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Duo has plan to convert Teller's into gastropub with heavy emphasis on craft beers; Papa Murphy's opens with special event for Boys and Girls Club today


In Lawrence, beer is art. If you don’t believe me, drive through certain neighborhoods and behold the beer-bottle pyramids erected on many a front porch.

Well, it looks like Lawrence beer lovers may soon have another way to express their love for the beverage: a gastropub.

A deal is in the works to convert the longtime, downtown, upscale restaurant Teller’s into a gastropub that focuses on Midwest food and an extensive list of libations, led by a large lineup of craft beers.

The idea for the new restaurant comes from T.K. Peterson, the former executive chef of The Oread, and Philip Wilson, the operating manager of Teller’s.

Peterson left his position at The Oread last week, and if all goes as planned, he’ll join Wilson at Teller’s next month.

“It is a concept that I’m passionate about,” Peterson told me. “We feel like Lawrence needs a new restaurant concept like this, but really why it comes down to this is the type of food I like to cook.”

What type of food will that be? I don’t know. My mind was still on the beer. (What can I say? I’m a dedicated patron of the arts.) Peterson said the plan is for the restaurant to work with the usual brewers and develop relationships with many small-batch breweries, and perhaps even have some special batch brews created just for the restaurant.

Notice that I have used the word “plan” quite a bit here. Some details are still being worked out on this deal, but Peterson and Wilson agreed to share a few details with me because the rumor mill had started to crank up about the future of Teller’s and whether it was set to close.

As it is currently envisioned, Teller’s, 746 Massachusetts St., is scheduled to close temporarily for a major renovation. Wilson said the closing likely would take place around July 1 and the business would reopen in its new form before the students arrive in late August.

As for whether the new restaurant will keep the Teller’s name, Peterson said that hadn’t been decided. “We don’t know on that yet, but it is hard to ignore the kind of name recognition Teller’s has, not only locally but really with alumni across the country.”

The project will be a bit of a homecoming for Peterson. He worked at Teller’s while attending the Culinary Institute at Johnson County. In total, Peterson has about 12 years on the Lawrence food scene, including stints at the former upscale French restaurant Bleu Jacket at The Eldridge and for the last 17 months as the executive chef at The Oread.

It sounds like this project will be one to watch in the coming months. I’ll update you as a I get more information.


On another restaurant note, those of you who want some pizza and don’t want to get out of the car to get it are in luck. As we previously reported, Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza is one of the tenants opening in the new retail building at 650 Congressional Drive, which is just west of the Famous Dave’s BBQ location at Sixth and Wakarusa.

Well, Papa Murphy’s is now open at the location. (Wireless Zone, a Verizon Wireless phone dealer, is also open at that site. Other tenants for the location will include Prime Martial Arts and Meritrust Credit Union.) But back to pizza. Papa Murphy’s is hosting a special event today, where 20 percent of all sales made at the shop will go to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence.

As for the part about having the pizza placed right in your car, the location has a drive-through, which is a new concept for Papa Murphy’s in Lawrence. But hopefully you realize the “Take ‘N’ Bake” in Papa Murphy’s name means you have to cook the pizza yourself.

I don’t know about your vehicle, but my old F-150 doesn’t have an oven (or a working cassette player or a rear view mirror or brakes), so you may still have to get out of your vehicle to enjoy the pizza.

Or maybe not. I’ll ponder on it a bit. It is a beautiful May day. Perhaps I’ll do some pondering with a piece of pizza and a healthy dose of art, if you know what I mean.


Nonsense 5 years, 1 month ago

Well, scratch off another restaurant to a failed change of vision. I predict the death of Tellers, just like the death of Milton's, Vermont St. BBQ, and many others. Why do owners insist on changing things when they work. How many succesful estasblishments have we seen go down the drain becuase someone is bored with the status qou. My restauRANT is over now.

orbiter 5 years, 1 month ago

Wow, Nonsense, you must be a joy to be around. Onward on your straight line towards the cold grave!

