Cutter’s Smokehouse will close after Sunday
On the same weekend that the Eudora Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Eudora Business Association will have events to celebrate the completion of the downtown beautification project, one of the mainstays of Main Street will close its doors.
Sunday will be the last day Cutter’s Smokehouse and Pub will be opened. Owner and operator Dan Strimple said he will miss the people he has seen on a daily basis for the last eight or so years. However, he will continue to look for a new location to move Cutter’s — hopefully in the area of E. 10th St.
Strimple said he feels he is being forced out of the location. And since there are no commercial sites open in Eudora, they must close down the business.
Doric Lodge No. 83 owns the building and holds its meetings on the second floor. Strimple has rented the location on the first floor at 726 Main St. for about eight years. During that time, the only time he had a formal lease was in the first year. Strimple said members of the lodge approached him last summer and asked him to sign a lease right before construction on Main Street began. He said he wouldn’t sign a lease until the construction was finished.
He expected a lease this summer, but not one that wasn’t negotiable.
The lease that was given to Strimple would have raised his rent and also made him responsible for maintenance of the 118-year-old building. When Strimple asked the lodge to change the lease so that he wouldn’t be responsible for maintenance, he was told the lodge wouldn’t budge on any part of the contract and that if he didn’t sign it, he would be evicted.
“I feel like I’ve been treated very unfairly,” Strimple said.
Strimple said there were several maintenance problems with the building. When he moved into the space in May 2001, the east end of building had to be raised about six inches with floor jacks. Since then, as many as six more floor jacks — four of them installed by Strimple, and two installed by the lodge — have been installed because of a sinking floor in the kitchen area.
The basement floods with any amount of rain — which makes the restaurant reek every morning when it is opened — and the brick wall on the rear of the building has several leaks that cause water to run past the building’s electrical breaker.
“It really needs to be brought up to code,” Strimple said. “It’s a safety hazard.”
Strimple has asked the lodge to fix the problems, but it has not done so.
Members of the lodge did not return phone calls seeking comment.
The city codes administrator cannot inspect a structure unless violations are evident, a new occupant is moving in or the tenant files a formal complaint.
The fire code inspector will tour the building next week.
Eudora Fire Chief Randy Ates said the poor condition of many buildings in the downtown area make fires more dangerous to fight. In the case of some buildings, firefighters would have to back out of them and try to contain a fire from outside rather than risk walls and ceilings collapsing on them or firefighters falling through floors.
The location will become one more vacant building in what was supposed to become a thriving downtown.
“It’s going to hurt (downtown),” Strimple said. “If I was somebody coming into town, I’d be thinking ‘What’s wrong here? Why can’t they keep people on their main street down here?’”
DEBA member and DC Custom Crafted Cycles owner Matt Montgomery, whose business is next to Cutter’s, also said that the nature of the downtown was such that when a customer frequents one business, they typically visit another. So losing Cutter’s will have an adverse effect at least on his business, not to mention the negative appearance of another vacant building downtown.
“I would say at least 50 percent of our customers that come here strictly for our bike shop go to Cutter’s for a full meal, a beverage or they return at a later date,” he said. “I would say a small percentage of people who go to Cutter’s come over here and recognize us as a draw to downtown.”