A Lawrence favorite since 2000, Jefferson’s is the place to be on game day. A southern-based restaurant chain, Jefferson’s has over 20 locations, with two being in Lawrence.
A popular location for all Jayhawk fans is during basketball season is downtown Lawrence. Sitting in the heart of Massachusetts Street, sports fanatics pile into the restaurant to cheer on their beloved Jayhawks week in week out. Known for its eclectic mix of food and drink, fans love Jefferson’s, but the atmosphere is what keeps them coming back.
“We see a lot of the same faces, which is really nice. I think that is the beauty of being downtown,” Jefferson’s bartender Chelsea Jennings said. “It is like collective chaos on game day. People are really excited, which makes our job more fun.”
Like many Kansas basketball fans, Jefferson’s holds tradition close to the heart. A longtime tradition that any Jefferson’s patron can recognize is the dollar wall. With an estimated $8,000 hung from top to bottom of the restaurant, customers are able to make their mark on the establishment.
“The first dollar that was made at the first Jefferson’s location, was initially supposed to be hung up in a case behind the bar, but the owner’s friend wanted to decorate it and hang it on the wall,” Jennings said. “It just became a thing, and now everyone does it, it’s kind of fun.”
Rachael Dowding, restaurant manager, has been with the company for three years and enjoys the atmosphere that game days provide. With home games for any sport and March Madness being the busiest time for the restaurant, Dowding enlists all the help she can get.
“We are usually fully staffed when there is a game going on, meaning I have five servers, food runners, a host and two bartenders,” Dowding said. “If it is a later game, I usually bring in people to take care of the patio, and the kitchen is always super full before games.”
As a community rooted in sports, there is nothing more important than finding the best places to catch a game.
“Being a freshman, I had to really figure out where the best place to be on game day was,” said Ashton Roth, a freshman from Leavenworth. “Jefferson’s is the spot, there are televisions everywhere, and to top it all off, their homemade fried pickles are delicious.”
There is nothing quite like a game day at Jefferson’s. The food, the people, and the tradition is enough to draw any Kansas basketball fan in.
“Besides having the best wings in Lawrence,” Dowding said, "it’s a tight restaurant, but I think that that adds to the hype. We are all about creating the best atmosphere.”