Openings & Closings

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Open Fire Wood Burning Pizza is closed

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 12:12 PM

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If you have a dream of opening your own restaurant, Block & Company's Max Kosoglad has a nice little space for you: 16,000 square feet, actually, at 3951 Broadway. Until last month, this building was occupied by Open Fire Wood Burning Pizza and the Kiosk Gallery. The restaurant's final day was announced on the restaurant's Facebook page July 30.

The post stated: "We started with $100 in the drawer, put up a hell of a fight and survived longer than a lot of startup restaurants would."

"The existing restaurant space is currently 6,000 square feet ," Kosoglad says, "but can be divided. There's quite a bit of restaurant equipment still in there."

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

iPho Tower's new Northeast location opens next week

Posted By on Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 3:55 PM

While Spike Nguyen does business over the phone, Jessie Nguyen is overseeing the renovation of the former Pho Hoa dining room; it officially turns into a second iPho Tower restaurant next week.
  • While Spike Nguyen does business over the phone, Jessie Nguyen is overseeing the renovation of the former Pho Hoa dining room; it officially turns into a second iPho Tower restaurant next week.

Restaurateur Spike Nguyen says he's almost never off the phone these days. He hasn't figured out a way to get it into the shower with him, but it may need to come to that.

Nguyen says he's on the phone so frequently because he had to create a new corporation in order to change his three-year-old Pho Hoa restaurant at 1447 Independence Avenue — the first Kansas City franchise of the California-based Pho Hoa Noodle Soup chain — into a second location of his own iPho Tower concept.

Spike and Jessie Nguyen opened their first iPho Tower in April in the historic building at 3623 Broadway (last occupied, briefly, by Clark's Caribbean American Restaurant), and the French-Vietnamese venue was such an immediate hit that they decided that they would turn Pho Hoa into a second iPho Tower.

The Independence Avenue location is set to open next week. The highly superstitious Jessie Nguyen is checking her calendar for the most favored date, numerically speaking. "There are certain numbers that are luckier than others," she says. 

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Ubuntu is closed, but the cook has moved to 4th Down Grill

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 2:33 PM

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When Troost Avenue had a streetcar line, in the first half of the last century, it had dozens of small, independently owned restaurants, cafes and cafeterias. Now, if you don't count the fast-food outlets, the pickings for any dining venue are pretty spartan. And recently, another culinary entrepreneur on the city's historic dividing line has called it quits: Ubuntu Cafe at 4327 Troost closed a few weeks ago.

Ubuntu Cafe — ubuntu is Swahili for "humanity to others" — was a carry-out cafe offering a variety of home-style meals and side dishes operated by cook Leland Thomas and his mother, Ann Thomas. It was open for only four months.

"The building was sold," Leland Thomas says, "and the new owners didn't want us to stay on."

Leland Thomas may have left Troost, but not the restaurant business. He's currently working for another family member, Charles Henderson, who hosted an opening-night shindig last Saturday for his new Kansas City, Kansas, restaurant called 4th Down Grill, at 6607 Parallel Parkway. The restaurant is closed on Mondays but will be open tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Stumble's Public House: Where steaks and cigarettes still mingle

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 1:00 PM

If you don't mind looking at your plate through a mist of tobacco smoke and enduring the volume of what might be the world's loudest jukebox, the Wednesday-night steak special at Stumble's is a deal.
  • If you don't mind looking at your plate through a mist of tobacco smoke and enduring the volume of what might be the world's loudest jukebox, the Wednesday-night steak special at Stumble's is a deal.

I was reunited with an old friend last night: a hard plastic Gessner ashtray — the 4-inch diameter "Deep Area Ashtray," not to be confused with the smaller "Fast Food" model or the larger "Executive" version — which was once a standard table accessory in the restaurants and bars where I used to work. Even the macrobiotic restaurant in Indianapolis had a small smoking section (with more ecology-friendly glass ashtrays).

