ago

Mexquisito is great! Yeah it's pricier than El Mez or Cielito, but it also offers higher quality dishes that aren't found on regular Tex-Mex menus.

eltudobem 5 years, 2 months ago

PLEASE TAPAS! just know that there really isn't a single place in this whole town that serves REAL Mexican food. I'm talking tacos de lengua, al pastor, tortas ahogadas ect. It would be so amazing to have a truly authentic Mexican restaurant like you find in KC KS (Bonito Michoacan). By all means though come to Walkarusa, i'm closer to that location and it's a quieter place to hang, which is nice for a change (not that downtown is bad, just over saturated with mediocre food joints) I will mention though, that the Miller Mart on Walkarusa and Clinton does have a taqueria inside it called Mex-I-Kans, and it is hardly even noticeable (terrible marketing, one paper sign) but It does have tacos de lengua and pastor ect, the prices are very cheap, yet I've got to admit the owner needs to get with it or it will be out of business in no time. sighhh. Check out the picture of this REAL Mexican food stand that one can find in the thousands in Mexican cities, I'm pointing out that these carts serve better mexican food than any Mexican restaurant in this town, what would be so hard to replicate this in a sit down/take out fashion, in fact I think it might even be easier and more profitable.

Tomato 5 years, 2 months ago

I have seen two out of three of the dishes you listed on Tortas Jalisco's monthly special menu and probably the third - but my memory isn't serving me well.

We thought they were delicious, but I don't regularly eat at food carts in Mexico, so I can't compare.

rachelind 5 years, 2 months ago

Stop crying and go to El Potro Mexican Cafe on 31st Street (where Backyard Burgers used to be.) First off, free queso AND salsa to dip chips in! No other Mexican joint in Lawrence is that awesome. The food was incredible, inexpensive, and I had plenty for leftovers. Our server was very polite and attentive. I will DEFINITELY be coming back to El Potro. In addition, they offer a service where you can call in carry-out and pick it up at the drive thru window. Too cool!

Tony Kisner 5 years, 2 months ago

Red lobster does a fantastic street fish taco.

msezdsit 5 years, 2 months ago

Cielito Lindo: Good food, reasonable prices, good service, nice people. That is a pretty good resume.

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