More cost-effective but far less glamorous is the Sunday brunch at the downtown Hereford House (2 East 20th Street). For only $14.95 per person, you get excellent carved prime rib, tender brisket in gravy, a vat of cheesy lasagna, airy biscuits with sausage gravy and a lavish assortment of salads, cheeses, fruit and desserts. The downside: dry pastries that taste prepackaged and a few awful side dishes, such as the greasy fried potatoes. In fact, the deal may have been too good: The restaurant will serve its last brunch on May 27.
"The support just wasn't there," says Hereford House owner Rod Anderson. "We gave it a go for four months, and the business never justified the cost of doing it. Brunch takes a lot of work."
A Sunday brunch is the glutton's version of a cafeteria, but the old standbys of that genre seem to be vanishing. The former Furr's Cafeteria (9421 Metcalf) is under construction for a new Chinese restaurant: China Star.
This China Star will be barely a fortune cookie's toss from the original Bo Ling's (9055 Metcalf). But Johnson County's ever-increasing number of Chinese restaurants doesn't seem to faze the competition -- except for David Ye, the 37-year-old owner of Joy Luck and Dragon Dynasty. For his latest venture, Ye decided to switch culinary cultures. Last month, he purchased the nine-year-old Hikari Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar from Hiro Kawaguchi.
"There's much less competition in the teppan-yaki steakhouse business," says Ye. "And it's a good business. There's less labor costs, a smaller kitchen crew. And people love the concept. On weekends, we have people waiting in line."
Ye says he has no plans to change the Hikari operation, and former teppan-yaki chef Herbert Hebel continues as the restaurant's general manager.
"The great thing about this location," Ye says, "is that we're tucked between an Italian restaurant and a Mexican restaurant. It gives us a lot more exposure than my Joy Luck, which is in a strip center with no other restaurants around. People are accustomed to coming to this neighborhood to eat!"
A bustling neighborhood does breed business -- at least during the daylight hours. Just ask Dave Winslow, who celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of his family's namesake barbecue joint in the city market next month. Winslow still mourns the short life of his upscale jazz club-restaurant, Club 427, which "fought an uphill battle" as the only restaurant of its kind in the area. "Certain commitments to redevelopment in the area never happened," Winslow says circumspectly.
But Winslow's Barbecue, which recently received an attractive interior makeover, is always hopping -- even when the rest of the market area is empty. "After thirty years," says Dave's mother, Addie, "people better know where to find us."