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Speculation grows that Casey's General Store will open in Lawrence


In small towns all over the state, one of the best places for gossip and speculation is the Casey’s General Store. You can usually leave with doughnut crumbs in your beard and juicy information in your ears. Well, in Lawrence we don’t have a Casey’s, but one of the more interesting pieces of speculation is we’re soon going to get one.

Two property owners along Sixth Street confirmed to me they have reached tentative deals to sell their properties to Casey’s General Store. Both property owners, though, also stressed the deals haven’t been finalized. Casey’s, though, sure looks like it plans to build a store in Lawrence. It has sent out a city-required notification letter to some surrounding property owners.

The location is the site of the College Motel at 1703 W. Sixth St. and the Action Automotive garage that is just to the west of the motel.

“It should happen in the next 60 days or so, if it is going to happen,” said Jim Vantuyl, who owns the property that houses Action Automotive. “Hopefully it happens.”

Harold C. Shephard owns the College Motel location, and he also confirmed he has a tentative deal with Casey’s. He said the convenience store chain is one of several entities that have been interested in buying the 1950s-era motel property since he put it on the market about seven months ago.

“It could still end up being somebody other than Casey’s,” he said.

If you are not familiar with Casey’s, you maybe haven’t spent enough time in small towns. The Iowa-based company has about 2,000 stores, and most of them are in small communities. The company’s original strategy was to locate in towns of 5,000 or fewer people, but it since has modified that approach.

This would be the company’s first store in Lawrence, although it kind of has the town surrounded. There are Casey’s locations in Eudora, De Soto, Tonganoxie, McLouth, Perry, Ottawa, and several on the outskirts of Topeka.

All the stores sell gasoline, and many of them sell an ethanol-free version that some people like for their older or smaller engines.

But, perhaps surprisingly, pizza is a big part of the company’s business. I read a 2016 article that reported Casey’s was the fifth largest seller of pizza in the U.S. and that pizza sales account for about 70 percent of the company’s annual sales. The company’s pizza menu includes custom-made pizzas that you can order ahead and pick up for carryout, but the stores also sell a lot of pizza by the slice.

The company also believes in the well-tested mantra that pizza is great for breakfast. The company makes several varieties of breakfast pizza. That is a concoction that eliminates the marinara sauce and replaces it with a cheese sauce and eggs. Toppings include bacon, sausage, diced ham, or green pepper and onion.

In addition to the pizza, the stores also sell doughnuts, breakfast sandwiches, sub sandwiches, hamburgers, a lot of grab-and-go finger food, plus all the normal convenience store items.

As for a timeline, that is still a guess. The deal is still tentative, as the company has not yet filed official plans with City Hall. However, the fact that they have sent a letter to surrounding property owners seems to indicate the company is serious about moving ahead.

The new Casey’s stores are pretty large. De Soto may be the closest location with a newer model store. The project presumably would require the removal of all the existing buildings on the two sites. That means Lawrence would lose a bit of a unique building. The College Motel — which, I guess could be described as a budget motel currently — has that old roadside motel look, featuring a stone-cottage design.

Shephard told me the hotel dated back to the 1950s. Vantuyl, whose family has operated a car dealership along Sixth Street for more than 50 years, had more specifics. He said the hotel was built in 1954. His family’s car lot came along in 1963. At that time, there wasn’t much around the site. Sixth Street was better known as U.S. Highway 40, and the roads that shot off it were gravel.

“We were the last thing on Sixth Street for quite a while,” Vantuyl said.

Eventually some development happened, and I wonder if some of you remember this one: a structure called the Super Slide. Vantuyl said it was located about where Jayhawk Pawn and Jewelery is today. He said it simply was a large slide that people would go down on a gunny sack.

“I remember we used to go out there as kids and they would give us pieces of wax paper to make the gunny sacks go faster,” he said.

I wouldn’t look for a return of the Super Slide, but that area along Sixth Street is changing. A relatively large piece of property remains on the sale block. The Eagles building that is just behind the Dollar General store is being marketed for redevelopment.


Gary Gurney 7 months, 3 weeks ago

This would make a great addition to Lawrence. I wish QuikTrip would locate in NW lawrence also.

