Another chicken chain closes shop in Lawrence, plus rumors of a new taco chain coming to town

photo by: Chad Lawhorn

The former home of Zaxby's chicken restaurant at 4661 Bauer Farm Drive is pictured, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020.

Every time I’ve tried to figure out whether the chicken or the egg came first, I’ve never gotten past the research stage of a plate of scrambled eggs and a basket of chicken fingers. Now, it appears my research is going to be even more difficult. One of Lawrence’s relatively new chain chicken restaurants has closed.

Zaxby’s hung a sign on the door of its lone Lawrence location at 4661 Bauer Farm Drive announcing that the restaurant had closed.

“This is a strategic business decision based on several factors, including business performance and local market conditions,” the sign read.

If you remember, there has been an explosion of chain chicken restaurants in Lawrence over the last five years. In what seemed like rapid succession, Chick-fil-A, Popeye’s, Zaxby’s, Raising Cane’s, Wing Stop and two locations for Slim Chickens all located in Lawrence.

Now, we are starting to see some of the entrants fly the coop. In July, we reported that Slim Chickens closed its restaurant at 2412 Iowa St., less than two years after it constructed the building. The nearly new structure remains vacant.

South Iowa indeed is the most crowded corridor for chicken, but the Zaxby’s closing hits northwest Lawrence. The Zaxby’s was in the Bauer Farm development across from Free State High School and near the intersection of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.

If you weren’t familiar with Zaxby’s, it was all about chicken fingers — or breaded, boneless chicken breasts, if you are the type who is particular about chicken anatomy. (I’ve always said I would never want the person who named them chicken “fingers” giving me a manicure.) It featured lots of different sandwiches and baskets full of chicken fingers, plus many different sauces. If you have a gift certificate or just a hankering for Zaxby’s, it looks like the nearest location is one near the Legends shopping center in Kansas City, Kan., or on Strang Line Road in Olathe.

I’ll keep an eye out for any signs of a new business taking over the Zaxby’s location.

In other news and notes from around town:

• Maybe tacos will be the next chicken. At least, I’m hearing word that a taco chain plans to fill one of the long-empty restaurant buildings on south Iowa Street. Sources tell me that Torchy’s Tacos is planning to locate along south Iowa Street in one of the vacant restaurant buildings on that corridor.

I caution you that I haven’t gotten confirmation from the restaurant chain yet. However, Torchy’s Tacos has been running help wanted ads online for a management position for a Lawrence restaurant for many weeks now. A well-placed source in the restaurant industry told me that south Iowa Street is the spot. I’ll hold off on mentioning the exact location until I get a bit more info.

As for what to expect once it gets here, it looks like the restaurant has more than a dozen different lunch and dinner tacos, with fillings such as beef and pork, but also ones like fried avocado, Baja shrimp, and even salmon. The restaurant’s website also lists more than 10 breakfast tacos, plus several bowls and other offerings.

It looks like the restaurant got its start in Austin, Texas, according to the company’s website. The website also indicates this would be the first Torchy’s in Kansas. When I get more solid information on the company and its plans for Lawrence, I’ll report back.

• I might as well pass along one other piece of chain restaurant news. You perhaps already saw that the Goodcents sandwich shop at 23rd and Louisiana streets closed in recent weeks. That leaves one Goodcents left in Lawrence. It is located at Bob Billings Parkway and Kasold Drive, and it has some news of its own.

The west Lawrence restaurant is one of the locations the chain has chosen for an early rollout of its new menu. The chain, which is actually based in De Soto, long has been focused on sub sandwiches and pasta dishes. But it now is rolling out a new delivery and pickup service called Goodcents to Go. That involves broadening the menu, according to a release from the company.

New dishes include a Southern-style meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans, a classic pot roast, and grilled Alaskan salmon.

No word on what may be going into the old Goodcents location at 23rd and Louisiana.


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