By CHARLES FERRUZZA
The new movie Bottle Shock is based on the real-life story of a former real estate attorney Jim Barrett (played in the film by Bill Pullman) who sacrifices his life savings to open a California vineyard. Much closer to home is the story of retired firefighter Bill Crow, who dreamed of having his own restaurant. Four days ago, Crow threw open the doors to the Cook Shack Café, a breakfast-and-lunch diner at 8950 Wornall.
The tiny free-standing building was, in its most recent incarnation, another homestyle-cooking diner called Top of the Wornall. Crow and his family came in, cleaned up the place and started serving modestly priced breakfasts and lunches. I ate a fine breakfast there this morning: a bacon-and-cheese omelette (served with toast and fried potatoes) and a half order of really good biscuits and gravy.
The building has a long history. In the 1960s, it was a burger joint called the Mark-Ninety Drive-In; my friend Elsie Lavish used to take her kids there and recalls the signature sandwich as “little burgers smothered in onions like White Castles, but on a bigger bun.” For nearly two decades, beginning in 1986, the venue was a Middle Eastern restaurant called the Kabob House.
Crow’s brother was working in the kitchen with him on the morning I dined at the Cook Shack Café and his daughter and niece were the waitresses.
“Uncle Bill used to cook at the firehouses where he worked,” said his niece Sarah. “And after he retired, he wanted to cook in his own restaurant.”
There’s an idea for a movie here, somewhere.