New sandwich chain to locate on 23rd Street; cookie business moves, sparking new downtown restaurant rumor; yellow signs invade Oread neighborhood
If the great inventor Thomas Edison would have come up with this first, we would never have the lightbulb. Picture this: You order a shake. It comes in a cup with a straw, and — I advise you to sit down for this part — the straw has cookies on it. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it too, but apparently it is one of the features of a new chain sandwich and dessert shop that plans to open on 23rd Street.
Plans have been filed at City Hall for Potbelly Sandwich Shop at 1618 W. 23rd St., which currently is the location of Dunn Brothers Coffee.
My understanding is that Potbelly is a big deal in Chicago, where it got its start as a mom-and-pop sandwich shop that started in an antique store. Sandwiches are its main thing, but it also has a dessert menu, and I would have my journalistic credentials revoked if I didn’t immediately share information about straws with cookies on them. Here’s a picture:
As for the sandwiches, the hook there is that they are all toasted. The menu is full of traditional offerings, such as turkey, roast beef, meatball, an Italian, and a chicken salad that the restaurant says is made on site each day. But the restaurant also offers a few that you may not find at other chain restaurants, such as a grilled chicken Mediterranean with hummus, artichoke hearts, feta cheese and several other ingredients. The restaurant also offers a special brand of sandwich called a Skinny. It features less meat and cheese and skinnier bread. The selling point is that each sandwich is under 400 calories.
The restaurant also offers a half-dozen salads, including a few that are beyond the ordinary, such as a chickpea veggie salad and an “Uptown Salad” that includes grilled chicken, grapes, apples, dried cranberries, candied walnuts and blue cheese. Soups also are on the menu, and the breakfast menu features breakfast sandwiches and steel cut oatmeal.
The company’s website also touts that each restaurant is a bit different too. I noted that the original restaurant was started by a couple who owned an antique shop and started selling sandwiches to their noontime customers. As a result, each restaurant now has a little bit of an antique store look. In addition, the website indicates that most restaurants typically have live music at various times, often during the lunch hour.
As for the Potbelly part of the name, every restaurant in the chain includes a potbelly stove. (This is much better than how I tried to pull off the concept. I had no idea a potbelly pig could become so unruly, especially around the sight of bacon.)
The restaurant chain expanded into Kansas City a couple of years ago. The closest locations are in Overland Park and Mission.
No word yet on when the Lawrence restaurant will open. The project needs to win some site plan approvals to do a small addition onto the building. Plans call for about a 360 square-foot addition to the dining area, an approximately 600 square-foot patio area and changes to the configuration of the drive-thru lane.
As for Dunn Brothers Coffee, there is a sign on the door saying the business has lost its lease. It says the shop's last day of business will be June 24. The sign makes no mention of a new Lawrence location for Dunn Brothers, which has been open in the location for a little more than 10 years.
In other news and notes from around town:
• There is other news on the cookie front. Hot Box Cookies has closed its store in downtown Lawrence and has reopened inside The Oread hotel at 1200 Oread Ave. In case you have forgotten, Hot Box Cookies was located at 732 Massachusetts St. I have no official word about what will locate in that space, but word on the street says to keep our eyes open for a wing-oriented restaurant. I’ll let you know if I hear more.
• If you have been in the Oread neighborhood lately, you perhaps have noticed a few yellow yard signs that the city requires to be placed on property when new development has been proposed. When I say a few signs, I mean 308.
There are yellow signs everywhere in the Oread neighborhood currently, but, no, plans have not been filed to build a giant cookie factory in the historic neighborhood. Instead, new design guidelines have been proposed for the neighborhood. Actually, the design guidelines already have been approved once, but city officials realized after the fact that they had not met the letter of the law when it came to notifying residents of the proposed changes. City code requires the yellow signs to be posted on property that will be affected by zoning or development code changes. That wasn’t done the first time the design guidelines were heard. If the city placed a yellow sign at every property in the Oread neighborhood, that would be several thousand signs. My understanding is city officials have determined that placing a sign at every intersection in the neighborhood will meet the requirement. More specifically, every corner of every intersection has been the thought process. That means that there are eight signs at every intersection.
In case you are wondering, the signs advertise public hearings that will take place in June and July about the design guidelines.
Although the design guidelines were approved previously, there was dissent, especially from some landlords. Concerns were raised about parking requirements and zoning regulations that would limit the number of residents in each home.
• A quick housekeeping note: Town Talk will not appear on Friday. I’ll be conducting experiments with straws, cookies, yellow signs and an overly perturbed potbelly pig. I hope to return on Monday.
Excuse me while I make my way through these piles of spent party streamers, empty firework tubes and the rows of cannons from the 21-gun salute. (I assume you held a similar impromptu celebration as your kids walked out the door for the first day of school.)
Well, now I understand there is another way to celebrate the glorious event: Home delivery of cookies and milk.
We reported last month that a Columbia Mo.-based company called Hot Box Cookies would be setting up shop in downtown Lawrence. Indeed it has. Hot Box Cookies opened last week in the space at 732 Massachusetts St., the former home of 3 Spoons Frozen Yogurt.
But what I didn't know about the business last month is that it aims to do for cookies what Dominoes did for pizza.
"We deliver cookies that are hot and milk that is cold," said Lauren Critchfield, director of marketing and social media for Hot Box. "We think we're one of the only cookie delivery services in the nation."