Every table in the eight-month-old Stumble's Public House, in Raytown (9315 E. 350 Highway), has an ashtray. This saloon, which serves a full menu of traditional pub dishes, is one of the few places in the Kansas City metro where it's perfectly legal to light up a Marlboro after polishing off a big platter of fish and chips or a patty melt.

There are at least six smoke-free restaurants in Raytown, where proposed smoking ordinances to ban smoking have been trounced by the town's aldermen.  Cigarettes — and Gessner ashtrays — still rule at places like Stumble's, where smokers, who are often treated like pariahs in other bars and dining rooms, are warmly welcomed.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Can I Have a Bite is now open in south Kansas City

Posted By on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Kathy Hale -- cook, Pilates instructor, writer -- prepares to roast organic sweet potatoes for one of the dishes she'll be selling today at her new prepared-meal shop, Can I Have a Bite, at 8011 Wornall.
  • Kathy Hale -- cook, Pilates instructor, writer -- prepares to roast organic sweet potatoes for one of the dishes she'll be selling today at her new prepared-meal shop, Can I Have a Bite, at 8011 Wornall.

If you haven't already checked out Kathy Hale's Facebook page for her new carryout restaurant business, Can I Have a Bite, here's what she's offering today in her just-opened shop at 8011 Wornall (she shares a space with a new coffeehouse, Red-Headed Philosopher Coffee): chicken enchiladas (made with free-range, organic chicken), vegan lasagna, a vegetable frittata, Persian lime green beans, and pizza. And two soups: gazpacho and curry bisque.

Two months ago, caterer — and former Pitch restaurant reviewer back in the 1990s — Hale was trying to turn the long, narrow space in the historic brick building (it operated as a raucous nightclub called Mary's back in the 1940s when this stretch of Wornall was right outside the city limits) into Can I Have a Bite, a grab-and-go shop featuring vegetarian and organic prepared meals. The store had, says Hale, a soft opening on Saturday and officially opens for business today, The hours are from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Hale is also supplying some food items for Red-Headed Philosopher.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Providence Pizzeria Co. has three kinds of pizza, and bagels, in Grandview

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 1:57 PM

The copper Le Panyol oven, used primarily for Neapolitan pizza at the new Providence Pizzeria Co., burns oak wood.
  • The copper Le Panyol oven, used primarily for Neapolitan pizza at the new Providence Pizzeria Co., burns oak wood.

The copper pizza oven — the shiny, oak-burning machine behind the counter of the three-month-old Providence Pizzeria Co. in Grandview — has been operating at full force since July 11. The oven was designed for Neapolitan pizza, which requires very high heat, which is why this venue's owners, brothers Aaron and Luke Salvatore and Bill Brison, offer the pizza only in the evening. It takes most of the day to get the wood-burning oven to the perfect temperature.

It was prayer, more or less, that brought the Salvatore brothers (the youngest brother, Ben, is working in the pizzeria, but planning to return to college) from Providence, Rhode Island to Grandview, Missouri.

"I met my wife through the International House of Prayer," says Aaron Salvatore, 34, "and we came to Kansas City."

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French Bee Bakery in Parkville is opening second location in Lenexa

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Tracy Torres, left, the owner of the 16-month-old French Bee Bakery in Parkville, is opening a second location of her bake shop and luncheonette in Lenexa this autumn with the assistance of pastry chef Aubrey Jameson.
  • Tracy Torres, left, the owner of the 16-month-old French Bee Bakery in Parkville, is opening a second location of her bake shop and luncheonette in Lenexa this autumn with the assistance of pastry chef Aubrey Jameson.


Tracy Torres, owner of the 16-month-old  French Bee Bakery in Parkville, had a five-year plan when she gambled most of her savings on opening a cozy bake shop and luncheonette at 404 East Street in downtown Parkville. But it has been less than two years, she says, and her plan is moving much faster than she thought it would.

