Jefferson's loyalists may have to wait a bit longer for their chicken wings, it appears.
Jefferson's has been closed since a Jan. 15 fire damaged the building’s roof and rear, and earlier this month, my colleague Caitlin Doornbos reported that owner Brandon Graham was planning to reopen the restaurant today.
But as of this morning, the reopening date has been pushed to Wednesday, Graham says. He says the original date wasn’t “set in stone,” but that a few small delays — such as Black Hills Energy not restoring gas in time, allegedly — did contribute to the change.
Wednesday’s grand reopening, slated for 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., will feature several giveaways (t-shirts, glassware and more, Graham says) plus a contest for customers to guess how many dollar bills lined Jefferson’s walls before the fire. Whoever guesses closest to the tally, which was taken before the ruined bills were removed, will win free hot wings for a year.
Besides wings, folks can expect a few new additions to the menu as well.
“I’d like to keep that element of surprise,” Graham says, declining to give further details.
The restaurant itself has a new look — new flooring in the lobby, open ceilings and some remodeling in the kitchen — that Graham says will make Jefferson’s more energy-efficient.
He says the eatery retained a “healthy 60 percent” of its pre-fire staff, but he’s still looking for more help in the kitchen.
Jefferson’s is sticking to hours of operation of 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Graham says he may contemplate late-night hours on weekends down the road, but for right now, he’s just concentrating on getting the restaurant back on its feet.
“We’re obviously very happy to be back,” Graham says. “It’s been a long road.”
Lawrence, apparently, is a town that loves its doughnuts. It's a love that, when said doughnuts are offered up for free on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon at the now-closed Pachamamas patio, reaches biblical proportions.
"It was like a plague of locusts," Ladybird Diner owner Meg Heriford tells two women approaching her makeshift doughnut-giveaway area. Other doughnut seekers follow, and Heriford has to break the news to them, too: "Sorry, they're all gone."
Less than 30 minutes after announcing via Twitter that she would be giving away doughnuts "all you can carry" to anyone, all 400 of Heriford's colorful confections had been snatched up, leaving only crumbs on the sidewalk as proof of their existence.
Ladybird Diner was forced to close after a March 3 fire at its neighbor Bigg's on Mass. Since then, crews have been working to remove smoke damage and replace interior furnishings.
Luckily for foodies, Heriford has spent that time "fine-tuning" her menu, and has rented out Pachamamas to use as a test kitchen for the newest addition to Ladybird: doughnuts.
Heriford is taking an optimistic approach to the fire fallout, saying it has given her time to figure out how many doughnuts she'll need to churn out in order to keep up with demand when her restaurant opens back up later this summer. She declined to give a specific date, though she expects it to happen by the time college students are back in town.
She's kept her hand in the Lawrence dining scene during the interim period, selling Ladybird pies at The Bourgeois Pig for about a month earlier this summer, and also delivering doughnuts to local nonprofit organizations via her "doughnut mobile" in honor of National Doughnut Day on June 5.
In the meantime, Heriford said there will be more doughnut giveaways in the future.
Her lemon-filled doughnuts were a hit at Tuesday's event, which Heriford described as a dress rehearsal for when the doughnuts' debut at Ladybird. Other flavors leaned toward the traditional (chocolate cake doughnuts, coconut, peanut butter, and several varieties of old-fashioned, from vanilla to blackberry to salted caramel) while some were more wacky.
The "Triple-Decker Birthday" variety, for example, entailed three doughnuts stacked on top of each other — Heriford particularly enjoyed watching people figure out how to eat that one.
"We've got a good idea of what it'll take to produce a case full of doughnuts," Heriford says. "But I think pie will always be the star of the show. Pie is what we do."