"We simply had too many requests to book our dining room for private parties, and during the holidays that's a big part of our business," says former Fitzpatrick employee Gigi Cowell, who now owns the Europa Café with her husband, Scott Cowell.
Instead of dinner, the Europa Café now sets out a Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Rather than a buffet, it's a selection of eight items from a brunch menu that includes Grand Marnier French toast, smoked salmon eggs Benedict, and ham with red-eye gravy. Prices range from $8 to $11, but the Cowells won't take reservations. "We're just too small," Gigi says.
Over at Café Maison, Fitzpatrick's Sunday brunch business is booming, and so is his dinner trade -- especially now that his yearlong attempt to get a wine and beer license finally has became a fait accompli. (The story of his many delays in dealing with Kansas City's Liquor Control Office is positively Kafkaesque.) Fitzpatrick has added an extensive wine list and is now serving dinners on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights from 5:30 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday nights from 5:30 to 10 p.m.
In other Brookside news: Since the weather turned chilly, there's been an addition to the menu at Foo's Fabulous Frozen Custard (6235 Brookside Plaza). Copywriter-turned-caterer Patsy Nichols is now offering hot soups at the fifteen-year-old dessert emporium from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
When Nichols was a broadcast producer and copywriter, her boss was Bernstein-Rein's Chief Creative Officer Jeff Bremser. Now she works with Bremser's sister, Betty, who purchased Foo's from Jeff and Betty's brother, Joe "Foo" Bremser, several years ago. Nichols changes her two soup offerings daily; when I stopped in, the choices were cream of mushroom and navy bean. A cup of Patsy's potage is $2.95 (a bowl is $4.25), and that includes either homemade croutons, a slice of bread or a roll.
"I had no idea that so many ... daytime customers were adults," Nichols says. "They're surprised to see me there selling soup, but it's starting to catch on."