A Mexican restaurant on 23rd Street, more signs that Port Fonda coming to Lawrence, an Old Chicago rumor and other restaurant news
I have a batch of restaurant news, but I have to warn you it is a bit like chips and salsa for breakfast: It’s not really enough for a meal, but it is a good start nonetheless. Here’s a look:
• It is a proven fact that we all drive better with a burrito in our hand and warm cheese sauce in our lap. It looks like we may soon have another chance to practice such safe driving on 23rd Street. The former Pizza Hut building at 1606 W. 23rd St. is being converted into a drive-thru Mexican restaurant, according to a site plan filed at City Hall.
The site plan says the location will be a Panchos Restaurant. Finding information on the Web about a Panchos Mexican restaurant is a bit like finding a taquito in a box of taquitos. In other words, there are a lot of restaurants with that name (as evidenced when I ask Siri about it and her response simply was “You’ve got to be kidding me, numbskull.) But I would note that there is a regional chain called Pancho’s Mexican restaurant that appears to be expanding in the area. It has locations in Topeka, Olathe, Lenexa, Salina and parts of Kansas City. No word on whether that is the one, but if so, the chain advertises it is open 24 hours. I’ll do some checking and see what more I can find out about the company.
Regardless, it appears that a Mexican food brouhaha is brewing at the location. If you remember, the old Pizza Hut location is right next door to Border Bandido. Border Bandido, which also specializes in a form of quick-serve Mexican food, has been doing business at that location for a long time. It is one of the older restaurants in all of Lawrence. It will be interesting to see how two of them do side by side. Although it is worth noting that stretch of 23rd Street has never lacked for Mexican food. Now that Chipotle has opened just east of this site, there will be five Mexican restaurants within a two-tenths of a mile stretch on 23rd. Taco John’s and Taco Bell are the other two.
• It sure looks like Mexican food of a different type is coming to downtown Lawrence. I’ve been telling you for months now that the hip Westport Mexican restaurant Port Fonda is coming to Lawrence, and now it appears the restaurant is sort of confirming it. The restaurant sent out a tweet on Monday that said it was coming to Lawrence, or more specifically to LFK, which we all know means Lawrence Fabulous Kansas. (That is what it means, right?)
— port fonda (@portfonda) January 12, 2015
I’ve had multiple people tell me the site is going to be in the ground-floor space of the new Marriott hotel at Ninth and New Hampshire. I’ve got a call into the guys at Port Fonda to see if they have an official announcement yet. I’ll let you know when I hear more.
• Sometimes you’re not in the mood for Mexican food but rather pizza as thick as a copy of “War and Peace.” (“War and Peace” would be better with marinara sauce, by the way.) I certainly don’t have anything confirmed on this, but a reliable source has told me that a franchisee for Old Chicago Pizza is looking for a site in Lawrence. Old Chicago had a location in Lawrence for a long time near 23rd and Iowa streets before it was converted into the short-lived Saints Pub + Patio. I’m told Old Chicago has been looking in the northwest part of the city. We reported recently that a site plan had been filed for a pair of unidentified restaurants near the Wal-Mart at Sixth and Wakarusa. I have no inkling whether Old Chicago is one of those restaurants, but it is a restaurant chain worth keeping an eye on, it appears.
• For months and months and months I got question after question about the Burger King at 1107 W. Sixth St., which was closed after a fire in August 2013. People would ask: When is Burger King going to open? How come Burger King hasn’t opened? Why are you wearing a bathrobe and a paper crown and muttering things about Whoppers? You know, the usual questions. Well, as I told you many times Burger King indeed did plan to reopen following the fire, but it just took longer than expected. I can now report the restaurant has reopened, as of about a week ago. Just to be sure, I even went inside. I can report it looks a lot like a . . . Burger King. Although it is nice, new and shiny, and there indeed were paper crowns available.