LAWRENCE, Kan. — A local north Lawrence bar and restaurant is closing its doors until the city responds to concerns about a nearby homeless support center.
Johnny’s Tavern will close on Tuesday, indefinitely, until changes are made.
Because of this situation, Johnny’s Tavern North is closing on Tuesday for the first time in over 30 years. We need to give our staff a mental health break and to reevaluate our ability to provide for them and our customers.Johnny’s Tavern in Lawrence
Spencer Renfro from Johnny’s Tavern said that the want the city to install a fence around the camp, provide professional staff between 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. and to control the amount of people staying at the camp to avoid overflow.
“We want the city to follow through with some accountability on all ends,” Renfro said.
“It was a workable situation in the beginning. But, because it has grown out of control, we are constantly dealing with its effects,” Renfro said. “Our customers and staff are feeling the discomfort of being asked for money, cigarettes, alcohol and the like. As owners, it has taken our focus away from running our business, taking care of our customers and supporting our staff. We spend an inordinate amount of time patrolling the parking lot, diffusing situations, and cleaning up our property.”
The restaurant hired an social services professional to ensure guests and staff are taken care of, but the closure is focused on trying to bring the issue to light, and bring solutions.
“There are many concerned organizations in our community who want to find a solution, not only for this camp but for our homeless population in general,” Renfro said. “The Lawrence community has a big heart with many services to address the needs of our homeless population. The ultimate, long term solution is housing. The lack of care for the current situation is the immediate problem.”
The restaurant doesn’t have a time frame to re-open, but will take it day-by-day as they continue to meet with city officials in hopes of helping all parties involved.