Forever? Yes, according to the restaurant's chef and cofounder Patrick Quillec, who sent out a mass e-mail last week to fans of the five-year-old restaurant announcing his departure from the flagship Hannah Bistro. (He opened a second one in Lee's Summit last year.) The 39th Street Hannah Bistro -- which started so promisingly as a partnership among Quillec, chef Brian Whittaker and silent partner Paul Heil in 1998 -- came unglued on June 12, when Quillec's partners staged a coup.
Whittaker, who ended his partnership with Quillec in 2001, says he has been called in by the restaurant's other partners (including Heil and minority partner Cheryl Ballieu) to "untangle the problems that Patrick has left behind." Whittaker adds, "We don't know what we're doing yet, other than trying to figure out who is owed what and how much, not to mention the huge tax debt."
Quillec says the restaurant closed because of a dispute with the landlord. "I don't know all the details myself. I just know [the partners] took over the restaurant," he explains.
Whittaker plans to reopen the location soon with an "interim concept" but not as another restaurant called Hannah Bistro Café. "In all likelihood, we will not be using that name," he says. Whittaker has several ideas for the space; all of them involve reworking the building's interior, which he thinks is too small. But it has lots of potential, particularly with the "new life and new customer demographics that Joe D's on 39th has brought to the area," he says. "It reminds me of what Westport was like in the 1970s."
Quillec, on the other hand, is mainly interested in talking about the new Hannah Bistro in Overland Park. He'll keep a few of the most popular Café Paris dishes (the onion soup, the escargot, the steak frites) on the revised menu. "It's a very good decision," he says. "Café Paris was struggling a bit, and Hannah Bistro was a more popular concept. Anyway, 65 percent of our customers at 39th Street came from Johnson County."