If I could just get my hair to grow like famed boxing promoter Don King, I think I could put together a heck of a rumble here in Lawrence. Picture this: Ronald McDonald, the Taco Bell Chihuahua, and his majesty the Burger King squaring off in the middle of 23rd and Iowa streets. It would be a fast-food rumble in a slow-lane intersection. I’m not sure such an event is going to happen, but there are signs that the battle for the local fast-food dollar is heating up.
Last week we told you about plans for the McDonald’s on south Iowa Street to temporarily close while it adds a double drive-thru lane and gets an interior remodel. And we’ve been talking for months about the complete makeover of the Burger King near Sixth and Maine streets. Now, we have information about a major remodel for one of Taco Bell’s locations in Lawrence.
Everything but the drive-thru is currently closed at the Taco Bell at 1408 W. 23rd St. Crews are undertaking a complete remodeling of the lobby and the exterior of the building. For the time being, drive-thru service is still available, but a manager at the restaurant said the drive-thru also will be shut down in a few weeks in order to complete the rest of the remodel.
Work began last week, and crews are expected to take another six to seven weeks to complete the lobby renovations, said Linda Smith, a manager at the restaurant. She said work then will move to renovating the kitchen, which likely will take another six weeks or so. During that time, the restaurant will be closed.
“It is going to look fantastic when it is done,” Smith said. “It will be really flashy. A lot of neon.”
The major remodel comes just a couple of months after Chipotle opened a new restaurant that is basically next door to the Taco Bell. Can you say Burrito Brouhaha? (Don’t feel bad. It took me weeks before I mastered the Spanish language.)
In other news and notes from around town:
• I actually have been tangentially involved in herding buffalo before, and I can say that process is similar to trying to find out when the new Buffalo Wild Wings on south Iowa Street is going to open. As we have reported several times, the new building being constructed at the northeast corner of 27th and Iowa streets will house a Buffalo Wild Wings. Before you get out your mega-size wet wipes, though, it is important to note the entire building won’t be occupied by Buffalo Wild Wings. There will be space for two other businesses. We’ve reported a tanning salon is taking one of the spaces, and the other space is still searching for a tenant.
A sign has emerged on the site saying Buffalo Wild Wings is “opening soon” at the south Iowa Street location. I have been calling a Buffalo Wild Wings spokesperson for a few weeks, but I haven’t had any luck in getting a more specific timeline. An employee at the downtown Buffalo Wild Wings, however, did confirm that the downtown location will close. I think we all expected that, but the company had been pretty mum on that part of the project as well. That will leave a large space in downtown in search of a tenant. I’ll keep my ears open on that one.
If you remember long ago, I reported that there may be another wing player entering the Lawrence market, and it would have a connection to a famous wing on a past KU basketball team. About this time last year, we reported that Keith Langford’s family was posting messages on Facebook that it had been approved by the national franchise Wing Stop to open a restaurant here. I haven’t had much luck in contacting the Langfords about that possibility, but in the past few months, I have heard from others that the idea still has some legs to it.
• Thus far we have mentioned Taco Bell, McDonalds, Burger King and chicken wings. In my relentless effort to promote a healthy lifestyle, I’ll now talk about a half-marathon. City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will consider granting the necessary permits for Lawrence-based Silverback Enterprises and Health Care Access to host the 2014 Kansas Half Marathon and 5K run on Nov. 2.
The marathon route would begin at Watson Park in downtown and would travel along Massachusetts Street from about Seventh Street to 15th Street. It will travel along 11th Street to get back to downtown and will use one lane of Sixth Street near City Hall to get to the Kansas River bridges. The route then will continue into North Lawrence, using a combination of residential streets and the Kansas River levee. The route will end at Watson Park.
The 5K route will use Seventh Street to get into East Lawrence and will use portions of Eighth, Delaware and 11th streets before returning to Watson Park.
The event will create some lane closures and traffic delays while runners are on the course. The event is expected to run from about 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Last year, the event sparked some concern from downtown churches that had some problems with Sunday morning parking. According to a letter from Health Care Access, the group is working to better notify churches of possible impacts this year.
We’ll see if commissioners have any concerns about the race. One issue they will have to decide is whether to donate some city services for the event. The race will need assistance from the fire and police departments. The city has billed some events for the time spent by police and fire at these races, but this event is a major fundraiser for Health Care Access. The city has donated the time of the police and fire departments for some events that have been nonprofit fundraisers. The fire department is estimating it will spend about $2,200 staffing the event. The police department estimates it will spend about $6,000 staffing the event.
Commissioners meet at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall.
If you are like me and you need a burrito break every once in a while as you navigate the traffic on 23rd Street, you’ll soon have a new option.
The folks from Chipotle Mexican Grill have filed plans to tear down an existing retail building on 23rd Street and build a new restaurant.
The company has filed a site plan to redevelop the old multi-tenant retail building at 1420 W 23rd Street. In case you can’t picture that building (you might have salsa on your glasses; it happens to me a lot while driving on 23rd Street), the building is an older wooden structure that sits back off the street a bit, and has housed an insurance agency, tobacco store, wireless phone company and other various tenants recently. It is right next door to . . . wait, wait . . . Taco Bell.
Can you say, “Let’s get ready to rumble!.” (But can you say it really cool like that one guy? And if so, are people in your office looking oddly at you right now?)
According to the site plan on file at City Hall, the development will replace the approximately 6,000-square-foot, multi-tenant building with a 2,200-square-foot, standalone Chipotle restaurant. The restaurant, it appears, also will have a sizable outdoor seating area.
No word yet on a timeline for the project, or any plans for existing tenants in the building. But I’ve got a message into a representative with the development and will let you know if I hear anything interesting.