I only just noticed that the banner which used to hang in front of the old Napoleon Bakery building at 706 Westport Road, announcing a new tenant, the Kansas City Bread Company, is no longer flapping in the breeze. That's because the Kansas City Bread Company is no longer going to open in this location. The plan to open the new bakery had been the dream of master baker Roberto Luna, formerly with City Bakery, but the deal fell through.
"The tenant couldn't obtain the financing to open the retail side of the business," says Jeff Berg, senior vice president of the Lane 4 Group, owners of the building. "Until two weeks ago, the tenant was still using the commercial kitchen in the building to bake bread for his wholesale operation, but currently, the building is literally walk-in ready for a new tenant."
For many years, the original Napoleon Bakery & Cafe — operated by the Schanzer brothers — was an iconic venue in Westport, serving wonderful lunches (the price included dessert) and a beautiful array of pastries and freshly baked breads. After Larry Schanzer passed away, pastry chef and restaurateur James Holmes purchased the business in 2008. A couple of years later, Holmes moved the bakery to Overland Park — and several other ill-fated locations since then.
Several restaurant operators have looked at 706 Westport Road — the building has a big asset, its own parking lot directly across the street — but Jeff Berg says the venue's kitchen, designed to be a commercial bakery, makes it a tough sell for an operation that isn't a bakery.
"But for a tenant wanting to walk in and create a new bakery and cafe, all the equipment is here," Berg says.