Food for thought
Lexington Plaza owners opening bar and grill to address demand
The former Simple Simon's restaurant on Lexington Avenue will open next month as a bar and grill that will cater to the evening dinner business that escaped the closed pizza place.
Joe Rawie said he and Tim Fisher, the co-owner of Lexington Plaza, would open JT's Grill and Sports Bar in the 4,000 square feet space of the closed pizza parlor. The hope is the restaurant will attach the every day crowd that eluded the closed eatery.
"We're going to offer steaks, hamburgers, pasta, shrimp -- something for everybody," he said. "We're going to try to offer something not available in this town. Tim and I like to do things for the town we live in."
The owners are currently working to get the needed permits and licenses in place, Rawie said. They are hoping to open the third or fourth week in September.
Much progress has already been made, said Michelle Harris, who will manage the restaurant. She hired the chef Sunday, a Eudora man with eight years of experience who recently moved from Nebraska, she said.
Word leaked out in De Soto that something was opening at the site before a sign went up last week, Harris said. But the story wasn't quite right.
"Rumors went around town we were opening a club," she said. "People were looking in the windows, trying to see where the dance floor was going to be."
There will be no dance floor, and the emphasis will be on a family -- not bar -- atmosphere, Harris said. It will cater to what she, Rawie and Fisher heard other people in De Soto or nearby communities thought the community needed.
"We talked thoroughly to a great number of people -- strangers to family friends," Harris said. "Everybody said the same thing, 'A good restaurant.'
"We put the responses together, and this is what we came up with."
JT's will be much like Set'Em Up Jacks on Kansas Highway 10 in east Lawrence, Harris said, although it will be smaller and a wee bit more formal with wait staff in uniform, she said.
There will be a focus on good service, said Harris, who used to manage the wait staff at Jumpin' Catfish in Olathe and also worked for Maria's in Eudora. The business will employ 20 to 25 people between the wait staff and kitchen, she said.
Opening hours have been set but closing times will be determined by demand, Harris said. JT's will open at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, and open at 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday with a breakfast menu.
The restaurant will open with 4,000 square feet of the 5,500 square feet Simple Simon's Pizza used. The remaining space is up for lease, but if a tenant isn't found and the restaurant proves popular, it might expand into the space, Harris said.
Rawie and Fisher will be starting another joint venture soon, Rawie said. A year ago, the two secured a site plan for the 5,000 square feet Lexington Center commercial building between Morse's Market and the funeral home. Rawie said construction should start on that building within 30 days. He has talked with a number of interested tenants, but nothing was firm, he said.
"Usually that doesn't happen until they see sticks in the air," he said.