"I had a dream of expanding my business," Torres says. "Just not as quickly as it's actually happening."

The divorced mother of four — her triplets all graduated from Rockhurst College in May, and her eldest daughter just completed a law degree at the University of Michigan (all worked part time for her at the French Bee) — is taking another big gamble this year: She's opening a second French Bee in Lenexa, at 87th Street and Renner Road, in the same office building that houses the second Grand Street Cafe. Torres is hoping to have her second location — which will also serve light breakfasts and lunches in a buttercream-colored dining room, like the original venue — by November.

"I have to be open for the holidays," Torres says. "It's imperative."

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Nica's Lagniappe Cajun Kitchen has closed for good

Posted By on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Chef Bryan Merker created some first-class Cajun creations for his three-year-old Lagniappe restaurant, but he's closing the venue for good. - ANGELA C. BOND
  • Angela C. Bond
  • Chef Bryan Merker created some first-class Cajun creations for his three-year-old Lagniappe restaurant, but he's closing the venue for good.

A couple of local blogs reported this week that chef Bryan Merker's Cajun restaurant, Nica's Lagniappe Cajun Kitchen, had been closed since June 28 for repairs and remodeling. Today, Merker announced, through his publicist Jackson Bonar, that the three-year-old restaurant, which originally opened as Nica's 320 in 2011 in the former Shiraz location at 320 Southwest Boulevard, will not reopen.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Kansas Town restaurant closes after five months

Posted By on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Chef Garrett Kasper created beautiful dishes for Kansas Town...but were they too artistic for the humble bistro? - ANGELA C. BOND
  • Angela C. Bond
  • Chef Garrett Kasper created beautiful dishes for Kansas Town...but were they too artistic for the humble bistro?


A little more than five months after the restaurant known as Kansas Town opened in the former Macaluso's space, at 1403 West 39th Street, restaurateur Michael Bechtel has closed the venue. Bechtel posted this message on the restaurant's Facebook page three hours ago:

"Unable to reach a new lease agreement to our satisfaction, sadly, we are closing our doors. Thank you to all of you who supported us and enjoyed some of the best food in the city."

The very creative dining spot opened last January with chef Joe Shirley (of the classy Uberdine pop-up restaurants) as menu consultant and bright young chef Garrett Kasper as executive chef. The dishes that Kasper created were as visually stunning as museum-quality artwork, but many diners found the menu (which only listed the primary ingredients) and some of the culinary combinations — a white-chocolate foie gras — to be incomprehensible.

"I gave Garrett a free rein in the kitchen," Bechtel says, "so I have no one to blame but myself. Most of the people who dined in the restaurant found the food to be delicious and exciting, as we had hoped. But others were not as enchanted by what we were doing."

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Crows Coffee opens in South Plaza next week

Posted By on Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Everything is in place for Zach Moores' new coffeehouse, Crows Coffee. He's hoping to open the doors to the public next week.
  • Everything is in place for Zach Moores' new coffeehouse, Crows Coffee. He's hoping to open the doors to the public next week.


The original plan was for Crows Coffee, the South Plaza coffeehouse at 51st Street and Oak created by 38-year-old entrepreneur Zach Moores, to have its soft opening this weekend. But there are still some kinks to work out, so Moores has pushed back his first day of business until next Monday or Tuesday. (A grand opening is tentatively scheduled for sometime in July.)

But Moores is ready. His staff is hired, his machinery - including a sleek, flaming-red, Italian-made La Marzocco FB/70 semiauto espresso machine - is tuned up and ready for business, and the pastries are ordered; Moores will be selling baked goods from both Northland's Le Monde Bakery and local confectionery queen Chelsea Williams. The coffee comes from Shawnee-based Messenger Coffee. The only component still missing are the customers, but Moores envisions a full house - the room seats 42 - after patrons discover the place. There hasn't been a coffee vendor on this stretch of 51st Street since Muddy's closed in 2011.

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