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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?


Dan Klamet 4 years, 2 months ago

I tried Limestone on Thursday of last week. Good pizza, but the ambiance is a little...off. The place looks great, but the servers were a little odd, there are only a few types of pizza (4!) and you can't custom create a pizza. Also, they have the glass bottles of warm water on the table with tumbler sized glasses and no ice. What's up with that?

Sherry Warren 4 years, 2 months ago

I loved the ambiance. Our water was cold and replaced often. Beer was great! Pizzas were fantastic. And I thought the menu was set up to make your own pizza combination. We certainly added toppings to ours and no one squawked. One thing we noticed - the service was outstanding. Not overly friendly, attentive, and not a bunch of nervous nellies who didn't know their jobs. The whole place ran like they had been working together for years and liked it. Maybe they seemed odd because they were friendly and helpful ;) I think ours actually said "Thank you" to us. Odd indeed.

Ralph Gage 4 years, 2 months ago

Hmmm. The Legends location originally was opened as a sports bar, Tanners, I think, by Tom Hayes after he was let go as a KU football coach. That spot seems jinxed. Good luck to David Lawrence. Hayes, a good guy and solid coach, is on Bill Snyder's staff at K-State.

Bud Stagg 4 years, 2 months ago

Wow, this is like the 5th place to go into that location. Zig and Mac's was pretty good, why did they fail? It amazes me that people keep trying to make bad locations work. Don't know why it's a bad location, but I wouldn't gamble my money there.

Arnie Bunkers 4 years, 2 months ago

And its not you who IS gambling your money there. If the product is good, people will go there and they will be fine. Tanners was overpriced and had poor quality food. Zig n Mac's was also overpriced and tried to be a bit too fancy. Plus, the service was poor and employees seemed to be poorly managed. If these guys succeed in a moderately priced sports bar with quality food and good sevice, they will succeed. Trying to 'skimp' on portion size and service and they will fail, regardless of location.

Richard Andrade 4 years, 2 months ago

Agree with Bud. When you have what seems like a dozen eateries try and fail in a particular location, you start to look at the location. This strip mall has historically had a higher than normal vacancy rate, it seems, and that points to something as well. I wish them luck but I wouldn't start my business here.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 2 months ago

Many years, OK, I confess, a few decades ago, I worked for a restaurant manager here in town at a few different restaurants. I tended to follow her around to different restaurants for a few years, as she was an excellent manager, and we got along very well. She had worked at many restaurants, and at one point was the dietitian for the dormitories on the KU campus.

One tidbit that she passed on to me that she had learned in her decades of restaurant experience: It only takes one restaurant operating in a particular location to ruin that location, sometimes permanently. The reason is that people, by and large, don't remember the name of a restaurant, they remember its location.

So if there is a carload of people passing by a new restaurant in the location of one that was not so good in the past, all it takes is one person in the car to say: "I ate there once, and it was terrible." Then, the driver will keep on moving, looking for another.

About all that can be done about that is to prominently display a sign that reads: "Under New Management," but even that can do little to mitigate the damage. It's usually very long lasting, according to her. And, with many decades of restaurant management experience under her belt, I think she knew what she was talking about.

Jim Fisher 4 years, 2 months ago

Don't forget the now politically incorrect Sambo's. Pancakes & coffee after a night of 3.2 beer

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 2 months ago

The name 'Sambo's' originated from the names of the founders, that is, the first name of Sam Battistone, Sr. and the first part of the last name of Newell Bohnett. Hence, 'Sambo's' Later, meanings were read into the name, and were used in advertising.

'Sambo's' is not gone, there is still one location at 216 West Cabrillo Boulevard, Santa Barbara, California. But it is very unlikely to ever be a chain again.

Clipped from:

Over the years many myths and rumors abound about the "SAMBO'S" name - its origin seemingly subject to many ideas as to how the restaurant got its name.

The fact is - SAM (the Founder) was a real person and BO (his partner) was a real person.

Sam is Sam Battistone and Bo is Newell Bohnett, known affectionately to his friends, family and associates as "Bo".

Despite all the other stories you may have heard - this is really how SAMBO'S got its name.

'The Story of Little Black Sambo' by Helen Bannerman was an afterthought. The SAMBO'S RESTAURANT already was established before the children's story was discovered and used as part of a marketing promotion.

Bud Stagg 4 years, 2 months ago

Zig and Macs was probably overprice but that has a lot to do with location. They had good crowds most of the time until the very end. Food prices reflect a number of expenses, but rent expense is a killer in the food industry. I hope they negotiated well and succeed.

Arnie Bunkers 4 years, 2 months ago

I know the rent killed Tanners. ZnM most likely negotiated well, but apparently not well enough. Apparently a place like that cant just live for the weekends, but if the new place gets the cost structure right and the food/service right, they will be OK.

Mike Edson 4 years, 2 months ago

Sounds like 715's service model. That is not what I would have expected from a restaurant with pizza in their name.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

The 15th and Wakarusa strip mall has seen a lot of tenants come and go. Among them was a fine paint store.

I believe the liquor on the "east end" is doing well.

Another sports bar will be pulling customers from existing such operations in that area. Most every "bar" type establishment is a sports bar.

Cimmy Redmond 4 years, 2 months ago

The Korean place at Campus Hideaway reopened as O Cafe a while back.

I can't believe Bambino's stayed in business as long as they did. My husband and I got wicked food poisoning back in 2009, after the only time we ate there.

Richard Andrade 4 years, 2 months ago

Out of curiousity, I looked up Bambino's Yelp reviews recently. Man, I've never seen a restaurant so uniformly savaged in Yelp like Bambinos. 1.5 stars out of 5 over a large sample (21 reviews)! Multiple reports of sickness. I don't care where these guys re-open (they seemed to survived for awhile on Mass), I'd never go there after reading those horror stories.

Fred Mion 4 years, 2 months ago

I never got sick at Bambino's, but always felt the food was way below mediocre. Heck, even Olive Garden (bleck!) tasted better. The times ~after my first~ that I was there because it was the choice of friends. It was just really bland, boring, and unimaginative.

Scott Morgan 4 years, 1 month ago

My family is big on Italian dining. Mostly KC-OP now.

I ate at Bambinos maybe 10 times, 3 at the new location with the newer owners. Never had a problemo at the new place. Used to have a family saying about the old place, "half the time it's good."

Don's on the other hand is missed greatly. Even towards the end, liked the feeling of a local place. Enjoyed the history and having a real steak house in town too.

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