Henry T’s closes Lawrence bar, restaurant after 32 years, but seeking new home; new Mexican restaurant opens; signs of a new Starbucks

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

The Henry T's building is pictured near Sixth Street and Kasold Drive on June 5, 2023.

News and notes from up and down Sixth Street:

• More than 30 years of Lawrence restaurant tradition hangs in the balance. The longtime westside restaurant and bar Henry’s T’s announced on Monday that it has closed its lone Lawrence location near Sixth and Kasold.

But the restaurant hopes to find a new location in Lawrence to reopen the establishment that was known for its wings, burgers and beer.

“In just these few hours since our announcement, I’ve already been contacted about some locations that are coming available,” Sean Gerrity, an owner of Henry T’s told me in a brief text conversation Monday afternoon.

Henry T’s has been in operation in Lawrence for 32 years, making it one of the older remaining restaurants in the city. Gerrity, though, said the costs of operating the bar and restaurant at 3520 W. Sixth Street were becoming more expensive.

“We, like many of our peers, are experiencing rent escalations, labor shortages, and product increases,” Gerrity said on Facebook. “And, because our business never fully rebounded, are forced to make this very difficult decision.”

In addition to the burgers, wings and other house-made specials, Henry T’s was different than most establishments because it also owned its own brewery. Back in 2014, Gerrity was part of a venture to open Yankee Tank Brewery. That brewery’s lineup of craft beers was featured at Henry T’s, although they were also available for purchase more widely in the area.

But Yankee Tank announced in April via social media that it was closing its brewery operations due to the “current environment and recent global events.”

As for Henry T’s, Gerrity didn’t provide any information about where and what type of new location he’s seeking, or how long it may take to determine whether Henry T’s will be able to reopen in Lawrence. However, the Henry T’s name will continue on. The business has operated a location in Topeka for quite some time, and Gerrity said that restaurant — which is near the Washburn campus — will continue to operate.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Flip’d by IHOP is shown at 4661 Bauer Farm Drive on June 5, 2023.

• The unmowed grass is taller than a stack of flapjacks at this point, which you knew wasn’t a great sign for the future of one west Lawrence breakfast establishment.

Flip’d, the fast food creation from the owners IHOP, has closed not only its Lawrence location in Bauer Farms but has pulled the plug on the entire concept nationwide.

The Lawrence restaurant has not had any activity for the last few weeks, but it also had not made an official announcement that it was out of business. Now, word has come from the corporate leaders at IHOP that Flip’d has run its course.

Several restaurant industry trade journals are reporting that IHOP has ended what it called a pilot project to test the concept of more breakfast to go items and quicker turnaround times for consumers who may not have the time to partake in a traditional sit down breakfast meal that is the staple of the IHOP brand.

“The Flip’d by IHOP concept was piloted to test and learn how to make the guest experience for off-premise dining more enjoyable,” an IHOP spokesperson told the trade journal Restaurant Business . “Our learnings from this pilot will inform how we iterate going forward.”

Lawrence will always have a special place in Flip’d history. The store at 4661 Bauer Farm Drive opened in late September of 2021. As I reported at the time, the restaurant had everything from breakfast sandwiches to burritos. But perhaps its biggest innovation was what it called a pancake bowl. After initially getting excited that it was going to be breakfast’s version of a taco shell bowl, it became clear it was simply pancakes served in a bowl, which made them more portable.

The idea never really caught on within IHOP itself. Restaurant Business reported that only four Flip’d stores across the country were ever opened.

No word on what may take the place of Flip’d, whose building is located right along Sixth Street, about a block east of the busy Wakarusa Drive intersection.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

The Jimador Mexican restaurant is pictured at the shopping center at the southwest corner of Sixth Street and Kasold Drive on June 5, 2023.

• Not all news these days is about restaurants closing. There are still plenty of people who have the dream of making it big in the Lawrence market, and one is betting on a really big burrito to help its cause. Well, and a really big shelf of tequila may provide an assist.

Right across the street from Henry T’s — in the shopping center with Westlake Hardware and Astros Billiards — El Jimador Tacos and Tequila has opened its doors.

The Mexican restaurant is a full-service, sit-down style establishment, and it hopes to make a niche for itself as one of the few sit down Mexican restaurants on the Sixth Street corridor, employee Autumn Emerson said.

The restaurant is trying to make its calling card a really big burrito, which shares a name with the restaurant. The Jimador burrito features grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, chorizo, beans, and rice, and is toped with spinach cheese sauce and a tomatillo sauce.

“It is huge,” Emerson said.

The restaurant also offers a Burrito Americano, which is also stuffed full of meat, but includes the important American tradition of of bacon.

There are plenty of traditional Tex-Mex dishes on the menu that you expect to find at a Mexican restaurant in America, and there are a few fusion dishes as well. For example, one of the quesadillas features Parmesan cheese with sliced avocado. If that isn’t enough fusion for you, there’s also a BBQ ranch quesadilla, featuring chicken, Monterey Jack cheese and a “BBQ ranch sauce.” (I’m not sure what you cross a cowboy with to get the combination, but I’ll keep an eye out in the barn.)

Maybe you cross it with the top shelf behind the bar at El Jimador. That is where the tequila part of the restaurant’s name is on full display. The bar currently has about 20 different brands of tequila in its inventory. Emerson said the restaurant is going through a testing period of tequila brands, with the help of customers.

“If people like a brand, we’ll keep it, and if they don’t, we’ll replace it with a different brand,” Emerson said. “So it will never be boring.”

If the idea of a Mexican restaurant branding itself around tacos and tequila sounds familiar in Lawrence, you might be thinking of Molcajetes in downtown Lawrence. If so, the idea worked. Emerson said El Jimador is owned by the same operators of Molcajetes, which also announced some time ago that they were planning on opening a smaller taco and tequilla-oriented restaurant in downtown. In May 2022, the owners of Molcajetes announced they were going to open Loco Lime in the former location of Wa Japanese restaurant at 740 Massachusetts Street.

Emerson said it is her understanding that venture is still proceeding, but she did not have an update on the project.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

El Jimador Mexican restaurant features sit down service and a full bar.

• Finally, a construction fence is up around the former Cadillac Ranch location at Sixth Street and Crestline Drive. We reported in August 2022 that Starbucks planned to build a new store at the location. It has been a long time in the making, but perhaps the construction fencing is a sign that project will soon begin.

The plans filed at City Hall called for 2,200-square-foot coffee shop with both sit-down service and a drive-thru.


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