Two years ago, we introduced Pitch readers to the Basil Leaf Cafe, chef Brad Walters' tiny restaurant tucked into a corner of the Miller Mart, a combination convenience store and Phillips 66 gas station at 3300 West Sixth Street in Lawrence. Because the Basil Leaf could seat, barely, 25 people, most of Walters' business was carryout. Even the customers who came to eat in the dining room were served in Styrofoam boxes.
Walters will finally move his restaurant out of the gas station and into its own space next month: the former Joe's Bakery - a once legendary Lawrence venue for its doughnuts - at 616 West Ninth Street. "It's nestled between the campus and downtown Lawrence," says Walters, who has been searching for a new location for over two years.
"I needed to find a space that was financially feasible and wouldn't cost a fortune to overhaul," Walters says.
He's still overhauling the Joe's Bakery space. "We've gutted it," Walters says. "It will double what we've had in the gas station and give us a much larger kitchen. We're using 110-year-old barn wood in the interior."
When the Basil Leaf opens its new space in mid-August, Walters says, the dining room will comfortably seat 45 patrons, who will finally be able to eat Walters' excellent cuisine on real plates - and he'll have a liquor license. "We'll serve some fine wines, some good bourbons and vodka," he says.
"I've worked a long time to get to this point. I'm very excited."