Posts tagged with Basil Leaf Cafe

Waffle Iron sets re-opening dates, serving up chicken and waffles in meantime; La Prima Tazza to unveil new menu

Listen up, waffle enthusiasts. I’ve got two big pieces of Waffle Iron-related news to share with you.

Let’s start with the most important bit. The popular breakfast spot, which closed earlier this summer for renovations, will re-open Saturday, Sept. 5.

Owner/chef Sam Donnell confirmed the date earlier this week. The Waffle Iron, located in the space above John Brown Underground at 7 East Seventh St., will carry on with its original hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, he says.

If you’re looking for a job that indulges your waffle-loving tendencies, you might consider applying at the Waffle Iron. At least that’s what Facebook is telling me. “Servers, waffle makers, and dish” (I’m assuming that’s dishwashers?) are needed, so if you think you’ve got what it takes, send your resume to

Donnell also shared some juicy (literally) tidbits of this Sunday’s chicken-and-waffles brunch at the Basil Leaf Café, 616 W. Ninth St.

Slated for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the event comes on the heels of Donnell’s first “insane” pop-up event at the Basil Leaf — that one drew a “line around the building” on Aug. 16, he says.

“This time, we’re trying to do our interpretation of a classic, home-style Southern chicken and waffles,” Donnell says. Apparently, that means “a little spicy, a little sweet, a little bourbon.”

On Sunday, Donnell and Basil Leaf owner/chef Brad Walters will serve up buttermilk cornmeal waffles topped with fried chicken marinated in hot sauce.

They’ll also have some pretty inventive condiments on hand, including: bacon pecan peppered caramel compound butter; brown sugar maple bacon butter with bourbon; and a green-chili maple syrup.

As for sides, Donnell says they’re loading each plate with “classic home fries,” local peaches and brown-butter cream with candied bacon.

Based on the Waffle Iron’s last pop-up, he’s expecting to sell out. So, come early. No reservations at this shindig.

La Prima Tazza to serve up streamlined menu, treats inspired by Far East

In other timely dining news, La Prima Tazza will unveil its updated menu this weekend.

Customers should see the “simplified” chalkboard above the shop’s counter when La Prima Tazza, 638 Massachusetts St., opens at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

Not to worry, coffee fans: “No one’s going to be losing anything,” manager Rob Schulte says. “All their favorites are still available.”

My fellow tea drinkers/Japanophiles should appreciate Schulte’s new additions to the menu, which include no less than “four or five” specialty matcha drinks, he says.

If you’re not excited by the thought of coconut-mango iced matchas, matcha lattes, mocha matchas and matcha macchiato coming to La Prima Tazza very soon, here’s a little video that should get you there:


Waffle Iron returns with popup this weekend; Basil Leaf Cafe to start serving breakfast

If the Waffle Iron’s recent hiatus has left you in a waffle withdrawal, you’re in luck. Sam Donnell, owner and waffle wizard, has announced plans of a popup this weekend at the Basil Leaf Café, 616 W. Ninth St.

The Waffle Iron, which shares the space above John Brown’s Underground with the bar, closed temporarily in late June for kitchen renovations — a move that had been in the works long before The Waffle Iron moved in about three months ago. But Donnell says they’ve taken longer than expected (something about securing a building permit, he guesses), and with no solid reopening date in sight, he’s “aching to make waffles” again.

For Sunday’s popup (that’s from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., no reservations necessary), Donnell says he’s planning a menu of “classic Waffle Iron” selections.

“Nothing too crazy,” he promises. “It’ll be a chance for everybody to reconnect and get some damn waffles.”

The Hank Benedict (also known as the Waffle Benedict) and Donnell’s popular brown sugar maple bacon waffle are pretty much guaranteed, but much of the “summertime” menu will depend on what’s available at the Lawrence Farmers Market, Donnell says.

The Waffle Benedict at The Waffle Iron, 920 Delaware St.

The Waffle Benedict at The Waffle Iron, 920 Delaware St. by Richard Gwin

Right now, he’s looking forward to seeing if pal Brad Walters' space “has enough juice to handle my iron.” Yes, he really did say that.

Donnell, who says he’s still using The Waffle Iron for private events, is tentatively partnering up with Walters again for a chicken-and-waffles night at the Basil Leaf sometime down the road. According to the Basil Leaf Cafe's Facebook page, it's looking like Aug. 30, though Donnell himself didn't give out a date.

Also on the radar: a possible taco-waffle mashup event inspired by Southern California-style taquerías. Donnell’s been developing a recipe for a cornmeal-based waffle over the last few months that he says pairs nicely with Latin flavors and withstands the weight of “a big pile of carnitas on top of it.”

No word yet on when we can eat carnitas out of a waffle, but I’ll certainly keep you updated.

Breakfast at Basil Leaf

In other Basil Leaf Café news, owner/chef Brad Walters has confirmed plans of a future breakfast menu at the Italian eatery.

It’s something Walters used to offer at the Basil Leaf’s original location (a Phillips 66 gas station along Sixth Street) and has been toying with for a while since opening up at 616 W. Ninth St. in 2013.

Walters says he’s hoping to capitalize on Lawrence’s love of breakfast spots, which despite their prevalence here, often still result in overflow on weekend mornings.

