Big new bar opens in downtown with kitchen on the way and plans to have rooftop seating
photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo
Sports are big business in Lawrence. College partying is even bigger. A new downtown Lawrence bar and restaurant plans to get in on both industries, and soon may have at least three floors of space — including a rooftop seating area — to do it from.
Logie’s on Mass has opened at 728 Massachusetts St. in the building that used to house the Tonic nightclub, which primarily was known as a college bar.
There’s definitely a college bar vibe to Logie’s, especially after 9 p.m., assistant manager Faith Parent told me. But the establishment is hoping to attract a sizable noncollege crowd for dinner business once Logie’s opens its kitchen in the next month or so, Parent said. Look for that menu to have a heavy dose of pizza, hamburgers and chicken wings, she said.
You know it takes a lot to divert my attention away from pizza, hamburgers and chicken wings, but there’s something going on at Logie’s that can do it — plans for a rooftop beer garden and dining area. There are plenty of college towns where you have your pick of bars and restaurants with rooftop dining and drinking areas. But Lawrence isn’t one of them. The Oread is an example of a hotel that has won that approval, but a multitude of downtown bar owners haven’t ever won approval for a rooftop area on any of the old buildings that line Massachusetts Street.
Parent told me the city already had approved the plans for the rooftop area. However, I checked with Lawrence Planning and Development Services Director Jeff Crick, and he told me that isn’t quite accurate. He said Logie’s has applied for a building permit for the rooftop area, and that permit application is still under review.
These rooftop plans are something I’ll follow up on because I’m sure there is strong interest on the part of other bars and restaurants for a rooftop option. If one is allowed at the 728 Massachusetts property, I could envision several other property owners applying for their permits, and a whole new trend in downtown dining and nightlife.
Parent said the appeal of a rooftop space is great for a place like Logie’s.
“I think it definitely would pull people in for game days,” Parent said. “You just want to be outside on a game day.”
photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo
Logie’s operates in several other college markets where college football game days are big business. Logie’s is based in Austin but also has bars/restaurants in Norman, Okla.; College Station, Texas; Lubbock, Texas; and Dallas.
They may want to put a basketball goal up in Lawrence. I don’t know that a goal is part of the plans, but Parent did say the plans call for a garage-like structure to be built on the roof that would allow for some covered seating while still having the rooftop view.
The plans for the roof, though, are only part of what’s happening at Logie’s. Parent said work also is planned to convert the basement of the building into a “speakeasy.” She said the lower level, which would have its own bar, likely would have a more relaxed vibe, less loud music, and would be available for fraternities, sororities, corporate outings or other groups that would like to rent that part of the venue.
Logie’s hopes to have that part of the business open by the fall when students return for the next school year.
When it is all done, Logie’s certainly will be one of the largest bars in downtown. It seems to lean into the idea of being big. The bar has 18 different beers on tap, and its ground-level floor has about 20 televisions, with more to come as expansion plans are completed.
The project also has been quite a while in the works. I wrote about plans being filed for the establishment in February of 2018.
I never have gotten a lot of information about its owner, though. Back in 2018, I reported the Logie’s chain appears to be owned by a longtime college bar owner by the name of Joe Bendetti. That appears to be the case, as his name was listed on one of the building permit applications as an owner of the 728 Massachusetts St. building.
Work on the project has been underway for a long time, with the facade of the building being covered during most of the construction. I was never in Tonic, so I can’t personally speak to how much has changed, but the renovations appear to be extensive. There’s lots of new wood flooring, a big wooden-trimmed bar, and a mix of brick and cherry or mahogany-like wainscoting on the walls.
Parent said the bar’s owners were looking to create a bar that was different than many of the establishments in the Oread neighborhood, for example.
“They felt like they could add something kind of new to the Lawrence bar scene, and they liked the idea of doing it on Massachusetts Street,” Parent said.
The 728 Massachusetts St. building is one of only a handful where you could do a major bar project. Most properties in downtown are required to make a certain percentage of all their sales in food, if they also sell alcohol. The food percentage requirement was put in place in the 1990s to try to prevent lots of storefronts from becoming bars. Buildings that housed existing bars at the time of the regulation, however, were grandfathered in, meaning those buildings could forever continue to house bars that would not have to meet the food requirement. The 728 Massachusetts St. building is one of those buildings.
But who knows, Logie’s may end up meeting the food requirement anyway. Parent said it plans to keep its kitchen open until 2 a.m. on most nights.
“We think that will be a draw for us,” she said.