Yesterday, Fat City reported on the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Westport Flea Market, which began in the summer of 1981, serving burgers in the middle of an eclectic "mall" of vendors selling everything from baseball cards to Zenith Hi-Fidelity record players ... and everything in between.
What interested me is the life of the big old building at 817 Westport Road before Mel Kleb opened the original Westport Flea Market. The current owner of the business, Joe Zwillenberg, has a menu from a previous tenant — the Place in Westport — a restaurant that also sold burgers and beer. But I have yet to find anyone in the restaurant community who recalls ever eating at the Place in Westport in the late 1960s and early '70s. That includes restaurant consultant and chef Bonnie Winston, who was very much on the scene during Westport's evolution as a dining and drinking destination; Winston created the menu for the trend-setting Prospect of Westport.
The building has an interesting past. And thanks to Steve Noll, executive director of the Jackson County Historical Society, I've learned a little more about the checkered history of 817 Westport Road.
In 1940, Noll discovered, the building served as headquarters for the Calhoun Mantle and Tile Company. It was vacant for much of World War II — home building had fallen off in those years — and from 1950 to 1963, the building was the Kansas City factory for the Omaha-based Kitty Clover Potato Chip Company. Does anyone still manufacture Kitty Clover Chips?
The last City Directory listing that Noll discovered, before the building was transformed into the Westport Flea Market, was a business called Things Unlimited, which Noll believes was also a flea market — but without food.
I'm wondering, is there a Fat City reader who remembers eating at the Place in Westport?