WRITER: Chad Lawhorn

Downtown retailer of nearly 4 decades set to close by year's end

Sometimes it is not a slowdown in sales that causes a business to close. Sometimes it's just that there's no one left to run it. That's the case with a 37-year retailer in downtown Lawrence that will close its doors later this year. Saffees, the women’s clothing boutique at 911 Massachusetts St., will close near the end of the year, co-owner Steve Mercurio recently confirmed to me. Its sister store next ...

New shop brings Munchers cinnamon rolls, plus homemade sweets and cocktails, to downtown

There are sweets of all types at Crystal’s Spot. You can have one of Lawrence’s most famous cinnamon rolls with a side of bourbon. Or you can have a serving of Andre Agassi stories, I’m sure with a side of dreamy. You probably could even negotiate a deal for a new house there. The new eatery above Rudy’s Pizzeria has several twists to it. Lawrence real estate agent Crystal Swearingen is a co-owner of ...

Paul Bunyan, look out: Ax-throwing business to open in downtown Lawrence

I know when I bowl, I’m sometimes required to yell “Fore!” I’m not quite sure what happens when I step up to an ax-throwing lane. We’ll soon find out because a new ax-throwing business is set to open in downtown Lawrence. Matt Baysinger — the Lawrence resident behind the ideas of the Breakout Lawrence escape room and Mass Street Soda Shop — is opening Blade & Timber at 809 Massachusetts St., ...

Plans filed for local butcher shop near Ninth and Iowa streets

If you want handcrafted sausages for your cookout, you could sure try to make them. (I hear it is a great way to avoid handshakes for at least a month.) Or, you could find a butcher shop in the sausage business. It looks like Lawrence is going to get the latter. Plans have been filed for Leeway Franks — the small restaurant that serves up what it calls handcrafted frankfurters, bratwursts and other such ...

A look at the large hotel going next to Rock Chalk Park and the restaurant that will come with it

Hordes of active teenagers next to restaurants is a good money-making strategy. That’s why there was a broad assumption when Sports Pavilion Lawrence opened at Rock Chalk Park in 2014 that restaurants soon would locate near it. Now, nearly four years later, the first restaurant is set to go in next to Rock Chalk Park, but it probably isn’t what you think. A leader with the new Best Western Plus hotel told ...

Hundreds of unsuspecting homeowners may see tax bills rise to pay for northwest Lawrence road project

Several hundred northwest Lawrence homes may get a one-time increase of a few thousand dollars on their property tax bills. The reason? The multiyear debate over how to improve Queens Road, the crumbling road that is adjacent to about $100 million of new northwest Lawrence developments. As I recently reported, I’ve been receiving several questions from readers about what is going on with the Queens Road ...

A look at what's going on at 23rd and O'Connell, plus other news and notes from around town

News and notes from around town: • I had a great crowd come out to Perkins Restaurant earlier this week to ask me a variety of questions as part of a Town Talk Live event. One of the top questions: What is being built at 23rd and O’Connell Drive next to Tractor Supply? Indeed, there are some dirt piles near the southeast corner of the intersection, which is where the long vacant Fairfield Farms ...

Band and orchestra store opens in west Lawrence; Cheech from Cheech and Chong coming to town

I know my kids have the lungs to be the next Louis Armstrong, but that doesn’t mean I want to buy them a trumpet or drive to an out-of-town music store when it needs repair. (No sir, I don’t know how the mouthpiece got sealed with concrete.) Now, Lawrence residents have an in-town option for all that fun. Ernie Williamson Music has opened in the Orchards Shopping Center at Bob Billings Parkway and Kasold ...

LMH to spend $5 million more on west project, says it is exploring options for more East Lawrence care

Local hospital leaders agreed to spend nearly $5 million more on a mega medical building near Rock Chalk Park, but not without questions about whether the hospital was focusing too much on west Lawrence. The Lawrence Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees agreed Wednesday to spend up to $4.45 million to expand the third floor of a planned medical outpatient building that will be constructed near the northeast ...

Home prices continue to soar in Lawrence; will property tax values do the same?

I’m sure my home once increased 15 percent in value — when I moved my art collection of dogs shooting pool from the bank vault to the basement. But a new report shows that even without that type of event, Lawrence home prices are soaring. The latest report from the Lawrence Board of Realtors shows the year-to-date median selling price for Lawrence homes has increased 15.1 percent compared with the same ...

