At the Trocadero, Chef Jason Bowers gets his walking papers.

Troc Walk 

At the Trocadero, Chef Jason Bowers gets his walking papers.

Chef Jason Bowers got to work at 5 a.m. to start working on the inventory at Café Trocadero (401 East 31st Street) on May 17, but he had an uneasy feeling about his future at the 15-month-old restaurant. "The handwriting had been on the wall for a while," he says. "The owners had done a 180-degree turn on me, going from very calm and coolheaded guys to screaming that it was my fault that they were losing all this money at the restaurant. I had already prepared myself mentally."

By 10 a.m., Bowers knew he was getting the ax. "A whole gaggle of owners and managers showed up. I told my crew, 'Well, this is it.' They called me in for a meeting and told me it was not working out." Bowers tells the Pitch that when he asked Chris Sefryn, who co-owns the restaurant with Vince Rook, whether he still had a job, Sefryn told him no. "So I packed up my stuff and headed to Prairie Village," Bowers says.

Sefryn says, "Jason's a talented chef but hard to deal with. He was our Rocco DiSpirito. He just didn't get it."

"Yes, Jason's gone," says Café Trocadero manager Robbie McGowan, who has been interviewing new chefs. "We just need some new blood in here."

McGowan says the restaurant is not losing money. "Jason would not do what the owners wanted him to do," he says. "It turned into a battle of wills."

Last year, the Pitch named Café Trocadero Best New Restaurant in its annual Best of Kansas City issue. That was essentially to honor the creative talent of 29-year-old Bowers, who had come to the urban boîte from Dean & DeLuca in Leawood. Bowers says the "positive reviews and customer feedback" were the highlights of his tenure at Café Trocadero. Regarding his abrupt departure, he believes he's being cast as the scapegoat for, he charges, "a restaurant with poor sales and a location that's probably five or six years ahead of its time." He adds, "There's a lot happening around us, but it's still considered an underdeveloped area."

A few months ago, the neighboring business DiPardo's Wine and Spirits -- another Chris Sefryn enterprise, this one billed as a high-end liquor store --closed with little fanfare. But nary a tear was shed by my friend Ned, who lives nearby. "If you went in for vodka or wine, you couldn't get any accoutrements like cups, cheese, crackers, napkins. I finally said to hell with them."

For his part, Bowers wants to stay in the metro. He hopes to find another executive chef position with a more successful restaurant operation and, ultimately, investors willing to back him in opening his own intimate bistro, perhaps like the new Bluestem (see review, page 33).

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