Soul food restaurant opens in eastern Lawrence; don’t let signs of redevelopment worry you at The Bottleneck; more than $200K of traffic calming considered for 27th Street
I try to keep my ear to the ground when it comes to new restaurants in town, and now I’ve found one where you can keep an ear to your mouth too. A soul food restaurant has opened in the shopping center at 19th and Haskell, and one of its menu items is a unique pig ear sandwich.
Kingfish Soul Food and Bistro opened a couple of months ago at 1910 Haskell. The owner simply gives his name as Kingfish, and who am I to press harder? (Ask the pig how well that works. Just be sure to speak really loudly.) He said he had worked for about 20 years with the noted soul food restaurant Niecie’s in Kansas City, Mo. He said he was looking for an opportunity of his own, and his wife had connections to the Lawrence area.
“And you guys have never had soul food here before,” Kingfish said. “People are catching on to it.”
Don’t worry, you don’t have to embrace the idea of a pig ear sandwich in order to be a soul food fan. The menu includes a lot of other dishes you may be more familiar with. Among the top sellers are catfish nuggets and filets, meatloaf, fried chicken, and a specialty dish called the Kansas City Po Boy. That involves a sandwich stuffed with catfish, tomato, shredded lettuce and Louisiana sauce.
Other dishes that you may not commonly find at other restaurants include liver and onions, a neck bone entree, grits, greens, yams, and sweet potato pie for dessert.
Kingfish said many of the recipes he learned from his grandmother and uncle, who both were longtime cooks. He said what’s really neat about the recipes, though, is how they’ve been passed down through the generations.
“Soul food has been around for at least 400 years,” Kingfish said. “People used to call it slave food, and now it has grown into a great American culinary tradition.”
The restaurant is open from noon to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
In other news and notes from around town:
• Let’s face it: There have been times all of us have wished we had an extra ear when we’ve attended a really loud concert at The Bottleneck.
Some of you may have noticed recently that there is a city-issued sign in the window alerting folks of pending development coming to the site. No need to worry, though. Nothing major is happening to the longtime bar and music venue at 737 New Hampshire St.
Instead, the venue has applied to add sidewalk seating to the establishment. New Hampshire Street is undergoing significant redevelopment, so I wanted to stop rumors before they got started. It used to be that only restaurants were eligible for sidewalk seating areas in downtown. But the city changed that requirement a few years ago. Bars now are eligible in some instances, and there are a few who have taken advantage of it.
In case you are keeping a scorecard of sidewalk seating issues in downtown, I might as well note that the city also has received an application from KC Smoke Burgers, the relatively new restaurant at 1008 Massachusetts St. City commissioners are expected to hear that request in the next week or so.
• Some speed humps and traffic calming circles may be in the future for a busy section of 27th Street in southern Lawrence.
City commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday will receive a report on how much it would cost to build some traffic calming devices on 27th Street between Iowa and Louisiana streets. The estimate: $170,000 to $230,000. None of the money currently is in the city’s budget.
But the issue of traffic on 27th Street has become a hot one ever since the Kansas Department of Transportation temporarily closed 31st Street west of Ousdahl as part of the South Lawrence Trafficway project. The amount of traffic on 27th Street has increased substantially as motorists have looked for other ways to get between Iowa and Louisiana streets. How substantial? Well, in 2012 — prior to the 31st Street closing — average traffic volumes were about 3,300 cars per day, I believe. The report didn’t specify per day but I think that is the case, and am working to confirm it. The city rechecked the street a few days ago and found average traffic volumes had grown to 9,450 vehicles. Average speeds were around 35 mph on the street, which is surrounded by residences.
City engineers report that a number of traffic calming devices could be appropriate for the street. There are traffic calming circles, which are smaller than roundabouts, but they cost about $50,000 apiece. The city said traffic calming circles may be appropriate at 27th and Ridge Court and 27th and Alabama. Speed cushions, a man-made bump in the road, also could work on the street, at the price of about $8,000 per cushion. Engineers have identified five locations for cushions on 27th Street.
Although not technically traffic calming devices, engineers said there are other improvements that could be made to improve pedestrian safety in the neighborhood. Those include a $60,000 pedestrian hybrid beacon, which allows pedestrians to push a button and activate a traffic signal. That would be near the area where the Naismith Park trail intersects with 27th Street. Another improvement would be to construct a sidewalk on the north side of 27th Street between Belle Haven and Arkansas Street. That has an estimated cost of $80,000.
One issue to keep in mind, though, is that it is unlikely any of these improvements could be constructed prior to 31st Street reopening to traffic. KDOT has estimated that 31st Street west of Louisiana Street will reopen midsummer. City engineers estimate it would take a “couple of months” to design the improvements on 27th Street and “several months” to construct the improvements.
