Coffeehouse and pub with downtown vibe to open at 23rd and Iowa

Maybe we’ll start honking for hemp at 23rd and Iowa. Or maybe we will figure out how to get a parking ticket at 31st and Iowa. Or perhaps we’ll have a zombie walk in front of the south Lawrence Walmart. None of that is likely to happen, (my credit card bill at Walmart puts me in a catatonic state but I wouldn’t say zombie-like.) But there soon will be a new eating and drinking establishment that aims to bring a touch of downtown to Iowa Street.

Construction work is underway to convert the vacant space that used to house the Phoggy Dog bar at 23rd and Iowa into Shaun & Sons Artisan Pub & Coffee House. Co-owner Shaun Trenholm has one way of describing the new venture.

“It will be a place with a downtown atmosphere but on the south side,” Trenholm said.

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Trenholm also has another description of the place. “It will be everything the West Coast Saloon isn’t,” he said.

That’s not a knock on the longtime bar, which is next door to the space that Shaun’s will occupy. Trenholm wouldn’t do that. He has been a co-owner of West Coast for a staggering 36 years. (If I owned a bar for 36 years, ‘stagger’ would be the key adjective in every sentence.)

For example, West Coast has great hamburgers. Shaun’s menu will be all vegetarian or vegan options. Think cheese plates, soups, wraps, salads. West Coast has a full bar. Shaun’s will offer only craft beer and wine — no domestic beer or whiskey. West Coast has enough TVs to watch any sport known to man. Shaun’s will have no TVs, although it will have a meeting room with a computer monitor for presentations.

Then, there is the coffee. Shaun’s will serve several varieties of coffee from Messenger Coffee Co., a Kansas City-based company that does small-batch coffee roasting. At West Coast, I’m not sure you can get coffee even if you wake up there the next morning.

Shaun’s also plans to have live music and art shows. Trenholm said he thinks the coffeehouse and pub will be a place for new performers to get a start in Lawrence.

“It will be more like lounge music, though,” he said. “I want people to be able to talk while the music is playing.”

As for the art, he expects to have a lot of emerging artists too — mainly young students. Trenholm knows many art teachers in the Lawrence school district because he also is a teacher in the district. (P.E. at Woodlawn, if you are scoring at home.) He said he would like to get Shaun’s included in the Final Friday art events, which generally are more focused in the downtown or East Lawrence areas.

“We want to have some fun pieces on display,” Trenholm said. “Maybe we’ll even be able to sell a student piece or two.”

The most notable part of the business, though, may not have anything to do with coffee, beer or art. Instead, it may be a planned connection with local nonprofits. Trenholm’s wife, Lori, used to work in the nonprofit world, he said. She will largely run the coffeehouse operations — she’ll even have a blend named after her. Trenholm said Lori wanted to have a nonprofit element to the business, so Shaun’s will donate a portion of their gross sales to four local nonprofits. Current plans call for 2 percent of gross sales on weekdays to be split between the Lawrence Humane Society, Willow Domestic Violence Center, Cottonwood Inc. and St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church Mission to Nepal program. On Saturday nights one of the four charities will get the entire 2 percent of proceeds, he said.

The thought process behind the strategy is simple enough, Trenholm said. They like to support charity, and they think it will help the business standout too.

“We figure there are people who like coffee, there are people who like beer, and there are people who like charities,” Trenholm said. “Those people might as well come here. We think it will do a lot to spread word-of-mouth about the business.”

The business hopes to open sometime in August. Hours will be 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weeknights and 7 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays.