After weeks of negotiations, chef Ray "Pete" Peterman signed a lease yesterday with developer Greg Patterson to take over the venue at 900 West 39th Street — the location of the former Pangea, Caliente Grill and Amor Picante restaurants. It's been five years since Peterman, voted "Best Chef" in the 2004 edition of The Pitch "Best of Kansas City" issue, closed his second restaurant, S.O. Redux in Columbus Park. Since then, Peterman has worked at a country club and two hotel kitchens, but has been planning for several years to open a restaurant focusing on regional cuisine.
Peterman will own and operate the restaurant with his wife, Heatherrose McBee Peterman. After considering several possible names, the Petermans have decided to call the venue — scheduled to open in mid-May — Peanches. That's right, peaches with an additional n.
"That was how my mother called peaches," Pete Peterman says. "The place will be kind of a tribute to her."
Peterman's mother, Barbara Dustin, passed away in January. She was always a big supporter of her son's restaurants, right down to sewing the tablecloths for Peterman's first restaurant, the Sour Octopus, in the Northland.
An iconoclastic but popular local chef, Peterman built a loyal following for his earlier restaurants. Peanches will mark the first time that he's owned a venue in midtown. The full-service restaurant will serve lunch and dinner, beginning with dinner service only.
"We'll start doing lunch as soon as we can," he says. "We're very close to the University of Kansas Medical Center, and I think we'll draw a good lunch crowd from that complex. We're going to offer a simple, fresh and affordable lunch during the week. No ordering at the counter — it will be full-service so that our patrons can sit down and relax during ther meal. No one wants to feel rushed."
Peanches will offer a seasonal menu, but Peterman is known for making frequent menu changes. Sometimes daily, sometimes even in the middle of a dinner shift.
"We're going to have a very soft opening," Peterman says. "I like to have at least three full days under my belt before we start filling up the dining room. We want our staff to be fully trained and ready."
Although the Petermans toyed with the idea of offering Sunday brunch in the sunny storefront restaurant, they now think they might purchase a hot-dog cart and sell late-night weiners from their parking lot to the after-bar crowd traveling east and west on 39th Street on weekends.
"Let's just say we're thinking of doing that," Heatherrose Peterman says.
Pete Peterman knows, from past experience, that his fans will try to get on the reservation list as soon as there is a reservation list (he's not using Open Table, by the way, although a Peanches Facebook page will be going up soon). "I don't think we'll even have a phone line in the restaurant until a couple days before we open," Peterman says.