Tables in Waiting

When Tom Johnson left Hallmark’s Culinary Concepts unit to start his own little restaurant empire, he opened the Sushi House (5041 West 117th Street in Leawood) and bought the five-year-old La Dolce Vita (see review). He revamped the latter restaurant’s menu but kept the name and the culinary style intact.

That’s not typically the case when a new owner buys a restaurant. In fact, for Lee’s Summit’s new Victorian Peddler, new owners meant the third personality change in less than a year.

Last March, the former bar-and-burger joint called Mojo’s — located in the century-old former lumber mill at 302 Main Street — got a facelift, a real chef and a new name, The Cork & Grille. I reviewed the restaurant and chef Brandon Crain‘s cuisine two months later (“Cork in the Road,” May 9), but after another three months, that concept was history.

That’s because the location was taken over by Mark Clark, owner of Lexington, Missouri’s nine-year-old Victorian Peddler, a combination restaurant and gift shop. Clark spent a month remodeling the Cork & Grille space before opening his first Kansas City outpost in September. The place looks like a gift shop that also serves food, which is precisely the idea. Everything in the dining room has a price tag. “Even the tables and chairs are for sale,” Clark says.

The 130-seat restaurant serves lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Chef Andy Theroff has created an eclectic menu that combines continental cuisine (miniature beef Wellington, spanakopita, chicken Marsala) with good ol’ American dishes like prime rib and Southern fried chicken.

Over in Mission, the owners of Chacko’s Bakery (6001 Johnson Drive) — David and Rachel Finn — don’t want to sell the extra tables they’re putting out for the Supper Club dinners they’re offering one night a month. Even with additional seating, the tiny bakery holds only 35 guests. But that’s just the number of patrons the Finns want for the intimate, French-inspired meal that David, the chef, serves November 8, featuring coq au vin and pumpkin crème brûlée served in real pumpkins.

“These dinners are a chance for David and our staff to recharge their creative batteries,” Rachel says. “David loves making pastries, but he is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy and worked in a lot of restaurants before we opened Chacko’s.”

The four-course dinners, priced at $40 a person, include cocktails and wines and have a different theme each month — except December, when there won’t be a Supper Club. “We have too much bakery business during the holiday season,” Rachel says. “But we will be doing a Valentine’s theme in February.”

And in March, Rachel — a native of Vellore, India — has penciled in a dinner of Southern Indian cuisine. She does the cooking that night.

“I need a chance to be creative, too,” she says.

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