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Bum Steer BBQ opens at 19th and Haskell; thrift store opens in East Lawrence

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Move over turkey. It is time to grab our trusty forks, knives, bibs and wet wipes to tackle another animal. Plus, this one has the bonus of being familiar to longtime Lawrence residents. I'm talking about a Bum Steer.

That's right, a restaurant with the name Bum Steer BBQ Cafe is opening up in Lawrence about 20 years after it last shut down here. Chris Lemmon, who owned Bum Steer BBQ on Iowa Street from about 1980 to 1992, has opened a new version of the restaurant in the shopping center at 19th and Haskell.

And hold onto your elastic waistband, but plans are in the works for him to bring back the concept of a barbecue buffet as well.

Bum Steer currently is operating in the space that used to house the Haskell Diner and a few other diners that have come and gone in the past few years. But by early next year, Lemmon plans to expand into the space that is being vacated by longtime tenant Miracle Video. As we've previously reported, Miracle Video is going out of business. The signs on the store say the business will shut down for good at the end of this month.

When it does, Bum Steer will expand into the space, and it will become a bit like it was in the old days. Lemmon said he'll have a buffet set up each day that will have a heavy emphasis on barbecue and smoked meats, but also will feature traditional "country food" items as well. So, perhaps soon I'll finally have my chance to live my reoccurring dream of filling a kiddie-size pool with mashed potatoes and gravy. But take notice, Lemmon isn't planning on operating the buffet as a traditional all-you-can-eat affair. Instead, he's planning to charge by the pound — one price for meats and another price for side items.

Right now the restaurant is opening in a traditional diner style, with a menu that includes smoked brisket, pork, turkey and other barbecue items, plus hamburgers, pork tenderloins and other diner fare. Plus, the diner is serving a breakfast menu that includes bacon, sausage, eggs, cinnamon rolls, biscuits and gravy, French toast and other traditional items.

"I just like to call it a country breakfast," Lemmon said. "I don't want to get too fancy with it."

Lemmon said he plans to serve breakfast under the new format as well, although he won't be offering a breakfast buffet. (My pharmacist is sad. She could already see the vacation home she was going to buy after the prescription for my cholesterol medicine quadrupled.)

The restaurant currently is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. No word yet on whether it will have later hours once the buffet opens.

For about the last 20 years, Lemmon has been operating a catering business and serving concessions at KU Athletic events. Lemmon said he decided to get back in the restaurant business now that he no longer is serving KU concessions. As we previously reported, Lemmon had opened a catering kitchen in the Haskell shopping center several months ago, but decided to expand into a full service restaurant when space became available in the center.

"I'm excited," Lemmon said. "It has my blood pumping again."

Mine too, or maybe that is just barbecue sauce going through my veins.

•••

Talk about your synergy: A good barbecue buffet always leaves me in search of a comfy couch. Now, there is a new business right next door to Bum Steer where I can find a couch and several other items at bargain prices.

A new thrift store has opened in the shopping center at 19th and Haskell. The Something for Everyone Thrift Store opened earlier this month. Bobby Riley, who owns the store with his wife, Margaret, said the store plans to carry everything from DVDs and knickknacks to appliances and furniture. In addition to those items the store also is stocked with toys, cookware, electronics and several other smaller items.

Riley spent years in the auction business, and also has managed other thrift stores in the area. He said he gets most of his items from auctions or by purchasing pallets of merchandise from wholesalers, which means the store carries a mix of new and used items.

Unlike some other thrift stores in the area, this one isn't connected to a nonprofit organization. It is being run as a for-profit enterprise. But Riley said there will be a nonprofit component to the business. The store will accept donated items from the public. When those items are sold, 15 percent of the sale price will be donated to a local nonprofit. Riley said the store will hold a contest each month allowing customers to vote on which nonprofit should be the beneficiary.

Riley said business has been good so far, and he said he thinks a thrift shop near the blue collar neighborhoods of eastern Lawrence makes a lot of sense.

"We want to deliver affordable items to middle class and low-income families," Riley said. "We like helping people. We really love that side of the business."

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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