Update: Lola’s Handcrafted Sandwiches is coming back!

Fan’s of Lola’s Handcrafted Sandwiches: after publishing our story on restaurant churn in Tyler, we heard from Shawn Dunn, who, along with his wife Rebecca, has bought Lola’s from its former owners and is reopening the restaurant this month.

Shawn and Rebecca were on vacation in the Caribbean in January when a friend alerted Shawn that Lola’s was closing. “It’s funny,” says Shawn. “My wife and I have always dreamed of moving to the Caribbean one day and opening a bed and breakfast. Ironically, we were sitting in the Caribbean when we got this news. We looked at each other like, ‘You only live once, right?'” They messaged Chris Czop, former owner of Lola’s, via Facebook and offered to buy the restaurant. A deal was successfully negotiated, and the grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, March 17.

As for why Lola’s closed in the first place, Dunn says it’s a familiar story in the world of first-time independent restaurant owners: the business side of the equation simply got to be too much. Shawn, who opened a State Farm agency in Bullard, and Rebecca, a professor in the pharmacy department at UT Tyler, intend to keep their day jobs and manage Lola’s on the side. “In the beginning I’ll be at Lola’s quite a bit,” says Shawn. “We want to get it to where it’s a well-oiled machine and then let it run.”

So what do the Dunns have in store? So far, the only change they plan to make to the menu is introducing a handful of cold sandwiches to ease bottleneck on the grill. “We’re not taking anything away from the menu,” says Shawn. “My wife and I would be dumb to come in and try and change any of that.” Andrew Czop, Chris’s son, manned the grill when his family owned the restaurant, and will continue to be executive chef at the new Lola’s. “Andrew is so passionate about food and we are so thrilled that he’s going to stay on and keep doing what he does,” says Shawn.

The grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, March 17.

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Tasneem Raja is the Executive Editor of The Tyler Loop, a nonprofit journalism startup that explores policy, history, and demographics in Tyler, Texas. She is an award-winning journalist who has reported for NPR, The New Yorker, the Atlantic, Mother Jones, and other national outlets. A former senior editor at NPR, she launched a popular podcast exploring issues of identity and race with NPR's Code Switch team. At Mother Jones, she specialized in data visualization and led a team that built the first-ever database of mass shootings in America. She's a pioneer in the field of data-driven digital storytelling, a frequent speaker on issues of digital journalism, and a die-hard fan of alt weeklies, where she got her start as a local reporter. She lives in Tyler with her husband, her stepson, and two imperious terriers.
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