There has been a suggestion that the city simply add some stop signs along the 27th Street route. City engineers, though, have offered some caution on that strategy. “Stop signs are not considered a traffic calming device since they do not physically require a motorist to adjust their driving,” David Woosley, the city’s traffic engineer wrote in a memo to commissioners. “In fact, studies have shown that they can have the opposite effect by increasing midblock speeds.”
I’ll work to check in with some city commissioners and residents in the neighborhood to find out what they’re thinking about the latest proposal.
We’ll see if talk of traffic calming produces a calming feeling for you on a Monday. I’ve got word of two projects in the works at Lawrence City Hall.
• If you drive in the area behind the new Dillons store at 17th and Massachusetts streets, you may want to get a new set of shocks. Seven speed humps are coming to the neighborhood behind the store.
As part of the store’s City Hall approval last year, Dillons officials agreed to provide $40,000 for traffic calming devices in the neighborhood just east of the store. City officials are now set to begin that project.
Plans call for two speed humps on 17th Terrace between Barker and New Hampshire, and two more on 18th Street between Barker and New Hampshire. In addition, three speed humps are planned for New Hampshire Street, with all planned for the general area near 17th Terrace and 18th Street. Click here to see a map.
The city will accept bids for the project on July 16. Work is expected to begin in late July. Project is expected to be completed by the end of August.
• Red light, green light, yellow light. Blue light? I’m hearing talk around City Hall that Lawrence motorists may start seeing some blue lights at a couple of intersections in Lawrence.
No, I don’t think this is a sign that Kmart is now sponsoring traffic control in the city. (Remember the Blue Light specials in the old Kmarts?) Instead, my understanding is that this is part of a pilot project that involves KU’s engineering school.
I’m still waiting to get official details, but here’s what I’ve heard thus far: Crews, perhaps beginning today, will be installing a blue light on the top of traffic signal poles at 23rd and Iowa and 23rd and Louisiana. The blue light is meant to provide police officers another way to monitor whether motorists are a running a red light.
The idea is that the blue light will be able to be seen from a 360 degree radius. Currently, the best way for a police officer to know whether a motorist has run a red light is to be behind the motorist, where the officer can see both the light and the vehicle. The blue light will come on the moment the traffic signal turns red. Since the blue light can be seen from almost anywhere, an officer can be anywhere near an intersection and monitor it for red light runners.
I’m still a little short on details on the project, but when I hear more, I’ll let you know.
UPDATE: My colleague Ian Cummings is now looking into this story for us. He is reporting that the installation of the lights indeed was scheduled for today, but some technical difficulties have postponed it. No word yet on when the installation may occur, but it might be a few days now.
City clears the way for traffic-calming devices to be installed on 27th Street between Iowa and Louisiana
Here’s a free tip for all those people looking for a new business venture in the future: An auto alignment shop — or maybe a muffler repair business — near the corner of 27th and Iowa streets.
It is beginning to look more likely that the busy stretch of 27th Street between Iowa and Louisiana streets may get a series of speed humps or other traffic-calming devices.
The city has agreed to add 27th Street to the list of areas in the city that are in need of traffic calming. Getting added to that list, however, doesn’t mean traffic-calming devices are going to be built on the street in the near future.
The city currently has 17 such areas on the list, and some have been on the list for years. The city basically says it will start building the projects as funding becomes available, and funding for traffic-calming projects has been a bit hit or miss in previous city budgets.
But David Woosley, the city’s traffic engineer, told city commissioners recently that the combination of traffic speed, volume and the number of pedestrians along 27th Street causes the stretch of road to rise to No. 1 on the city’s list of traffic-calming priorities.
So, it will be worth watching if funding develops. I would guess that the next time 27th Street gets repaved that the city strongly will consider adding speed humps as part of the repaving project. The city has found the traffic-calming work becomes cheaper if it can be incorporated with another project.
Traffic calming on 27th Street will be significant. The city is estimating that the one mile stretch of street will need about six traffic-calming devices in order to be effective. The city is estimating the cost of the project to be about $90,000.
City commissioners briefly discussed the traffic-calming request — which came from a leader of the Indian Hills Neighborhood Association — and approved the idea on a 5-0 vote.
I have a particular member of my household who uses that stretch of road to get to the shops on South Iowa Street from time to time to time to time. (You get the idea.) I’m sure speed humps would create some noise in my house. Perhaps not slower speeds, but noise — like the kind you hear when your muffler has been knocked off by a speed hump.