Gary Gurney 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Chad why is there a realtor sign in Hobby Lobby parking lot?

Jason Randall 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Their breakfast pizza is pretty darn good

David Holroyd 7 months, 3 weeks ago

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Brett McCabe 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Sounds like a business opportunity for you. Maybe you could open an all-night restaurant and create a new customer policy: fat wives beware, your safety is not guaranteed on these premises. Speaking of trashy.....

Andy Craig 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Hey David. You can get to pretty much anywhere in Lawrence from 9th & Iowa in 10 minutes...think about it...

Brett McCabe 7 months, 3 weeks ago

It would be interesting to see what the net tax effect is to the city on this type of development over time. Many times, sprawling parking lots and gas pumps don't actually bring in as much in the way of tax revenue as what they replace.

Not that it matters; property owners certainly have the right to sell their properties to the highest bidders - I'd do the same - but below poverty-line wages and the funneling of all profits outside of the city doesn't do much for the health of the local economy.

David Holroyd 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Andy,,,,tourists do not know what is available.

A real city has the venues close to the motels and they are concentrated at 6th and Iowa and 9th and Iowa.

Brett,,,I would entertain the idea of a Waffle House..but Fritizel screwed up the land near the holidome..with a warehouse...

But there is a site and it;s not there.. However,,,traffic control is a problem..and it will be on 6th street with a Caseys.

People try to exit from McDonalds on 6th street to go left...it would be easer to go in the front of McDonalds to the parking lot behind their offices and go to the light on Michigan..

PEOPLE ARE JUST PLAIN dumb when it comes to driving Lawrence..and wait till Casey's comes. I hope they have an appealing store and it isn't designed like the others...

that makes 3 gas stations on 6th but yet between 6th and Iowa and 23 there are NONE

Andy Craig 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Google is your friend...think about it.

David Holroyd 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Save the College Motel sign for a sign museum...and all the other businesss that disappear...some really good ones went bye bye.but it is not too late..

An outdoor sign musuem park.....and charge 50Cents to take a looksie and the money would go toward the repair of the Mausoleum roof..

Markus can't even fix a rood....maybe Caseys will donate some left over sheet metal from the construction of a new building....at this point a roof of Casey's pizza boxes will do.

David Holroyd 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Andy,,,Lawrence needs signage NOT google

Can GOOGLE fix the roof on the Mausoluem?

Brandon Devlin 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Couldn't you just do it? That way, none of us would have to hear about it anymore.

David Holroyd 7 months, 3 weeks ago

NO! The city promised to do it. Toni Wheeler said they had $10,000 toward it.

Promises, FAKE promises!

Don Brennaman 7 months, 3 weeks ago

You couldn't count the gas stations on Iowa.

David Holroyd 7 months, 3 weeks ago

If Casey's is built the Greyhound Bus can stop there. Toilets..pizza, and snack.

AND close to the Turnpike entrance/exit.

Will the city be smart enough to work with Casey's and Greyhound...Probably need a stoplight.

Take some time and look at the traffic backed up from Mass to Iowa around 3:30 to 5:00....and the drivers trying to make a left hand turn to get in the lanes going west...

Don, I counted the pumps even! But some do not work as is usual at most stations...

Brandon Devlin 7 months, 3 weeks ago

"Take some time and look at the traffic backed up from Mass to Iowa round 3:30 to 5:00."
Then, take some time and think about the traffic on any thoroughfare in any major metropolitan community, and thank your lucky stars you live in Lawrence.

Bryce Landon 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Casey's donuts are awesome! The pizza can be good, but sometimes they get it too greasy, and that upsets my stomach.

I live in Iowa now; and there's a Casey's pretty much every town I see.

David Holroyd 7 months, 3 weeks ago

the city is about to approve a lease payment in the amount to the Simons family for the riverfront mall space but the family , the world company owes money...DEDUCT it.

brought to you by the same commission that can't tix the mausoleum roof and cant water the golf courses and parks and cemeteries from the EXTRA water at Farmland...we got some winners!

But Casey's they are all moist about...waiting for a donut and a slice of pepperoni,

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