September 25, 2021


For remarkable cuisine

Town Talk | Breakfast options growing, including new Hy-Vee offerings, a west Lawrence IHOP and a downtown vegetarian option | News, Sports, Jobs

photo by: Richard Gwin

The Hy-Vee grocery store at 3504 Clinton Parkway is pictured in this file photo from 2014.

I have breakfast on my mind, which is less of a mess than I usually make with breakfast. There are at least three new developments on the Lawrence breakfast front worth keeping an eye on. Here’s a look:

• I sure hope the “springs” in Blue Springs, Mo., flow with maple syrup. A crew of Hy-Vee employees in Blue Springs made 13,000 pancakes in a single day last week. Why? Well, to get listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest serving of pancakes.

But there was another reason too: The company was looking to draw attention to Hy-Vee’s plans to become a major player in the breakfast restaurant industry. That’s why we may want to care about it in Lawrence. The lone Hy-Vee store in Lawrence, located Clinton Parkway and Kasold Drive, has launched a big new breakfast service in the restaurant portion of the grocery store.

Hy-Vee long has offered breakfast service, but it mainly was a smattering of some traditional bacon-and-egg type dishes. Now, the company has launched a new menu across its entire set of stores that aims to compete with specialty breakfast restaurants.

“We definitely wanted to start using better ingredients and offering more interesting flavor profiles,” Bridget Stanwix, food service director at Lawrence’s Hy-Vee, told me.

The menu includes a half-dozen platter meals, including a ribeye-and-eggs offering. A chicken fried steak and egg meal is also on the menu, along with the traditional offerings of bacon and eggs, biscuits and gravy and a breakfast burrito.

But Stanwix said some of the more popular offerings are expected to be on the sweeter side. The menu features a Berry Bliss French Toast meal that includes strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and mascarpone that is covered with berry syrup, vanilla drizzle and whipped cream. The menu also includes waffles, with a Nutella banana waffle and a sweet cream waffle.

Stanwix, though, said a big part of the reorganization involves using a different set of ingredients for their offerings. Hy-Vee has dumped the frozen hashbrowns and is now using fresh-cut homestyle potatoes. It also is using fresh bread from the in-store bakery, and it serves orange juice that is freshly squeezed each morning.

The breakfast menu is being served from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., which is an expansion of hours. Stanwix said the breakfast menu previously ended at 11 a.m.

As for the world record number of pancakes, they were donated to the Kansas City-area food bank Harvesters. The 13,000 pancakes beat the previous record of 12,717 that was set in Russia in 2017.

• So, you want to get in a pancake match, do you? Well, one of the older players in the pancake business is ramping up to have a larger Lawrence presence. IHOP has plans for a west Lawrence location, but it won’t be your ordinary IHOP.

According to building permit information with Lawrence City Hall, the company is remodeling the former Zaxby’s chicken finger restaurant near Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive into a new concept called Flip’d by IHOP.

At the moment, it appears Lawrence will be one of the first three cities in the entire country to get the new IHOP concept. New York City will be the first, but Lawrence and Dublin, Ohio, are also part of the launch, according to a press release from IHOP.

The new concept will be more fast-service oriented than the traditional sit-down IHOP restaurants. The concept will include to-go orders, lots of digital ordering options and some menu items that go beyond traditional breakfast.

That includes something called Pancake Bowls. That’s basically a bowl made out of a pancake, and you’ll be able to fill it with items such as oatmeal, Greek yogurt, fruit, chocolate chips, caramel sauce and more.

The menu also is expected to include quite a few egg sandwiches, specialty coffees and several nonbreakfast items, including sandwiches, salads and made-to-order burritos or burrito bowls, including one called The Late Night, which includes a black angus steakburger over cheesy french fries, topped with Jack and cheddar cheeses, caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, pickles and something dubbed IHOP sauce.

I’m still waiting to hear an opening date, but construction crews are working at the site, 4661 Bauer Farm Drive. I’ll try to do a more complete report as it gets closer to opening.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

The Highlander Cafe has opened at 714 Vermont Street. It is part of the Climb Lawrence business that also is located at the downtown Lawrence location.

• If you want to do some test related to defying gravity, eat one of those Late Night bowls and then go try to climb a 30-foot wall. Or half a flight of stairs. Or out of a BarcaLounger. Gravity almost always wins in all situations, but certainly when you have a Late Night Bowl in your belly.

That’s probably why a downtown restaurant that has opened in conjunction with downtown’s only climbing gym is not going to offer anything like a Late Night Bowl. (Maybe they will rent you a rope, though, to get out of the BarcaLounger.)

When I wrote about Climb Lawrence, 714 Vermont St., in March, I reported that the business eventually would have a component called the Highlander Cafe. The cafe portion of the business opened about a month ago, an employee at the restaurant told me.

Breakfast is a big deal there, but bacon is not. The restaurant’s entire menu is vegetarian, and many of the items are vegan.

Loaded toast is a popular breakfast option, I was told. That includes avocado toast, which in addition to the avocado includes arugula, tomato and pickled onion. There’s also one called the “Straw-Nana” that includes peanut butter, strawberries, bananas, honey, sunflower seeds and chocolate.

The menu also includes chia bowls, an extensive tea menu and about a half dozen smoothies. There are nonbreakfast offerings as well, including paninis. But again, those offerings also are vegetarian, meaning you get some different takes on the traditional panini. One such offering is the Apple Thyme, which includes havarti cheese, green apple and thyme on a rosemary bread.