New restaurant and bar with ‘rustic French roots’ coming to East Lawrence

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A new French-inspired restaurant and bar is set to open this summer in East Lawrence.

Owner and Executive Chef Jeffrey Ward said he’s hoping to open Sable Kitchen & Bar at 920 Delaware St. by July or August. The building previously housed Decade, a local coffee shop, until it closed in October.

Ward, 41, has been itching for years to open his own restaurant, specifically in that building. After going to culinary school and then working for around 20 years at several restaurants, one being a French bistro, he found his niche and finally landed the perfect location for his first business.

“Not that I wished Decade to close, but I’ve been looking at that spot for five-plus years,” Ward said. “I have dreamed of doing a restaurant in there.”

Contributed photo Jeffrey Ward, Sable Kitchen & Bar owner and executive chef, works on interior renovations at 920 Delaware St.

Because of that, he’s happy to maintain the integrity of the architecture — the “beautiful, old railroad timber pine for the floorboards and columns,” as he described.

He’s repurposed the previous bar counters to make a chef’s counter, where patrons will be able to sit for meals.

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Reflecting “rustic French roots,” Sable Kitchen & Bar will mostly offer a tasting menu with smaller foods — like charcuterie boards and other snacks — to pair with wine, champagne and other beverages, Ward said. He envisions standing tables on the outdoor patio where folks can enjoy wine and cheese after a long day.

“For aesthetics, I want to keep the French countryside, farmhouse look, so like wood grains, you know, some nice greenery, fresh flowers,” Ward said. “We’re going to get the patio redone and have, I think, a really killer patio. The key word that I always come back to is French countryside.”

Ward credits his wife and life partner, Elise Higgins, for “supporting my dream for 16 years now.” She gifted him a personalized chef’s coat for his first birthday they spent together as a couple.


Sable Kitchen & Bar is named after their Gordon setter, Sable, who died in January.

In a tribute to Sable on the restaurant’s Instagram page, Ward wrote, “I named my company and my first concept after you. You never got to see this dream come true, but when it does, you’ll have the best seat in the house.”

Contributed photo Sable

“She gave us 15 wonderful years, and she was a good dog,” Ward said. “On the chef’s table, my dad and I are putting one of her collars in it.”

With a farm-to-table aspect in mind, Ward plans to source his produce locally as much as possible. So far, he’s connected with Maseualkualli Farms, Green Dirt Farm, Sweetlove Farm and others.

Another idea he’s got brewing is to rotate out new dishes every week made solely of ingredients he finds at the Saturday Lawrence Farmers Markets.

He’s hoping to employ a local table maker to customize all of his tables, as well.

“I don’t want this to be a place where you can get something that you can get somewhere else,” he said. “This is going to be unique like the community of Lawrence.”

Ward’s also been in discussion with Allie Fischer, who manages the Off-Site Art Space — a new University of Kansas art gallery located next door at 924 Delaware St. Since the two buildings sit in a shared space, they’re brainstorming ways to collaborate and promote each other.

With some renovations already underway, which Ward and his father have mainly been working on, Ward now estimates major construction will begin in two to three weeks.

Opening hours are set to be 5 to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Stay updated with Sable Kitchen & Bar’s progress on its Instagram page, @sablekitchenbar.

Contributed photo Progress for Sable Kitchen & Bar is coming along at 920 Delaware St.
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Lawrence Lowdown is a feature on developments around town. Have a tip? Let us know.

Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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