Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Anton Kotar opening a new butcher shop and restaurant on Main Street

Posted by on Tue, Jan 3, 2012 at 11:30 AM

This famous downtown sign is repaired and just needs a new name.
  • This famous downtown sign is repaired and just needs a new name.

You've probably been wondering — as I have, for a couple of months — what the hell was going on in the 122-year-old building at 1610 Main. It has had a long and interesting history, particularly over the last three decades when it operated as Irene's Restaurant and Lounge ("The last of the three-martini lunches in Kansas City took place at Irene's," says a former regular); and then the Cajun-inspired Danny's Big Easy restaurant; and then Daddy's Backdoor Bar, a saloon "for bears, leathermen and white- and blue-collared guys," according to one gay travel website.

There has been a lot of construction going on in the building since autumn, and the old sign — the one with the giant arrow that dates back to at least the Irene's era, if not before — is being renovated. All the sign needs right now is a name for restaurateur Anton Kotar's new concept. Kotar has been tinkering with just calling the place Anton's when the combination butcher shop, saloon and full-service restaurant opens in mid-March.

"But wasn't there another restaurant called Anton's on Southwest Boulevard?" he asked.

That had been, decades ago, Antoine's on the Boulevard, I told him. I have a copy of that restaurant's menu (it was located in the building currently occupied by Rhythm & Booze at 423 Southwest Boulevard), which states that the restaurant was "Tony's Also Known As Antoine's on the Boulevard ... House of Watermelons." House of watermelons?

Anton Kotar, with his son -- Anton V -- is turning grungy Daddys bar into a sleek new restaurant.
  • Anton Kotar, with his son — Anton V — is turning grungy Daddy's bar into a sleek new restaurant.
When Kotar opens his new business this spring, customers will be able to pick out their own hand-cut steak in the butcher shop part of the venue and have it broiled to order. The menu will also feature house-smoked pork chops, free-range organic chicken and an array of other meats that can be eaten in one of the dining areas on the first floor or the bigger dining area on the second floor. The actual butchering will be done in the basement; the retail butcher shop will be on the first floor, which will also include tables for dining. "When you walk into that room, it will be like walking into Bichelmeyers," says Kotar, referring to the famous 66-year-old meat shop in Kansas City, Kansas. "We'll have our own smoked sausages and bacon. We'll slice the bacon for you and wrap it up right there. We'll grind our hamburger beef in-house every day."

Kotar's plans for the building are impressive. He's fascinated by aquaponics and is determined to raise fish — tilapia, blue Nile — in the basement of the building, as well as grow fresh herbs.

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