“I think we can pull some of that crowd and bring something unique to the scene that you’re not going to see anywhere else,” Walters says.

He’s still tweaking the roster now, which he says will probably debut next week, but was able to offer a few tantalizing tidbits — namely, French toast made with cinnamon rolls soaked in caramel-apple brandy.

Also, expect biscuits and gravy, plus a “wide variety” of omelets and a few daily specials. There will also be self-serve stations for coffee, juice and milk.

Walters says he isn't sure about the breakfast menu's official debut. He did confirm breakfast hours, though, at least tentatively: 7 to 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.


And the next restaurant in the Sixth Street gas station will be …

The Basil Leaf Café is the most recent restaurant to occupy the Phillips 66 Gas Station.

The Basil Leaf Café is the most recent restaurant to occupy the Phillips 66 Gas Station. by rgwin

Basil Leaf Cafe has barely launched out of its original home inside the Miller Mart at 3300 W. Sixth St., and plans for the gas station’s next restaurant are already underway.

Basil Leaf left Miller Mart in August and opened about two weeks ago in its first standalone home, the former Joe’s Bakery spot at 616 W. Ninth St. (More on that Thursday — watch for it here on

Robert Douglas took over the lease for the entire convenience store and closed the building for renovations last week. The convenience store half should reopen this weekend, he said, and he hopes to open his planned restaurant in November.

The name will be D-Lux Southern Fried Chicken, and in addition to fried chicken (obviously) Douglas plans to cook up comfort food such as braised greens, pickled beets and baked macaroni and cheese. He’s moved the counter formerly home to the convenience store’s frozen drink machines to significantly increase the size of the dining room, and he plans to reopen the restaurant’s drive-thru window.

Douglas said he’s worked at hotels, restaurants and private clubs — including a golf and recreational property where one of the seven dining outlets was a pizzeria in a convenience store — in several other states. While living in California, he said he met Jeff Stehney, owner of Kansas City’s famous Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Que (yep, their original location’s in a Kansas City, Kan., gas station), who suggested he check out our area.

Originally, Douglas said, he and his partner were looking at spaces in Kansas City. But the Sixth Street Miller Mart with it’s little restaurant on the side — where before Basil Leaf, Tortas Jalisco and Biemer’s BBQ also started before successfully moving into standalone properties — piqued his interest.

“That’s what drew us here, because we think it’s pretty cool,” Douglas said. “This thing’s a gold mine — we love this place.”

Tips welcome!

Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at or contact me on Twitter @saramarieshep. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.

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Coming soon (very soon): Merchants Pub, new-and-improved Basil Leaf Cafe

Interior of the new Basil Leaf Cafe. Contributed photo from Basil Leaf Cafe.

Interior of the new Basil Leaf Cafe. Contributed photo from Basil Leaf Cafe. by Sara Shepherd

UPDATE (2 p.m. Tuesday): Pushed back again! A new press release from Merchants says that instead of Thursday, they'll open at 11 a.m. Saturday.

UPDATE (4:30 p.m. Monday): Merchants will open for business at 11 a.m. Thursday, according to a press release that just came in. Reservations can be made online at or by calling the restaurant at 785-843-4111. “At Merchants you’ll find an upscale pub atmosphere featuring food inspired by the region,” co-owner Philip Wilson said in the announcement. "Our doors are open to all who wish to eat and drink well."

Merchants Pub and Plate, the new gastropub in the former Teller’s location at 746 Massachusetts St., plans to open this week. Merchants has one inspection down and two to go, according to an update today on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Merchants originally hoped to open in mid-August, but as restaurant openings are wont to do, that date got pushed back. Owners said last week they are now hoping to open Wednesday (see "UPDATE," above), as long as the final inspections go as planned.

Philip Wilson and chef TK Peterson, formerly chef at the Oread, own the new restaurant. See their latest updates at, where I’m sure they’ll post the firm opening day as soon as it’s official.

Meanwhile, Basil Leaf Cafe is putting finishing touches on its new location in the old Joe’s Bakery storefront, 616 W. Ninth St.

“If we’re not open by the weekend, we’ll be open the first of next week no matter what,” owner Brad Walters told me today. Basil Leaf stopped serving in its old home, a corner of the Miller Mart convenience store on Sixth Street, last month to prepare for the move.

Walters has completely transformed the old Joe’s space — for one, knocking out the wall that once confined the public area to the doughnut counter and just enough space to walk back and forth in front of it. It’s now a cozy sit-down restaurant full of rough-hewn wooden tables, pendant lights made of wine bottles and a bar (with a liquor license). In the new, bigger restaurant, Walters plans to expand his menu offerings as well.

Basil Leaf also is posting daily updates on its Facebook page if you want to tune in,

P.S. While we’re talking restaurant musical chairs, if you’re wondering why the big yellow Blissful Bite food truck isn’t serving lunch today at 11th and Massachusetts, they — like a lot of Lawrencians soon will be no doubt — are in Winfield. Any hungry folks reading this from the Walnut Valley Festival, be advised, the Blissful Bite is on the ground now.

Tips welcome!

Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at or contact me on Twitter @saramarieshep. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.