Dining » Fat Mouth

Coffee Clash

Brookside loses one lunch place but gains a café with a pedigree.

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For some time, Danny O'Neill has been Kansas City's own "Mister Coffee," thanks to his charismatic personality and the great success of his coffee roasting and sales empire called The Roasterie. Now he has opened a free-standing coffeehouse, the Roasterie Café (6223 Brookside Boulevard), and his cup really runneth over. He has earned rave reviews for the coffee drinks, the service, and the look and feel of the new Brookside building. But high marks eluded its salads and sandwiches. "The comment cards we received from customers were never positive about the food," O'Neill says. "People either didn't think it was very good, or they didn't like eating out of a plastic box. So we realized that it was just getting in the way."

So on December 2, the Roasterie Café stopped serving its sandwiches and salads, which were prepared by the commercial-strength food operation TreatAmerica. The pastries, which O'Neill says customers love, are staying. Lon Lane, Kansas City's favorite society caterer, provides the cookies, brownies, scones and muffins for the coffee joint.

"We hosted focus groups before we opened, and so many people said, 'Oh, we'd love a new lunch place in Brookside.' But it's not really what our regular customers wanted," O'Neill says. "And we're not a restaurant. We're all about coffee."

But all is not lost. For diners who still long for a new lunch spot in the Brookside area, caterer Jo Marie Scaglia opens her new all-day café concept, The Mixx, in mid-December. OK, so it's a dozen or so blocks north of Brookside and located in the Plaza Colonnade building (4855 Main). Still, The Mixx will offer a "light" breakfast of pastries, granola and yogurt on weekdays starting at 7 a.m. From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Scaglia's place will offer a more elaborate menu of sandwiches, salads and soups — seven days a week.

It will be a counter-service operation with an open kitchen where employees will mix salads or make sandwiches based on a customer's choice of ingredients. And it will feature a daily pasta special, of course, because Scaglia is the daughter of the legendary Mario Scaglia, who operated Mario's on the Plaza for 20 years.

The best news (for this writer, anyway, who hates plastic forks and plates) is that the 75-seat café plans to use real china and metal utensils. Customers who take their meals to go will get the plastic stuff.

Jo Marie is opening The Mixx with her brother, Phil Scaglia, and has scaled back her other business, Modern Catering, to get the new joint up and running.

Oh, The Mixx will be serving its own blend of coffee, too — made special by, you guessed it, Danny O'Neill.

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