It’s official: Teller’s restaurant is now a thing of the past.
We reported in May that the downtown institution Teller’s, 746 Massachusetts St., was closing to undergo renovations and a change in concept from Italian-American eatery to a gastropub.
But at the time, the owners weren’t sure whether the Teller’s name would remain. Well, new chef TK Peterson and general manager Philip Wilson have announced the new restaurant will be called Merchants Pub & Plate. The name pays homage to the Merchants National Bank, which the duo says was the first tenant of the historic bank building at the corner of Eighth and Massachusetts streets.
Folks will have to wait a bit longer, though, to see what a pub and plate restaurant involves. The restaurant is still undergoing renovations, and is not set to open until mid-August.
But as you can imagine, any restaurant with pub in its name is going to have a strong emphasis on beer. The restaurant plans to have 30 beers on tap, plus wines and “craft cocktails.” (I think that means you have to knit while you drink — which is the best way to knit — but I’m not sure of that.)
As for the menu, the duo is describing it as a “new dining concept reflective of the region.” I haven’t seen a full menu for the establishment, but the announcement mentioned “locally-inspired pub fare” such as homemade pimento cheese, fried green tomato sandwiches, and grilled quail panzanella salad.
The restaurant also plans to offer something called a “Chef’s Table.” It will be a single table at the restaurant that can be reserved for one seating per night. The menu for the table will be personally designed and prepared by Peterson, previously was the chef at The Oread hotel.
The restaurant will provide samples from its menu at the Phoenix Gallery during the Final Fridays event downtown this Friday.
I know some of you have gift certificates to Teller’s and want to know if they will be honored at the new restaurant. That wasn’t mentioned in the announcement. I’m checking on it, and if I get word about it, I’ll provide an update in this space. UPDATE: I've heard back from a representative of the restaurant who says Merchants gladly will accept gift certificates from Teller's.
Duo has plan to convert Teller’s into gastropub with heavy emphasis on craft beers; Papa Murphy’s opens with special event for Boys and Girls Club today
In Lawrence, beer is art. If you don’t believe me, drive through certain neighborhoods and behold the beer-bottle pyramids erected on many a front porch.
Well, it looks like Lawrence beer lovers may soon have another way to express their love for the beverage: a gastropub.
A deal is in the works to convert the longtime, downtown, upscale restaurant Teller’s into a gastropub that focuses on Midwest food and an extensive list of libations, led by a large lineup of craft beers.
The idea for the new restaurant comes from T.K. Peterson, the former executive chef of The Oread, and Philip Wilson, the operating manager of Teller’s.
Peterson left his position at The Oread last week, and if all goes as planned, he’ll join Wilson at Teller’s next month.
“It is a concept that I’m passionate about,” Peterson told me. “We feel like Lawrence needs a new restaurant concept like this, but really why it comes down to this is the type of food I like to cook.”
What type of food will that be? I don’t know. My mind was still on the beer. (What can I say? I’m a dedicated patron of the arts.) Peterson said the plan is for the restaurant to work with the usual brewers and develop relationships with many small-batch breweries, and perhaps even have some special batch brews created just for the restaurant.
Notice that I have used the word “plan” quite a bit here. Some details are still being worked out on this deal, but Peterson and Wilson agreed to share a few details with me because the rumor mill had started to crank up about the future of Teller’s and whether it was set to close.
As it is currently envisioned, Teller’s, 746 Massachusetts St., is scheduled to close temporarily for a major renovation. Wilson said the closing likely would take place around July 1 and the business would reopen in its new form before the students arrive in late August.
As for whether the new restaurant will keep the Teller’s name, Peterson said that hadn’t been decided. “We don’t know on that yet, but it is hard to ignore the kind of name recognition Teller’s has, not only locally but really with alumni across the country.”
The project will be a bit of a homecoming for Peterson. He worked at Teller’s while attending the Culinary Institute at Johnson County. In total, Peterson has about 12 years on the Lawrence food scene, including stints at the former upscale French restaurant Bleu Jacket at The Eldridge and for the last 17 months as the executive chef at The Oread.
It sounds like this project will be one to watch in the coming months. I’ll update you as a I get more information.
On another restaurant note, those of you who want some pizza and don’t want to get out of the car to get it are in luck. As we previously reported, Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza is one of the tenants opening in the new retail building at 650 Congressional Drive, which is just west of the Famous Dave’s BBQ location at Sixth and Wakarusa.
Well, Papa Murphy’s is now open at the location. (Wireless Zone, a Verizon Wireless phone dealer, is also open at that site. Other tenants for the location will include Prime Martial Arts and Meritrust Credit Union.) But back to pizza. Papa Murphy’s is hosting a special event today, where 20 percent of all sales made at the shop will go to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence.
As for the part about having the pizza placed right in your car, the location has a drive-through, which is a new concept for Papa Murphy’s in Lawrence. But hopefully you realize the “Take ‘N’ Bake” in Papa Murphy’s name means you have to cook the pizza yourself.
I don’t know about your vehicle, but my old F-150 doesn’t have an oven (or a working cassette player or a rear view mirror or brakes), so you may still have to get out of your vehicle to enjoy the pizza.
Or maybe not. I’ll ponder on it a bit. It is a beautiful May day. Perhaps I’ll do some pondering with a piece of pizza and a healthy dose of art, if you know what I mean.