When delicatessen owner Albert Ladzinski decided to move his business, the Milwaukee Delicatessen, from 809 Delaware to the lower level of the Cosby Hotel at 101 West Ninth Street in 1908, there was only one deli listed in the Kansas City City Directory. That's right, the Milwaukee Delicatessen was the only game in town.
Ten years later, in 1918, the directory listed 10 delicatessens - the subject had its own category in the book because delis were considered a kind of grocery store, not a restaurant - even if they did serve food. Jump ahead to 1938, and Kansas City had no less than 40 delicatessens, including the Cincinnati Delicatessen, the Dutch Delicatessen, the Cavalier Delicatessen and the Waldo Deli (in the old Waldo Theater building). The Milwaukee Delicatessen had moved to 1105 Baltimore.
On Thursday, a new version of the Milwaukee Delicatessen, this one operated by Jon Gerner and Jason Pryor (the owner of the Pizza 51 and Pizza 51 West restaurants) will return to the old Cosby Hotel. Just around the corner, in a different storefront space, Jeremy and Michelle Schepmann will be opening their own new business on the same day: Sasha's Baking Co., a bakery and coffeehouse featuring freshly baked pastries and breads, as well as light breakfast and lunch items such as quiche, savory croissants, soups and sandwiches.
Oh yes, the place has a ghost.
Today, Jeremy Schepmann and his staff - including pastry chef Julie Steele, a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York City - were racing around the space cleaning, polishing and organizing. Steele has impressive plans for filling up the shiny refrigerated display cases in the bakery's main room. She says she'll have eclairs (both chocolate and lavender flavors), chocolate-chip cookies, fresh croissants - both sweet and savory - and a salted caramel apple tart each day that the bakery is open; the business hours will be from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Artisanal breads will be baked by Kati Williams, Schepmann says, and already there are plans for an outdoor patio to be open next spring. Currently the two rooms of the bakery can seat no more than 25 people.
Jeremy Schepmann has put in some late hours in the storefront at 105 West Ninth Street and has had at least one brush with a former tenant: "I was working late, alone, and someone - or something - passed right by me."
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new businesses is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday. The "grand opening reception" for both the Milwaukee Delicatessen and Sasha's Baking is scheduled later that day at 5 p.m.