Old Quinton’s location in downtown set to become Mass Street’s newest cocktail lounge
photo by: Shutterstock
At times, it seems like beer has taken over the world. There are sports bars with beer taps measured by the dozen, liquor stores with beer coolers the size of a small house and, of course, there are plenty of Lawrence neighborhoods where a forklift would be handy to take out the recycling bin of aluminum cans.
But there are also those entrepreneurs who like the idea of going against the grain — perhaps even with a grain. I’m thinking a rye, and of course, ice.
Yes, I’m talking about cocktails. Downtown Lawrence soon will have a new cocktail bar. The bar’s name is Local, and it is expected to open in the next couple of weeks in the space at 615 Massachusetts St., which previously housed Quinton’s for decades, and more recently was home to Mass Street Ale House.
While Local will focus on cocktails rather than beer, it is going to take one idea from the beer world. It will serve many of its cocktails on tap. In other words, the bar will have a menu of cocktails that are still house-made, but will be made in batches and be readily available to be poured versus the more traditional method of each drink being individually made.
Owner and operator Roger Glas, a 30-year veteran of the restaurant and bar industry, told me he likes the idea on a number of fronts. One, it will provide a certain level of consistency in the making of the drinks, and it will allow the bar to buy liquor at bulk discount prices, which will help keep the drinks more affordable.
But the third reason might be the most appealing: samples. With the cocktails on tap, the bar will be able to pour you a short cocktail so that you can sample it and see if it is to your liking. (For a variety of reasons it is tough to make a minicocktail individually, in part because it is so hard to find a saw small enough to shorten a swizzle stick.)
Glas plans to have eight to 10 cocktails on tap at any given time, and plans to rotate the selections as the season or tastes change. Cocktails on tap have been popular for drinks like margaritas and daiquiris for a long time, but Glas said he plans to have a much wider variety.
For example, he said plans call for an Old-Fashioned cocktail to be part of the tap offerings. It also may be an example of an “innovative cocktail,” which Glas said would be part of the offerings, in addition to classics.
In the case of the Old-Fashioned, he said an innovative take on that may include an orange-spiced version of the traditional bourbon-based drink.
“The innovative part will be to take something a little outdated and bring it up to date with current trends in the liquor industry,” Glas said.
Glas has been keeping up with those trends as a consultant for the restaurant and bar industry. He may be best known in Lawence as a partner of The Library, a former bar, grill and parental obfuscation that operated on Massachusetts Streets years ago. By 2003, though, Glas had moved to Colorado, where he was a partner in bars and coffee shops in the greater Denver area.
Eventually, he got into the finance world, which led him back to Kansas in 2019. When COVID hit, he began helping some friends in the restaurant industry who were trying to keep their businesses alive.
Despite how the pandemic had wrecked the restaurant industry, Glas began to realize that he wanted back into the business. He said he kind of likes change, and the pandemic was an event that forced change upon anyone who wanted to be successful.
“I know the service industry probably will never go out of style,” Glas said of his decision. “You just have to evolve and innovate. The ones who are willing to do that and do it ahead of the industry are the ones who will succeed and have fun.”
There was one part of the service industry, though, that Glas didn’t want to get back into, at least not currently. That is the food business. He said the food industry is “still a mess” following the pandemic, so he backed away from plans to have a kitchen as part of Local. That may come later, with a menu of sandwiches, salads and other such offerings.
But for now, the cocktails — plus house wines and a few beers — will be the focus. He plans to have music too, but not the live variety. Glas envisions various theme nights — maybe ’90s boy bands on one night, old-school country on another, or jazz on yet a different evening. The music will be in the background, though, giving guests a comfortable environment to visit and converse.
“I keep going back to the idea of a gathering spot,” Glas said of the concept. “It won’t be a nightclub. There won’t be DJs.”
He hopes Local will become a popular place for diners in the downtown area to go after a meal for a “nightcap.” The establishment will have a patio out back, plus it will have a separate bar area on the second floor, which Glas said he would rent out for private parties and events.
“I think we’ll be a great lounge,” he said. “We’ll be a good place to gather with friends.”
photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World