The Pitch received a press release yesterday from the Chicago-based Sanderson & Associates with an announcement: Erbert and Gerbert's, a Wisconsin-based sandwich chain, "is expanding to Kansas City and is planning to open seven locations within the next 3 years."
Any new restaurant chain moving into the Kansas City market is news, but according to Sanderson & Associates account executive Erin Hudec, there's no local franchisee yet, and no first location site has been chosen. So why make the announcement now?
"We're trying to build excitement," Hudec says.
My father grew up in the hamlet of Lockport, New York: 18 miles from Niagara Falls and famous for the original canal locks created for the Erie Canal, 1980s supermodel Kim Alexis, and a great cheeseburger joint called Reid's. Because Lockport was just outside Buffalo, that town's signature sandwich, roast beef on weck, was extremely popular in the smaller canal town, too.
Beef on weck isn't much more than a roast beef sandwich with horseradish, but it's the weck that makes it great: a kummelweck — sometimes spelled kimmelweck — bun. On the East Coast, bakers actually produce the unique hard roll, a kaiser bun that's sprinkled with pretzel salt and caraway seeds before baking. The chewy, crusty roll effectively soaks up the beef jus served with the sandwich — it's essentially a French dip sandwich with a Teutonic attitude.
Kansas City hasn't taken to the sandwich with the fervor of upstate New York. Cafe Europa used to serve an outrageously good version with a kummelweck bun baked by the venue once known as City Tavern. Cafe Europa dropped it from its lunch menu two years ago.
But three other local saloons are serving excellent variations on the sandwich: the Beer Kitchen, Swagger and the new Remedy Food + Drink in Waldo.
Todd Schulte, the owner of Genessee Royale, the stylish breakfast-and-lunch restaurant in the West Bottoms, is more than ready for warmer weather to appear. He wants to open the glass-paned garage doors -- this space really was a garage and gas station once -- and begin serving meals outside on the patio.
He's also ready to introduce a new menu at the end of this month. One of the casualties of the menu change will be this restaurant's popular Monte Cristo sandwich.
Hey, Fat City readers, I'll be co-hosting the Walt Bodine Show this morning at 10 a.m. on KCUR 89.3, and the subject will be sandwiches of all types: open-faced, on a bun, between slices of bread, toasted, grilled, pressed, meaty, meatless, messy -- even the ice-cream-and-cookie sandwich from Murray's.
Some sandwiches are like slipping on a pair of old slippers. They're comfortable and easy and you don't think about them until the next time they're right in front of you.
Pickerman's Soup & Sandwiches (116 West 63rd Street) is hoping to get your attention with a primary-colored, hand-drawn window sign that lets you know the Brookside joint is the "home of the California Classic." The colorful reminder worked and I walked inside yesterday.
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