Debbie Ball likes attending outdoor music concerts behind Grinders in the urban East Crossroads. She just doesn’t want them across from her suburban backyard.
Nothing personal, she says. She likes Grinders’ pizza and she was pretty happy when she first heard a second location might open just across from her Lenexa backyard, in the former Kieltyka’s Stonewall Inn complex.
The property, at 10240 Pflumm Road, harkens back to a another era with its three white-shingled/red roofed house-like structures and stone fence. Stonewall Inn, which operated for more than 30 years before closing in 2012, mostly catered to families.
But the new Grinders Roadhouse will be much more than a family-friendly pizza place.
According to plans submitted to Lenexa, Grinders Roadhouse would include a “more active outdoor entertainment space.” The western-most building would be converted to a bar with restrooms for the outdoor events, and the other two buildings would be restaurants. It would have a small stage and sculptural artwork throughout the property, including a sculptural fence along Pflumm. .
Grinders’ Roadhouse intends to offer small events Thursday, Friday and/or Saturday evenings, events that could include family activities, sports, private parties and occasionally live music, but not to exceed a crowd of 300 people.
It’s a place where customers will be able to tap their “toes to the rockin’ roadhouse sound,” according to information neighboring residents said they received from Grinders.
Sculptor and entrepreneur, Jeff “Stretch” Rumaner, who owns side-by-side downtown operations, Grinders and Grinders West, and who has put the investors in place for the new suburban Grinders, has tried to placate his new neighbors. He said Grinders Roadhouse will be a restaurant.
But some neighbors also complained that they received short or little notice of a public meeting. A sign posted on the property announced a mid-January planning commission meeting that was open to public discussion. But, some residents said it was soon on the ground where passerbys couldn’t see it. On Monday the sign was still there, face down on the ground.
Some residents have also expressed concerns about noise levels and parking issues. But Rumaner said he has plenty of parking, including about 50 spaces currently on the site, 31 more spaces in a grass paver system to be installed on the west side of the property and shared parking agreements with nearby property owners.
Still, according to the city, all eight property owners within 200 feet of the Grinders property have signed a protest petition. So the plan will require the approval of seven City Council members, as opposed to five, when it goes before the council at 7 p.m. next Tuesday. The mayor can allow for public comments at the meeting.
“I hope they are just blowing things out of proportion…that it is really just going to be this restaurant and not a full blown concert place,” said John Gipson, who can see the Grinders property from his backyard on a hill overlooking 103rd street. “The afterhours are what I am more concerned about. It’s like when a car is in front of your house with a big booming stereo and you can’t wait until it drives off. But then it stays for hours.”
Rumaner warns that if he doesn’t open Grinders Roadhouse then someone else could bulldoze those buildings and put in a Burger King or a strip mall.
As for Stretch’s claim to be a family-friendly restaurant serving “tater tots for gosh sakes.”
Ball’s take on that?
“Have you seen his menu? They’re called ‘Big Ass Tots.’ Does that sound family friendly?”