As Cole remembers it, "39th Street had a lot of secondhand stores. There was a biker bar across the street and a topless bar where the Taj Palace is now."
His restaurant brought a carriage trade clientele to the sleepy neighborhood that, in turn, inspired other restaurateurs to open venues up and down the street.
But Cole's personal life had changed by the late 1990s. At an age when many fathers are packing off their kids for college, Cole became a father for the first time at 49. He and his wife, Julie, had a daughter, Alexa, in 1998 and four years later, Cafe Allegro was taking a toll on his family.
"Alexa was my primary reason for selling Café Allegro," he says. "I wanted to spend more time with her and I can't tell you how nice it is to now have Saturday nights off to grill a steak and relax at home with my wife and daughter."
Cole isn't totally removed from the food service business, though. As a sales associate with Prudential CRES Commercial Real Estate, Cole's specialty is finding venues for new restaurateurs. He also teaches culinary classes for Johnson County Community College's hospitality program. And, yes, there are days when he toys with the idea of opening another restaurant.
"I miss the people the most my regular customers and many of my employees. If I did open another restaurant, it wouldn't be another Café Allegro. It would be much more casual, with a larger bar area, but very nice appointments."
Cole's fans shouldn't count on a new restaurant anytime in the near future. After all, he notes, "My daughter's only in second grade."