The company does have a $12 minimum for delivery orders, but Critchfield, being in marketing and all, notes that is only six cookies and two milks.
"That sounds like the perfect meal," she said.
It sounds like I need to find my pants with the elastic waistband.
The business aims to do good walk-in business at its downtown store as well. The store plans to be open from 11 a.m. to midnight on most days, though on Friday and Saturdays during the school year, it likely will be open until 2 a.m. to accommodate the bar crowd.
The shop features about a dozen types of cookies, with most ranging from $1 to $1.25 apiece. Also on the menu is milk, milkshakes, chocolate chip cookie cakes, and frozen cookie dough pucks that you can take home and bake later. (I was supposed to bake them?)
The shop also offers ice cream sandwiches, where you pick your cookies and they make the sandwich.
"It is like a Klondike Bar on steroids," Critchfield said. (I wonder if they are going to name it an A-Rod sandwich, although to be fair, we don't know if this cookie crumbles in the playoffs.)
The Lawrence location is the first one for Hot Box outside of Columbia. Critchfield said the store's owners were visiting Lawrence one day and fell in love with Massachusetts Street.
"We think this is just the first link in the chain," Critchfield said of the company's expansion plans. "It is a growing business. People love cookies because they are simple and they are a taste of home."
The perfect dinner of six cookies and two glasses of milk, I'm finding, may make you a little groggy.
Well, downtown Lawrence still has a Springhill Suites by Marriott for sleeping it off. Also last month, we reported that the hotel near Sixth and New Hampshire streets had sold. As we said at the time, all signs were pointing to the likelihood that the property would remain a SpringHill Suites by Marriott.
Recently, I've gotten in touch with one of the members of the new ownership group, and he has confirmed it.
"This is actually one of my favorite properties out of the whole portfolio that we purchased," said Clyde Johnson, chief investment officer for the BC Lynd group that purchased the hotel and five others from Overland Park-based Capital Management Inc.
Johnson said the Marriott flag will remain on the property, and he said most of the changes will involve bringing some of the management ideas he and his partners have used while developing more full-service, upscale properties for other hotel groups. While with another company, Johnson was involved with the management of the Hilton President in downtown Kansas City, and other Johnson County full service hotels.
"I think this hotel has a lot of potential because of its uniqueness," Johnson said of the property, which offers room views of the Kansas River. "I think the ballrooms are underutilized. We will actively market them to the community."
San Antonio-based BC Lynd operates about 1,000 hotel rooms across the country following the latest purchase.
Retail rumblings including a new cookie store on Mass. Street, a mattress store going out of business, and a change in venue for a downtown hot spot
From chicken wings to cookies to mattresses: It sounds like a productive Sunday afternoon to me. It also is a set of topics that are trending in Lawrence's retail world currently.
• I've gotten confirmation that a store called Hot Box Cookies will be setting up shop on Massachusetts Street in the coming days. The cookie shop has inked a lease at 732 Massachusetts Street, the former home of 3 Spoons Frozen Yogurt, Bob Sarna, a representative of the building's ownership group, told me.
Hot Box currently operates in Columbia, Mo.. Based on its website, it offers about a dozen different cookie options, including chocolate chip, M&M, oatmeal raisin and snickerdoodles. The business in Columbia also offers shakes, ice cream sandwiches, and good old-fashioned milk to wash it all down.
But this likely isn't your grandpa's cookie shop. According to the website, the store is open until 2:30 a.m. on many nights, which tells me a few people may have a craving for a cookie after they have consumed a certain other type of beverage at their favorite nightclub.
It sounds like the cookie shop may be open as soon as this week.
• A South Iowa Street mattress store is calling it quits. Bed Mart, 2329 Iowa St., will start hosting a going-out-of-business sale on Wednesday.
Gary Lucas, who owns the store with his wife, Kathy, said the store's lease is up and they have been looking to retire.
"We're just tired, basically," Lucas said. "The business is still all right, but we are just too tired to do it anymore. We basically work seven days a week at it."
The mattress market has changed in Lawrence in recent years. The national chain Mattress Firm opened up at 33rd and Iowa streets in the last year, and Discovery Furniture near 25th and Iowa streets has become a major player in the mattress market.
The sector may be one worth keeping an eye on in the future. People in the development industry tell me that the national chain Mattress Hub has been looking for locations in the city. Who knows whether they actually will decide to enter the market, but it is worth keeping an eye on.
• Take this one for whatever you think it is worth, but there's lots of speculation that Buffalo Wild Wings will move out of downtown to set up shop on South Iowa Street.
Multiple sources have told me that Buffalo Wild Wings is the mystery tenant for a proposed restaurant/retail building at 27th and Iowa streets where an Olive Garden was once proposed.
I called a general manager at Buffalo Wild Wings, and she didn't squash the rumor. Instead, she simply said she has heard it too, but said the corporate office hasn't made any announcements yet.
Buffalo Wild Wings currently occupies space at 1012 Massachusetts St., and by all appearances does well there. The South Iowa Street location would allow for a larger restaurant and more parking.
People with a wing-craving, though, shouldn't panic. Any move likely would be quite a ways off. The project would involve constructing a new building on the site. I'll keep my eyes open for something more official on this one.
But actually, I won't have my eyes open much for a few days. Town Talk is taking a break until July 23, while it recharges its batteries. Yes, I suspect it will involve chicken wings, cookies and a mattress at some point in time.