A McLain's Bakery pineapple roll - that square of puffy, glazed pastry embedded with a dollop of pineapple jam that glistens like a canary diamond - is one of Kansas City's culinary mainstays. In local memory, it sits alongside a Stroud's chicken breast or an LC's Bar-B-Q french fry.
The recipe has been the same for generations (though I swear the things are smaller now than they were two decades ago). And that consistency is what customers of the 67-year-old bake shop demand: the same butter rolls, the same chocolate drop cookies, the same sticky buns. Still, things have changed here over the years, and not always for the better.
When Grand Street LLC, the new owner of the venerable bakery (which moved out of its longtime location at 7422 Wornall in 2011 to a spacious, 3,800-square-foot venue at 201 East Gregory) purchased the business earlier this year, the sale included the original recipes. "But we found out that not everything had been made from scratch in recent years," says Jeff Hirleman, general manager. "There had been some products that had been prepared using frozen dough or mixes."
Since Grand Street LLC - restaurateurs Greg Hirleman (Jeff's father) and Rick and Kristi Ghilardi, who operate the two Grand Street Café restaurants in the metro - purchased McLain's, it has returned to its roots as an all-from-scratch bakery.
"The bakery's reputation was very important to us," Jeff Hirleman says. For good reason: "We're now providing all the breads for the Grand Street restaurants, and we'll soon be making all the desserts there, too."
Hirleman says future plans include adding some of McLain's more famous breakfast pastries, possibly butter and pineapple rolls, to Grand Street's Sunday brunch buffet.
The bakery is also installing a deep fryer in the baking area so that yeasty doughnuts can go into the pastry cases. "Since we'll be making and selling breads now on a daily basis, we're thinking of opening on Mondays in the future," Hirleman says.
That's a change plenty of McLain's fans can get behind.