Sales growth in Lawrence continues to slow and to lag behind area communities

I know May used to produce lots of big spending in Lawrence, just with the graduation parties alone. (Mine was a huge surprise party, as in everyone was surprised the envelope actually contained a diploma.) Maybe graduation parties aren’t what they used to be. Regardless, something caused May sales tax totals to be basically flat in Lawrence. Lawrence City Hall officials recently received their July sales ...

Longtime downtown retailer to close in favor of online, pop-up stores

The “pop-up” trend that I’ve long been a fan of involves my toaster and a case of Pop Tarts. But in the retail world, the trend is “pop-up stores,” and it isn’t always as satisfying. Case in point: One of downtown Lawrence’s longest running retailers is closing its doors in favor of the pop-up store model. The owner of the import-export boutique Adorned has announced she is closing the store at 5 ...

Big two-day auction at Ernst & Son Hardware will sell off parts of downtown Lawrence history

There is not a monster in the mysterious basement of the former Ernst & Son Hardware store in downtown Lawrence. Just a Dutch Boy and enough early 1900s shipping crates to contain a Frankenstein, if needed. The contents of the basement of Lawrence’s oldest hardware store have been a mystery for many. It was common for a first-time visitor of the store at 826 Massachusetts St. to gaze upon the ...

Election outlasts governor's watch party; slow-moving Johnson County returns breaking Colyer's way

The band made the most noise at an Overland Park watch party for Gov. Jeff Colyer on Tuesday night. As of midnight, Colyer had not come out to address the crowd at the Overland Park DoubleTree Hotel. A representative of the Johnson County Republican Party said he didn’t expect Colyer to make a speech at the rally, given that election returns still showed the governor was in a virtual dead heat with ...

Analysis: It sure looks like Trump made the difference for Kobach

They say nothing good happens after midnight. That certainly was true for Gov. Jeff Colyer in the primary election for Kansas governor. But perhaps more important is that nothing good happens after about midday Monday. That’s when President Donald Trump endorsed Colyer’s main rival, Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The newly released numbers indicate Johnson County voters took Trump’s endorsement to ...

Justice Matters says it will actively oppose mental health sales tax if county doesn't rein in dollar amount

The faith-based group Justice Matters has successfully led one opposition campaign to a Douglas County sales tax proposal. A leader of the group today told me the organization is prepared to lead another one, if needed. While voters in today’s primary elections are focused on races for governor, Congress and other high-profile positions, attention soon will turn to a countywide tax election that Douglas ...

Schwab wins Kansas secretary of state primary, will face Lawrence resident McClendon

Lawrence resident Brian McClendon now knows his opponent in the November race for Kansas Secretary of State. Republican Scott Schwab declared victory around 11 p.m. Tuesday night and immediately began campaigning against McClendon’s California connections. “Our opponent is a Democrat who has been a conduit for California money to invest in Kansas elections,” Schwab said of McClendon, who grew up in ...

As 2-year anniversary nears, East Lawrence's Bon Bon! eyes expansion

The popular East Lawrence bistro Bon Bon! can be a bit Brr, Brr during the winter. That’s a prime reason the restaurant has filed expansion plans that include a new kitchen and a new enclosed seating area. The restaurant at 804 Pennsylvania St. currently uses as its kitchen a food truck that is parked next to the old stone building that houses the actual restaurant. The plans also seek permission to enclose ...

Old Applebee's building being demolished; car wash set to take its place

I don’t know if it is true that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but I can attest that an Applebee’s falls wherever the big backhoe tells it to. Motorists in west Lawrence this morning are noticing that the former Applebee’s at Sixth and Monterey Way is being torn down. No, the demolition doesn’t have anything to do with the mess I left the last time the restaurant had all-you-can-eat ...

Work shut down on west Lawrence senior housing project after company goes out of business

This is the time dozens of residents were supposed to be moving into a unique multimillion-dollar west Lawrence housing project for people 62 and over. Instead, work has been stopped after the project’s construction company suddenly went out of business. Construction work has been halted since July 3 at the Village Cooperative project at Sixth Street and Queens Road, a representative of the project’s ...