If you've had a dream of owning your own cozy Italian trattoria, Sterling Scott of Sperry Van Ness realtors has a great location for you: the space in the Northland's Picture Hills Shopping Center last occupied by Mary Ann's Trattoria. The El Maguey Mexican Restaurant venue, in the same complex, is also up for grabs and includes a fully equipped kitchen and some over-the-top painted furnishings.
Both restaurants opened and closed in 2011 — along with dozens of others, some famous names and other lesser-known bistros and cafes — but Scott, the managing director of Sperry Van Ness, thinks last year's restaurant tragedies will be positive news for new start-up operations.
"There are some deals out there," Scott says. "In the last two years, restaurateurs have been shopping for deals, and landlords have not wanted to budge on rental prices. I think there will be more of a meeting of the minds in 2012 with both sides giving in a little more. And 2012 will be a great year for finding fully equipped restaurant locations, which can be a real advantage when it's so difficult to get start-up capital from banks."
So as the memory of 2011 begins to fade away, let's not look at this list of closed restaurants as a heartbreaking turn of events (although, in many cases, that's exactly what it feels like) but as an opportunity for new restaurateurs to open new places to dine.
As I've written earlier, it was painful to bid adieu to a number of Kansas City classics like Benton's Prime Steakhouse, the Peppercorn Duck Club, Skies, and the Peachtree Buffet.
The economy — among many other issues — wasn't good for Brookside's Pickerman's Soups & Sandwiches (which I always wanted to be good ... and wasn't), Cafe Roux in Leawood's Park Place development, and Waxy O' Shea's in Shawnee.
Then there were the closings that seemed inevitable, even fated: Cafe Seed (where customers waited so long for their food to arrive that some diners were reported as missing persons); the underwhelming Pizza Oven in south Kansas City; the Olathe branch of Domo Sushi & Grill, where the glacially slow service had customers calling it "Slo-mo."
Surprises? One of the biggest failures of 2011 was the Jack Gage American Tavern, south of the Plaza, which always seemed busy. I wonder if it would still be around today if the owners had paid the rent. And less than a month after Marty Junkins, the owner of Brookside's Sharp's 63rd Street Grill, announced he was giving the dated neighborhood diner a face-lift, Fat City broke the news that he was actually selling the business to veteran restaurateur Forbes Cross, who will turn the joint into a Michael Forbes Grill. Muddy's Coffeehouse went flat after 16 years (Kin Lin Chinese restaurant is expanding into the space). The owner of the Pink Box Bakery in Lawrence told Fat City that she was closing because she was too busy. A few months after the Tomfooleries restaurant closed in Zona Rosa, O'Dowd's Little Dublin Irish Ale House and Pub in the same development turned off the taps.
Hey, and the current crop of GOP candidates isn't the only group crying foul over all things China: The landlord of the building where Asian Tiger in Blue Springs once served General Tso's chicken until it closed this year: "A predatory Chinese buffet opened a few blocks away and stole all the business," the landlord said. The family-owned
Smokehouse Barbecue Smoke Stack, a fixture on Wornall Road for a half century, closed in 2011. Another golden oldie (but long tarnished) that bit the dust: Patrikio's Mexican Restaurant on Wornall Holmes Road. It had once been one of the most popular Tex-Mex operations on Kansas City's south side ... back in the 1970s.
And a bittersweet bye-bye to synthetic-pot tycoon Micah Rigg's short-lived Amore Picante on 39th Street, the sweet little Family Table as well as the charming Madame Hatter's Tea Room in Bonner Springs, Sugar Mama's Bakery in Overland Park, the Blue Moose Mountain Grill in Leawood as well as the same company's Los Cabos restaurants in both Leawood and at the Legends complex, the Art of Pizza in Westport, the Le Peep restaurant in Prairie Village, the Genghis Grill in the P&L District, Genghis Grill on Broadway, and the very short-lived B:2 A Burger Boutique in Lee's Summit.
What other loved (or loathed) restaurants closed in 2011 that we're missing in this list? Feel free, Fat City readers, to add to the list in our Comments section.