Firehouse Subs set to open in late January near 31st and Iowa; city set to spend nearly $1 million for new trash truck facility
If you are like me and you enjoy using phrases like "hook and ladder," "lug that hose," and "let's slide down the pole," you won't have to wait long until there's a Lawrence restaurant where you can impart such gems of wisdom.
As we briefly mentioned earlier this week, Lawrence is getting its first Firehouse Subs franchise, and the company now has confirmed to me that it plans to open on Jan. 24. The sandwich shop is set to go into a portion of the long vacant building that is in front of Home Depot at 31st and Iowa streets.
As the name suggests, the business will have a definite firefighter theme, and not just on its menu. The restaurants are full of firefighting memorabilia, and the Lawrence location will have a mural of firefighters battling the 1991 blaze that burned Hoch Auditorium on the KU campus.
The menu also will have a firehouse feel. Firefighters are in the business of dealing with heat, and apparently that extends to their sandwiches. Most of the restaurant's sandwiches are steamed, hot sandwiches. They come with names like the Hook and Ladder, the Firehouse Meatball, the Engineer and the New York Steamer, which features a couple of meats that don't always make the cut at a Midwest sandwich shop: corned beef and pastrami. And the restaurant gives you at least one other chance to talk like a firefighter. If you want the works on a sandwich — all the mustard, mayo and veggies — you call that "fully involved."
The Lawrence restaurant is being opened by a pair of brothers, Christian and Trevor Smith. Christian said he had been looking for an opportunity to move to Lawrence for several years, after living in Manhattan. He said the 31st Street location was appealing because activity is sure to pick up in the area as Menards and other retailers build along the 31st Street corridor.
He said he also thinks the restaurant's concept is going to help it stand out in the market.
"It really is not a themed restaurant," Christian said. "It really is the heritage of the brothers who started the first restaurant."
The restaurant is a bit unique in that it prominently promotes its nonprofit foundation that provides funding to fire departments and public safety organizations across the country. The restaurant sells unique buckets that their pickles come in for $2 apiece. All that money goes to the nonprofit Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. Since 2005, the foundation has raised $8.3 million.
In other news and notes from around town, there's a lot on the Lawrence City Commission's Tuesday agenda. I'll get you more details on many of these in the near future, but here's a quick look:
• The sights and sounds of trash trucks soon may be less common in East Lawrence. City commissioners will consider signing a contract to buy about 10 acres of property in the Santa Fe Industrial park north of the Kansas Turnpike to house a new solid waste facility. That means all the trash trucks that currently are housed at 11th and Haskell would move to the new location, which is right next to the large Kmart Distribution Center. No word yet on how the city may use its property at 11th and Haskell in the future. The city is proposing to pay $995,000 for the site, which includes a 9,200 square foot building, which has been used by the Koch Trucking Co.
• Navigating the 900 block of New Hampshire Street may get a little more difficult this winter. Crews that are constructing the multistory hotel at the southeast corner of the intersection are now asking for a good portion of the block to be entirely closed to traffic until March 1. Currently, only the northbound lane of New Hampshire is closed from Ninth Street to the mid-block crosswalk that leads to the Lawrence Arts Center. The new proposal would close both the north and southbound lanes of traffic from Ninth to the crosswalk. The extra space is needed for a crane and a loading area. Commissioners will consider the request at their Tuesday evening meeting.
• The city's latest draft ordinance to create a rental licensing and inspection program is now available for the public to review. Click here to see all the details. There is a lot to wade through there, and I'll provide a more detailed report later. But even a quick glance shows that staff members are not recommending an idea by Commissioner Jeremy Farmer to place informational placards in every rental unit in the city. The placards would have had contact information on how tenants could request a city inspection of their property at any time. Instead, staff members are recommending an educational campaign that involves sending letters to every rental unit each September. Commissioners won't take any action or discuss the proposed ordinance at Tuesday's meeting. Instead, the issue is scheduled to be discussed at their Feb. 4 meeting.
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Maybe some of you have seen the signs advertising a new deli coming to the 600 block of Vermont Street in downtown Lawrence. Maybe some of you even know the backstory. It certainly is an old one — like about 2,000 years old.
Plans call for the Yellow Deli to open at 619 Vermont St., the former Heartland Community Church building. For others of you, it may be easier to describe it as the building just north of Dempsey's Burger Pub.
I got in touch with one of the organizers of the Yellow Deli, and he confirmed the sandwich shop is affiliated with an organization called The Twelve Tribes, a group of believers who live together and share their possessions, much like some tribes did in biblical times.
"The Yellow Deli is owned and operated by a local group of believers who live together and share all things like the believers in Acts II and IV written in the Bible," Phil Patmon, a member of the group, told me.
They also make sandwiches, and quite a few of them. According to its website, the Yellow Deli has nine locations across the U.S. plus one in Canada and one in Australia. My understanding is they are all associated with The Twelve Tribes organization. The nearest one to Lawrence is in Boulder, Colo. The first one was opened in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1973. Click here to read some pretty interesting history.
Although the restaurant's marketing tag line is "We serve the Fruit of the Spirit, Why not Ask?", the restaurant will just serve you a sandwich, too. (No, prices aren't from 2,000 years ago.) Patmon said the restaurant's menu will feature sandwiches made on bread baked fresh in the store, a few breakfast items, coffee and an energizing Brazilian tea known as Yerba Mate.
The hours of the business also are worth noting. All the Yellow Delis are open continuously from noon on Sunday until 3 p.m. Friday, which I believe goes back to the group's belief structure. Click here to read how The Twelve Tribes describes what it believes in.
"We want to be a place open 24 hours a day so people have a place to come when they don't have any other place to go," said Patmon, who grew up in the Kansas City area and has been a member of the Twelve Tribes for 18 years.
As for when the Lawrence deli will open, I don't have a very specific answer for you yet. Patmon kept his answer in a big ballpark.
"We want to build it just right for every kind of person to be comfortable here," Patmon said. "That will take some time. It took Noah 100 years to build the ark, but we expect to get this deli open before then."
It will be an interesting process to watch. I'm hopeful that I'll get a chance to chat with Patmon some more regarding how large the group of followers are in the Lawrence area and perhaps give you a peek at how they live their lives.
We'll see whether that comes to fruition. The Twelve Tribes organization has been in the media before. As you can imagine, the organization takes exception to how some people have labeled the group a "cult." There also have been media reports over the years involving law enforcement removing some children from Twelve Tribes communities. In all honesty, I don't have a good handle on the type of controversies that may have sprung up around the organization, but I know there have been some because the Twelve Tribes organization makes a point to note them on its website.
I'll let you know when I learn more.
In other news and notes from around town:
• While we are on the subject of sandwich shops, I'll quickly note that it looks like Lawrence is going to get its first Firehouse Subs shop. A sign for the business has gone up in the long vacant building in front of Home Depot at 31st and Iowa streets. I've got a message into who I think is the owner of that local franchise, and hope to report back more information soon.