Tito Le Chef, the larger-than-life persona of local chef Basilio Dios, is once again in perpetual motion. The vivacious owner of the Latin Bistro and Culinary Center at 6924 North Oak Trafficway had no sooner closed his short-lived taqueria and lunch spot in downtown Kansas City, Latin Bistro Express, last December than he quickly opened another Latin Bistro Express in the Northland at 21st and Swift.
Now that location is moving, but not very far: Chef Tito says he's trading locations with his landlord. He'll take over her larger space, Ofe's Spa at 2101 Swift, and she'll move into his space: "I needed more room. We do a great lunch business." That move takes place, Tito says, next week.
At the same time, Tito is rehabbing the space at 1710 West 39th Street, formerly occupied by the Rock-n-Moroccan restaurant; he's taking over the tiny dining space and the takeout window just west of the 1710 storefront. The bigger space will be turned into another Latin Bistro Express serving tacos, conchinita pibil, and a variety of other dishes. The bigger news is that Tito plans to serve late on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Hoping to attract the nightclub crowd in Westport, the new Latin Bistro Express will stay open until 3 a.m.
"There will be a limited menu from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.," Tito says, "tacos, tamales and tortas."
Earlier this year, Tito had been negotiating for the restaurant venue last occupied by Amor Picante at 900 West 39th Street, but chef Ray "Pete" Peterman and his wife, Heatherrose, snapped up the space before Tito could sign a lease; the Petermans plan to open a regional American restaurant called Peanches in the space.
Determined to open his own bistro on 39th Street, Tito took over the vacant Rock-n-Moroccan locations. His plans are to turn the takeout window venue into a fast-food carryout serving gourmet hot dogs, Philly cheese steak sandwiches, Mexican ice cream and icy paletas. "We're going to serve all the extravagant flavors," he says, "avocado, papaya, tequila, mango and coconut."
He says he'll wait until Latin Bistro Express is up and running before tackling the takeout window.