Jen Catloth 5 years, 1 month ago

Tellers has gone down hill quickly over the last few years. I'm looking forward to the change.

Phoghorn 5 years, 1 month ago

Tellers was good at one time? I ate there once (mid 2000sIIRC) and it was pretty crappy.

Pepe 5 years, 1 month ago

I agree with this. Lawrence is full of very good restaurants but Teller's is not one of them. Probably the most overrated restaurant in town, IMO.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

Don't we already have a gastropub called "Free State Brewery?"

DanR 5 years, 1 month ago

The good stuff is the whatever is on the daily special. I thought everyone local knew that.

Asparagus cakes surely are on the horizon...

gccs14r 5 years, 1 month ago

I've learned that it's best to read the specials online before going, then hope they're not out of the one you want when you get there. If I have to get a regular menu item I'm not upset, but I hope I really enjoy my beer.

Steve Hillyer 5 years, 1 month ago

Where did the term "gastropub" come from? Doesn't sound like it is that interesting or different to me, now if they were going to brew their own beer that would interest me but just another restaurant that will have a lot of beer on tap (Old Chicago, Barleys), not that excited.

matthew2600 5 years, 1 month ago

The term gastropub, a portmanteau of gastronomy and pub, originated in the United Kingdom in the late 20th century. I like them if they are done well. I like Free State but Schlafly in St Louis is even better imho.

parrothead8 5 years, 1 month ago

What does portmanteau mean? Oh, never mind...I'll just look it up on Wikipedia.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 1 month ago

I thought it was a suitcase, but according to the Urban Dictionary, a portmanteau is "a cliche and uncreative technique to form new words - almost anyone who can speak a language can fabricate words by butchering two perfectly good words and using cheap glue to form one ugly word."

jack22 5 years, 1 month ago

The building that houses Tellers is such a great venue for a restaurant. I hope the new concept is a success and I'm eager to give it a try. It would be really nice if they had a decent wine selection to compliment the food and beer, hint, hint.

Larrytown 5 years, 1 month ago

Agreed...probably the best restaurant building in all of Lawrence. Getting a little outdated though....needs a little bit of a fresh look (i.e. painting, lighting, etc..). The potential for a huge cash cow is there. Just need to execute.

gatekeeper 5 years, 1 month ago

Went to Teller's twice and felt like I got average food for outrageous prices. The 2nd time, we ordered a bottle of red wine and when we asked for them to put in in a decanter to breath, they had no idea what we were talking about and poured it into a pitcher. We had taken my snobbish, wine enthusiast father-in-law from California for dinner and he had to explain to them why you let red wine breath. You would think the staff at a supposedly upscale, mainly Italian restaurant would have a clue about serving red wine. That was eight years ago and we've never been back. My father in law always thought KS was lame and uncivilized and he really thought that after visiting there.

Basil Leaf is so much better and looking forward to them moving into their new location.

Larrytown 5 years, 1 month ago

Asking a restaurant for a decanter? Hmmm....

gatekeeper 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes, when you have a party of 5 splitting a bottle of good wine, you want it served in a decanter, allowing it to breath for a while before drinking.

Larrytown 5 years, 1 month ago

For a while...like perhaps an hour (for it to work properly). Decanting is pretty much nonexistent in a restaurant setting...where the vast, vast majority of people don't know their exact wine bottle until seconds before they order and they certainly aren't going to wait around for an hour for the aromas to kick in.

Hence...the college waiter/waitress lack of knowledge of a decanter. A more experienced waiter/waitress (who knows what the purpose of the decanter) might have asked your father-in-law if you were going to wait an hour to drink it. He probably would have responded "Huh?"

Ohhhh....a pitcher is more than a suitable receptacle in the decanting process.

gatekeeper 5 years, 1 month ago

My father-in-law is an expert in wine and has a collection many would die for. A good, aged red wine is fine to drink after 15-20 minutes. A cheap, high tannin wine requires a good hour to breath. The shape of a decanter can affect the taste of the wine and the speed that it aerates.

