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KU broadcaster David Lawrence to open West Lawrence sports restaurant and bar; update on Limestone pizza restaurant downtown
Due to a host of oddities that no one ever could have predicted, I never did make it into uniform for the Kansas Jayhawks football team, which means KU broadcaster David Lawrence never did get to use his colorful phrases to describe my talents. But perhaps that soon will change. I'm 80 percent certain I'm not going to plow through a Big 12 defensive line anytime soon, but I can still plow through a double bacon cheeseburger and fries, and perhaps Lawrence will be there to see it. Lawrence and a partner are in the process of opening a new West Lawrence sports-themed restaurant and bar.
Lawrence and successful restaurateur Matt Llewellyn of 23rd Street Brewery are opening Legends at Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa Drive in West Lawrence. The business will be in the location that formerly housed Bambino's Italian restaurant. The look of the space, however, will be completely remade.
Lawrence — who was an all-conference performer for the Jayhawk football team in the early 1980s — has been part of the KU radio broadcasts since 1993 and has been the color commentator for football since 2006. He'll be in charge of creating the sports ambiance of the restaurant. The Legends name means the restaurant and bar will have photos and memorabilia from a host of local legends. Lawrence said that will include a lot of Jayhawk athletes, but also some high school performers who have reached that legendary status, including those days when Lawrence High football was the king of the state and the region. Lawrence said the restaurant also will look for some local people who are legends in fields other than athletics.
Also expect to see some live radio broadcasts from the restaurant. Lawrence hosts a variety of sports talk radio programs, and he said he is in the process of arranging for some of that type of work to occur at the new location.
As for the food and drink portion of the business, Llewellyn will be leading that side of the business. Lawrence said it is important to both he and Llewellyn that the business will be more than your typical sports bar.
"We feel like it is a great location, and we know it is a great neighborhood," Lawrence said. "We want to be a restaurant for the neighborhood to go to. That is right at the very top of our list."
Lawrence said in addition to the pizza, wings and burger baskets that are staples of sports bar menus, the restaurant also will serve some steaks, seafood and other higher-end fare.
Lawrence said he and Llewellyn have known each other for many years, in part because Lawrence has done several of his radio shows at 23rd Street Brewery.
"Matt and I have talked about doing this for quite some time," Lawrence said. "I'm at a stage in my life that if I'm going to do it, I need to do it now. Being able to do it with a pro like Matt was the key for me."
Remodeling work on the space is just getting under way, but Lawrence said he's holding out hope that the restaurant can be open sometime in June. The remodeling work includes creating a new area of the restaurant that will be called the Phog's Den, that will serve as a private viewing area for up to 65 people to watch a game or host an event.
Maybe that will be the spot where Lawrence can set up his radio booth and do some color commentary on my talents. Trust me, they will be colorful. Anybody who has seen my shirt after eating a bacon double cheeseburger can attest to that.
In other news and notes from around town:
• I've been getting questions about Limestone Pizza + Kitchen + Bar in downtown Lawrence. (Don't let the plus signs worry you. I don't think there are any math tests involved with a visit to the restaurant.) The restaurant at 814 Massachusetts opened over the weekend.
We reported on the plans for the restaurant back in January. But now we have more details about how the menu of the restaurant has come together. Rick Martin, longtime Lawrence chef and part owner of the establishment, sent me a menu recently.
As we reported, a Neopolitian style, thin crust, crispy pizza is a big part of the menu. The restaurant calls it "Neoprairie" pizza and serves it in a 12-inch size. And it looks like it intends to be creative with the toppings. The most traditional pizzas, it appears, are a sausage pizza, and a margherita pizza with local ground tomatoes, house-made mozzarella and basil oil. But there also will be pies like the Farmer, which has bacon, local eggs, spinach and gruyere. And there's also The Spud, which includes ingredients such as creme fraiche, bacon and rosemary.
Outside of pizza, the restaurant will have appetizers such as local chicken wings, calamari, egg and pita toast, and roasted roots such as radishes, turnips, carrots and onions. Also on the menu are sandwiches such as house-made pastrami, a local beef hamburger, pork rapini, and larger dishes such as ham and beans and fresh linguini and sauce.
Hours are 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays.
• As part of my duties yesterday, I visited what we call the "morgue" here at the J-W. It is our room where we keep old newspaper clippings, and old reference materials. I was digging through a 1977 Polk City Directory to confirm that indeed Buffalo Bob's restaurant — which announced it is closing on April 29 — is the oldest current restaurant in downtown. So just for fun, I thought I would pass along some of the other restaurants I saw on that list from 1977. It might bring back some good memories.
As far as far as restaurants that are still in business, there are a handful. They include: La Tropicana in North Lawrence; The Flamingo Club in North Lawrence; the Wagon Wheel Cafe in the Oread neighborhood; Taco Bell on 23rd Street, and the McDonald's on 23rd Street.
But particularly fun are some of the names of ones that have departed us. They include: the Campus Hideway on North Park Street in downtown; Cornucopia near 18th and Mass.; Drake's Snack Shop at Ninth and Mass.; Heavy Eddy's on W. 14th Street; J-B's Big Boy Family Restaurant on Iowa Street; Shorty's Cafe on Massachusetts Street; a whole host of Taco Grandes and a Taco Tico, and the Vista Drive In on Sixth Street. And of course there is one that I know many people dearly miss: Don's Steakhouse on East 23rd Street.
I know I do. There are times that I get this sharp pain in the left side of my chest and down my arm, and I know what that is. It is my body saying it misses the fried chicken and slabs of ribeye at Don's Steakhouse. Of course that is what it is. What else could it be?