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All-natural hamburger restaurant to go into former Chutney's space downtown; future of Lawrence RadioShacks uncertain

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You have heard of Wi-Fi. (I know I have. It takes a good part of my morning to get the RadioShack Tandy 1000 hooked up to it.) And perhaps you even have a few brain cells that survived the 1970s and still remember the phrase Hi-Fi. But now there is something called BurgerFi?

Indeed there is, and Lawrence hamburger lovers will get a chance to check it out by midspring. The Florida-based restaurant chain BurgerFi has plans to open at 918 Massachusetts St. in the space that formerly was occupied by Chutney's.

Franchise owners Josh and Michelle Kurzban believe Lawrence will take to the chain's philosophy of producing tasty hamburgers in an all-natural way.

"We figure that college students like eating hamburgers, and if they can eat them from a source that is natural, that is going to resonate well with them," Kurzban said.

The restaurant makes all of its hamburgers out of free-range, hormone-free, never frozen Angus beef. But the natural theme doesn't stop there. The restaurant carries a line of ice cream, concrete desserts that are made with natural sugar cane instead of high fructose corn syrup. Even the furniture gets in on the act. The plastic chairs are made from recycled Coke bottles.

As for the actual hamburgers, the menu indicates a variety. In addition to the standard hamburger and cheeseburger, there also is something called the Breakfast All Day Burger. It includes hickory bacon drizzled with maple syrup, a fried egg and hashbrowns. (I can think of nothing more natural than me sitting in front of the Tandy, playing a game of Turtle Racer and eating three or four of those hamburgers.)

Also on the menu: a brisket burger, made from 28-day, dry-aged ground brisket; five different styles of hot dogs, hand-cut fries that can be ordered regular, well-done or limp; tempura, beer-battered onion rings; and a host of craft beers and wines.

The restaurant also has signed a marketing deal with the Sporting KC soccer club, which means the restaurant plans to have some team events at the Lawrence location, and also at a Leawood location that is scheduled to open this spring.

BurgerFi, which takes its name from the founder's vision of the "burgerfication of the nation," has 36 restaurants open currently, but plans to have 75 by the end of 2014. The Leawood and Lawrence locations are the first for the company in this region.

It's entry into the market will continue a trend of restaurants that build their menu around a higher quality hamburger. There's Dempsey's and The Burger Stand, which were among the first to bring the idea to town. Outside of downtown, there's everything from Five Guys, Burgers by Biggs, Culver's, Freddy's, and probably several others that I'm just not thinking of at the moment.

But now I can look them up. I think the Tandy is finally connected. Of course, I don't have time now. I have to get the wheels put on the Tandy. I don't care what anybody says: This trend toward mobile is a real pain in the rear.

In other news and notes from around town:

• Perhaps you noticed that I mentioned something about RadioShack. Well, that company is producing news. The retailer announced yesterday that it will be closing up to 1,100 of its approximately 5,200 stores. RadioShack has several locations in Lawrence, but it is not known yet whether they are among the stores slated to close. The company hasn't yet released a list of the specific store closings. (I understand that. It takes my dot matrix a long time to print a list that long.) No, USA Today reports the company will have to have discussions with its landlords and lenders before it can finalize a list of store closings. So, I'll keep an ear open.

• Here's another reminder that we're hosting a chat with Lawrence City Commissioner Jeremy Farmer to discuss the latest proposal to create a rental licensing and inspection program in the city. The chat is set for 11 a.m. on Thursday at LJWorld.com. But you can submit questions now by clicking here.

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  • Comments

    Philip Davis 5 months, 2 weeks ago

    Hey Chad,

    Will Mr. Farmer's answers from the chat be posted afterward, in case we can't be here for the live chat?

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    5 months, 2 weeks ago

    Yes. There will be a transcript of the chat that will be online, and will be part of our archive of articles. Thanks, Chad

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    Steve Jacob 5 months, 2 weeks ago

    19% decline the Radio Shack same store sales in the 4th quarter. Ouch.

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    Ron Holzwarth 5 months, 2 weeks ago

    In the late 1980s, I worked as a clerk at the Radio Shack store in the Westridge Shopping Center at 6th and Kasold. It was a very interesting experience, I often laugh when I tell people about some of the things that happened while I worked there. To keep this short, I'll tell about only one thing here:

    Radio Shack was the only place I ever worked where the manager, my boss, had his drug dealer(s) show up to sell him his items, and he paid for them out of the register. Since he counted the till himself, I wasn't aware of what was going on - for a while. It was obvious that some very weird characters were showing up at the store for unexplainable reasons, though.

    Later, he started to swap the merchandise for his items. I noticed that the shelves were getting bare, and at least one item that I thought would never sell disappeared. And where were all the VCRs? We were just about out of stock!

    All of a sudden, the Radio Shack management in Fort Worth became aware that something was going on, padlocked the door, and did an inventory. But by then I had quit, because I was getting very nervous about this situation, I was worried about some of the characters that were showing up at the store, and I didn't think this would end well.

    Amazingly, my former boss was given only probation, and he cleaned up his act. Or, at least that's what he told me the one time I saw him on the street.

    But then, I was told that he robbed the pharmacy in the Dillon's on Massachusetts Street, and he used a hammer for a weapon. That's the only time I have ever heard of a hammer being used as a weapon in a robbery.

    After that, I never saw him again. And, I will refrain from naming him.

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