You know very little about wine. The staff at a restaurant that serves good wine should be educated on the types of wine they have and how to serve it. And when the family goes out to eat and drink, we are there for a while.

Larrytown 5 years, 1 month ago

15-20 minutes? As I've already stated (also consistent with articles available on the internet)....a decanter adds little value in this short window.

gccs14r 5 years, 1 month ago

If you're going to bloviate about wine handling, please learn the difference between breath and breathe.

riverdrifter 5 years, 1 month ago

Agreed, but have to say that keyboard smack doesn't cut it.

kernal 5 years, 1 month ago

Wine decanting in a beer pitcher? Now that's innovation. Hahaha!

Richard Andrade 5 years, 1 month ago

Can't imagine what your father-in-law would say about eating Italian in a gas station.

Meatwad 5 years, 1 month ago

Tellers food never disappointed. I loved it! But the prices were so sky high I only went about once per year. I'm eager to see the change. I hope they have some healthy options too.

Chris Jeter 5 years, 1 month ago

food stinks, bar makes good cocktails though.

repaste 5 years, 1 month ago

Seems to me the first builder had a hard time getting paid for his work. I hope the new contractor has better luck. My only time at dinner there was marked by observing the line cook overheat his pan, catch the oil on fire, then putting his face in the pan and blowing hard repeatedly to extinguish the flames.

Currant 5 years, 1 month ago

Wonder if they'll serve gastropods...

Lori Nation 5 years, 1 month ago

There needs to be a push to bring more to the SE side of town. Stop building on the West side.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

"Sorry folks but the Red Beans & Rice and Fish & Chips"

And that's all they have on the menu, right?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Tellers interior design is absolutely cool to fascinating. I would spend no money redesigning the interior. Nice bar...

Keep some fine italian and bring on whatever some midwestern fare might be....

Do some fabulous guacamole while the menu is being altered.

Wait service on the bar side could be improved cuz some folks prefer that side while munching,dining and sipping. Pay attention to all your customers no matter what.

Not that many eating establishments in Lawrence can command high dollar menu's so it may be time to adjust accordingly.

hipgrrrrl 5 years, 1 month ago

Everything about Tellers got better when the old manager came on. Then, everything got truly bad again when he left to open 715. Their much acclaimed new chef - who has maybe left at this point - couldn't cook his way out of a paper bag...they had big braggin' on him going on in their brochure and online talking about all the celebrities he had cooked for and after eating there once he was ensconced, I was firmly of the opinion maybe he had done some prep work in those situations - perhaps he had diced up carrots for the mirepoix - but surely nothing else. The current manager comes across as a failed frat boy and doesn't like handling any issues, the service has disintegrated - although there are a few good ones and I admit a weakness for the mustachioed waiter - and the bathrooms are now usually dirty. Their cocktails are overwrought and far too heavy handed, the quality of the food is highly questionable (there is never any reason to serve yellowed kale, people). Teller's food resembles bad hotel food - and taking on a chef from The Oread to change things is quite laughable since The Oread happily serves bad hotel food. I actually really hate eating there. Unfortunately, my husband does not share my distaste...

MarcoPogo 5 years, 1 month ago

You should try the High Noon Saloon in Leavenworth.

hipgrrrrl 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't believe one needs to have experience running a restaurant to know that a restaurant serves sub-standard food. In fact, plenty of people who run restaurants serve sub-standard food.

Buying local is great. Eating out local is great. Eating local while eating out is even better. You know what's even better than that? Eating well while eating local, locally. Teller's does not provide that experience.

It's not good. That's the point of my post. As a pretty heavy contributor to the local restaurant economy, my gripe is not posted as an attempt to force the closure of Tellers (as if that were possible). It is simply a gripe. They serve cruddy food. If my opinion matters that much, maybe they will start serving better food. At the least, maybe they will get some of the staff that spends so much time standing around chatting with the manager busy in the bathrooms for a good cleaning.

oldbaldguy 5 years, 1 month ago

time does not remain the same. too expensive for what you got. have not been back for 4 years.

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