Longtime Massachusetts Street restaurant closes; local baker semifinalist for James Beard award

In this file photo from Nov. 9, 2010, customers eat lunch at Ingredient, 947 Massachusetts St.

The rumors are true. The once-popular downtown restaurant Ingredient has closed.

The restaurant at 10th and Massachusetts streets had been dark for a couple of days, so I went there this morning to investigate. Owner Nick Wysong was there and confirmed he had decided to shut down the restaurant after 12 years in business. He said Lawrence diners should keep their eyes open for him in the future, but he provided no other specifics about his plans.

Ingredient gained a following as a “chef-owned restaurant,” and it featured a heavy dose of wood-fired pizza, gourmet salads and several varieties of sandwiches. Wysong had branched out in the restaurant business recently. Last year he was part of the group that opened Harold’s Chicken Whiskey & Donuts. That restaurant, though, closed not long after it opened. It is not to be confused with Wake the Dead Breakfast Bar, which also involves whiskey, doughnuts and some chicken. It is still operating at 7 E. Seventh St. Leaders of those two businesses at one point in time were connected, but that fell apart.

In this file photo from Nov. 9, 2010, customers eat lunch at Ingredient, 947 Massachusetts St.

Wysong also took over Jackpot Saloon & Music Hall in downtown Lawrence early last year. It is still open and hosting some concerts.

Wysong didn’t provide any details about what caused him to close the restaurant. However, there are signs of some business struggles in downtown. The list of vacancies is significant. I won’t promise this is a comprehensive list, but here are several prominent vacancies along Massachusetts Street:

• The national chain clothing retailer White House Black Market closed a few weeks ago, leaving its storefront at 714 Massachusetts St. vacant.

• Dan Blomgrem’s Crema Dolce Gelaterio has closed. It was located above Rudy’s Pizzeria at 704 Massachusetts St.

• As we have reported, clothing retailer The Buckle closed its downtown store at 805 Massachusetts. The Buckle closed in March, meaning that large storefront on a very busy block has been empty for almost a year. It looks like the owners are willing to divide that space to accommodate smaller users.

• Another large storefront that has been empty for almost a year is the Pro-Print building at 838 Massachusetts St. This is a little different scenario. Pro-Print did not close. It simply moved its printing business to Sixth and Wakarusa in west Lawrence. It moved out of downtown after owners of the building sold the property. Based on property records on file at the courthouse, it looks like an individual associated with Yantra Financial Technologies has bought the building. Yantra is a financial services firm that is developing technology that helps banks make large transactions at very high speeds. Yantra’s offices currently are next door to the former Pro-Print space. So, I’ll check in soon with Yantra officials to see if there is an update.

• The former Buffalo Wild Wings and Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen space at 1012 Massachusetts St. also is still vacant. That spot may say something about the challenges with downtown restaurants. Buffalo Wild Wings closed in November 2014, and then Jazz closed in fall 2016 after being open for only a year. The large restaurant space has been vacant ever since. As a reminder, Buffalo Wild Wings opened a new location at 27th and Iowa streets. There was some mild surprise that Buffalo Wild Wings would leave an entertainment district like downtown, but officials in 2014 told me they wanted to get to a location with more parking. Thus far, it appears the move has worked well for them. The small shopping center at 27th and Iowa street is undergoing a bit of an expansion currently. (Hope to get you info on some new tenants there soon.)

• The former bank location at 800 Massachusetts St. continues to be vacant. It most recently was home to Great American Bank, but it always planned to be there just temporarily. It occupied the space while its new headquarters was being built at Eighth and New Hampshire streets. The location has struggled to find anything more than a temporary tenant since early 2012 when Central National Bank closed its downtown branch.

Downtown goes through stretches like this. Leases in downtown Lawrence often are done on five-year terms, and there are periods where many of those leases expire all at once, and many changes in business occur at once. There may be some of that going on, but I think there are also just some business struggles, despite some fairly positive economic news otherwise (i.e. sales tax returns.)

In other news and notes from around town:

There is happier food news at the 1900 Barker Bakery & Cafe. Taylor Petrehn has been named as a semifinalist for the Outstanding Baker designation by the prestigious James Beard Foundation. This is the second consecutive year Petrehn has been a semifinalist for the award. Petrehn, who is a co-owner of the business, has gained quite a following for simply made bread that eschews a lot of additives, sweeteners and oils. The menu includes lots of sourdoughs, plus a selection of croissants and other baked goods.

Petrehn is one of two finalists from Kansas. Megan Garrelts of Rye in Leawood is a semifinalist in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category.

Finalists will be announced on March 14.

Taylor Petrehn operates 1900 Barker Bakery and Cafe, 1900 Barker Ave.