Burgers, beers and a whole lot of fries featured at new south Iowa Street restaurant
photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo
The world is beginning to learn that everything is better with mac ‘n cheese on it, which is why I try to keep my face mask full of it at all times. Or, I suppose, it could be easier just to eat it on top of a hamburger. That is one of many specialty options at a south Lawrence restaurant featuring beers and burgers.
Mr. Brews Taphouse recently opened in the spot formerly occupied by BurgerIM in the Pine Ridge Plaza Shopping Center — the one with Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond and other retailers — on south Iowa Street. Jonathan Langford was a co-owner of the BurgerIM franchise, and is a co-owner of the new Mr. Brews Taphouse. He said while both restaurants featured hamburgers, he thinks the new concept is going to be more in line with Lawrence’s tastes.
“For one thing, it is our large selection of beer on tap, and the flavor profile of some of those burgers is just excellent,” Langford said.
The restaurant uses a relatively thick 5.3 ounce Hereford beef patty for the base of all its burgers. You can keep it simple with a classic cheese burger or maybe a traditional mushroom and Swiss creation. But the menu also features more than a half-dozen specialty burgers. The bacon mac ‘n cheese burger probably isn’t the wildest of that bunch.
In the running for that is jalapeño popper burger that features a cream cheese spread with jalapeños. Also in the running is a California burger with guacamole and roasted red bell pepper sauce, or a Brews-chetta burger that features tomato bruschetta and basil pesto mayo. And then there is the Mr. Brews Peanut Buster. As the name suggests, its big ingredient is peanut butter.
Langford said a local favorite, though, appears to be the Kentucky Bourbon Classic. It features a Kentucky bourbon mayo spread. (Maybe the idea of drinking bourbon out of a Hellmann’s jar will become chic after all.) All the burgers also come in a black bean vegetarian version.
The menu also includes salads, chicken wings and a couple of items that pay homage to the chain’s Wisconsin roots: cheese curds and pretzels and beer cheese. The restaurant was allowed to keep a couple of popular items from its BurgerIM menu, including the onion rings and milkshakes, Langford said.
The restaurant also believes in choices when it comes to fries. It has regular fresh-cut fries, shoestring fries, sweet potato fries and fresh-cut potato chips, Langford said.
On the beer front, Langford said the restaurant will feature 34 different craft beers on tap, stretching across the beer spectrum from lagers to IPAs to stouts to sours.
Langford is a Lawrence native who has worked in multiple Lawrence restaurants over the years, getting his start in the old Pancho’s Mexican restaurant in The Malls Shopping Center at 23rd and Louisiana streets.
He brought BurgerIM to Lawrence in late 2018, but said he started looking for a different franchise partner months ago after the California-based BurgerIM started having problems at the corporate level. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in February asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the franchise over allegations that it employed deceptive sales practices in signing up new franchisees. Reportedly, the company’s CEO fled the country in November.
Langford said it was clear to him that he wanted to be part of a different franchise company. Mr. Brews is a chain, but not a large one. The company got started in 2013 in Weston, Wis. The chain still has only about 15 locations, and the Lawrence location and an Overland Park location that Langford also is a co-owner of, are the first two in Kansas.