A Case of Déjà Vu

Although all seven Sutera brothers started working in the restaurant business when their father opened Sutera’s Old San Francisco Restaurant in 1976, only two brothers are still in the restaurant game: Charlie Sutera — who runs the restaurant with his wife, Sally — and Joe, who opened Sutera’s West Restaurant last year in Bonner Springs.

Just a lap away from the new NASCAR track, Sutera’s West (140 N. 130th Street, Bonner Springs) is across the street from Sunflower Hills Golf Course and serves similar Italian dishes and the same pizza recipe as the West Bottoms location. “But since this is a destination restaurant, we’re more upscale dining, serving other dinner dishes, like pork chops and steaks,” says Joe, who operates the place with his wife, Mary Ann. Joe hopes the racetrack will bring in plenty of new customers: “Not a lot of people know we’re here — yet,” he says.

Helping customers discover a new restaurant — especially if it’s tucked into some offbeat corner or squeezed into a shopping strip — involves some creativity. When the new French bistro (tentatively to be called Déjà Vu) opens in late April in the Crestwood Shops just east of 55th and Oak, owners Megan Sparks and French-born chef Emanuel Langlade plan to have two entrances — just to be on the safe side. One will be accessible through the newly opened Bloomsday Books, which took over the front section of the former Crestwood Gallery space. (That entrance will be open during the bookstore’s hours.) The official restaurant entrance will be around the building’s west side, past a new patio and newly constructed floor-to-ceiling windows.

Although it was rumored that Sparks and Langlade were taking over the cozy, brick-floored dining room that the cafe in the old Crestwood Gallery once occupied, Sparks says absolutely not: “That space was too small and dark. It’s part of the bookstore. Our dining room takes over the big, spacious room that Crestwood Gallery used to use for special events. It’s quite good-sized. We’ll be able to seat at least seventy diners.”

There’s no bar, though. The liquor license extends only to the dining room.

And unlike the popular French restaurant Le Fou Frog (where Langlade is working until it’s time to install the kitchen at his own restaurant), no smoking — Gitanes, Gauloises or domestic cigarettes — will be allowed in the new place. “The restaurant will be small enough that any smoking would be unpopular for most of our customers,” says Sparks. “Besides, our neighbor is a bookstore, and I know that having customers smoking would make the owner quite uncomfortable. Can you blame him? If people need to smoke, they can go out on the patio.”

And here’s a restaurant that’s not opening, despite appearances to the contrary. A sign painted on the window at the corner of Westport Road and Southwest Trafficway says “Coming soon: Hambone.” But Hambone, when it opens on March 1, will be selling posters, not ham. Owner Andy Thomas is moving his business, formerly called the Poster Gallery, from its longtime location across the street from Westport’s Classic Cup to just a few doors down from the Stolen Grill.

“I know it sounds like a restaurant,” says Thomas, “and someday I hope to open a restaurant. And, yes, if I do, it will be called Hambone.”

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