You've probably been wondering — as I have, for a couple of months — what the hell was going on in the 122-year-old building at 1610 Main. It has had a long and interesting history, particularly over the last three decades when it operated as Irene's Restaurant and Lounge ("The last of the three-martini lunches in Kansas City took place at Irene's," says a former regular); and then the Cajun-inspired Danny's Big Easy restaurant; and then Daddy's Backdoor Bar, a saloon "for bears, leathermen and white- and blue-collared guys," according to one gay travel website.
There has been a lot of construction going on in the building since autumn, and the old sign — the one with the giant arrow that dates back to at least the Irene's era, if not before — is being renovated. All the sign needs right now is a name for restaurateur Anton Kotar's new concept. Kotar has been tinkering with just calling the place Anton's when the combination butcher shop, saloon and full-service restaurant opens in mid-March.
"But wasn't there another restaurant called Anton's on Southwest Boulevard?" he asked.
That had been, decades ago, Antoine's on the Boulevard, I told him. I have a copy of that restaurant's menu (it was located in the building currently occupied by Rhythm & Booze at 423 Southwest Boulevard), which states that the restaurant was "Tony's Also Known As Antoine's on the Boulevard ... House of Watermelons." House of watermelons?
Kotar's plans for the building are impressive. He's fascinated by aquaponics and is determined to raise fish — tilapia, blue Nile — in the basement of the building, as well as grow fresh herbs.