A longtime Austin bar owner has plans to expand a Massachusetts Street building, open a new bar
It sure looks like a bar operator in a major college town plans to plant himself on downtown Lawrence’s Massachusetts Street.
Plans have been filed at Lawrence City Hall for a bar called Logie’s to take over the space at 728 Massachusetts St. That is the space currently occupied by Tonic and Mass St. Pub, which are also bars.
Those, however, are local bars, and Logie’s looks like it is part of a growing chain run by a longtime bar operator out of Austin. And, importantly, Logie’s plans to be larger than Tonic and Mass St. Pub. The plans filed at City Hall call for an approximately 1,200 square foot expansion onto the back of the building that will allow for a kitchen, new restrooms and other amenities.
I’m a little shy on details currently because attempts to reach Joe Bendetti, who is listed on the application as the guy behind the Logie’s business, have been unsuccessful for the last couple of weeks. A quick internet search shows Bendetti was the owner of the longtime downtown Austin bar Logan’s on Sixth. But according to Mr. Google, that bar is now closed. He also owned a Logan’s in Madison, Wis., but closed it after getting into a license dispute with city officials there, according to news reports.
However, the internet does show several listings for Logie’s bars that are still operating. There is a Logie’s on Campus in College Station, Texas, which is home to Texas A&M. There also is a Logie’s on the Corner in Norman, Okla., which is home to the University of Oklahoma. There is also a Logie’s on Beltline in Dallas, which used to be home to J.R. Ewing and other guys who really know how to wear a Stetson. (Maybe it also is near a university, but I don’t know which one.)
While plans call for the Lawrence Logie’s to have a kitchen, it looks like the emphasis at the other Logie’s locations is on being a bar. I never found a menu for the locations, but several reviews mentioned bar food such as wings. The focus on the social media pages for Logie’s, though, seemed to be on the drinks and the entertainment. The College Station establishment promoted several emo bands, lots of DJ music, game-watching events and specials on tequila shots and beer. The Norman bar even promotes something called Movie Night at Logie’s.
I’ll let you know if I get any other good details from Bendetti. In terms of the City Hall process, he has filed a design review for the expansion plans. The city’s planning department is still processing that application.
One issue the city will have to consider is the special nature of the property at 728 Massachusetts St. It is one of a handful of downtown properties that received a “grandfather” exemption from a city law that requires downtown drinking establishments to make at least 55 percent of their sales from food. In the early 1990s the city put that law in place to stop downtown from becoming a pure bar district. However, it allowed several locations that already were established as bars to be exempted from the food requirement.
However, it is a little unclear on how much those exempted properties can expand their physical footprints and still keep the exemption from the food requirement. City officials are still reviewing that part of the plan, I’m told. UPDATE: City officials have told me the expansion is allowed under city code, but it will require a special vote of the City Commission. No date yet on when that issue might come before the commission.