It's been a long, long time since anyone ordered a cheeseburger in this long-vacant building, on the southwest corner of Linwood Boulevard and Troost. But back when it was a Katz Drugstore, there used to be a snappy lunch counter. The structure, which dates back to the mid-1930s, still has some fabulous Art Deco details. Wouldn't it make a great restaurant today?
This vacant location actually has a less interesting history than the land it stands on. Nearly a century ago, it was the site of the old Bodine's All-Night Drugstore. That's right, Walt's dad.
There was originally an eight-story apartment-hotel on this corner, the Hotel Ormond, managed by the fussy Teagarden sisters. On the ground floor was a 24-hour pharmacy operated by Walt Bodine's father. It was a popular drugstore, not only because of its highly visible location on one of the busiest intersections (at that time) in Kansas City but also because Mr. Bodine sold liquor -- Pendergast whiskey -- during the Depression.
I was thinking, perhaps, that Walt Bodine's legendary hatred of chicken -- baked, fried, boiled, stewed and roasted -- might have come from some psychological scarring that took place at this venue's lunch counter. "No," Bodine says, "I hated chicken from birth."
At age 90, Bodine's memories of the menu at the lunch counter are slightly hazy, although he recalls fabulous chocolate malts and sensational cheeseburgers. (The burgers couldn't be served with grilled onions, he says, because the Teagarden sisters went ballistic if the aroma of cooking onions wafted upstairs.)
He also remembers a fleet of bicycles parked outside the front entrance for the delivery boys who were sent off to deliver medications, sundries and sandwiches to one of the many hotels up and down Linwood Boulevard.
Walt never got the chance to be a delivery boy: By the time he was old enough to take that job, the owner of the Hotel Ormond decided to tear down the building and lease the lot to the Katz brothers.
"My dad moved to another drugstore at 39th and Walnut," Bodine says, "but it was never very busy. Not busy enough to have delivery boys or much food business. It just didn't work out."