The Sundry Market & Kitchen hosts grand opening on Saturday

The 10-seat communal table near the counter of the new Sundry Market & Kitchen, at 1706 Baltimore, was completely full during the lunch shift today, with patrons eating house-made pastrami sandwiches on chef Aaron Prater’s fresh-baked rye, a salad with red-lentil falafel or steaming bowls of polenta.

The prepared foods and hot meals are major components of this new Crossroads grocery store, opened last week by Prater and his very tall — 6-foot-6-inch — business partner, Ryan Wing.

Prater and Wing are waiting on more retail items — all food — to stack on the shelves of their combination grocery store, cafe and takeout shop. Prater will introduce a new menu of carryout meals next week.

Today, the focus is on this Saturday’s open house, to be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We’ll be offering a lot of samples,” Prater says, “of both the locally produced products we carry, like jellies and preserves from the Kansas City Canning Co., and items from our own kitchen. We’ll have tastes of our cinnamon rolls, our Cuban sandwich and pastrami. It’s our way of introducing ourselves to the community.”

Prater and Wing met while they were both working at Johnson County Community College (Prater is still teaching classes for the school’s culinary program, from which he graduated in 2008), and Wing was researching a project on restaurants adopting sustainable practices.

They’ve put those ideas into real-life practice in the Sundry kitchen.

“It’s not a zero-waste kitchen yet,” Prater says, “but that’s our goal. We’re using no gas in the kitchen — it’s all electric, and we’ll have solar panels installed on the roof of the building by the end of the year.”

It’s a brand-new life for a Crossroads building that sat vacant for over a decade. When a broker first showed them the 1706 Baltimore space, he warned them: “If [owner] Shirley Helzberg doesn’t like your idea, this won’t be a go.”

But Helzberg, a longtime advocate for the Crossroads neighborhood, was sold on the idea of providing a convenient food market and cafe for residents of the urban neighborhood and people working in the Crossroads.

“We couldn’t have done the build-out without Shirley Helzberg,” says Prater, who took out, with Wing, two loans to complete the space.

“It wasn’t in such great shape,” Wing says. “There were walls that needed to be removed, leaky plumbing, bad wiring.”

But the completed market, designed by Blackbird Design Studio and Helix Architecture + Design, is a clean, open room with a “chalkboard wall” where Prater will create a map of the local and regional providers of their products, as well as updates on specials and featured dishes.”

Prater and Wing feel that most of their cafe business will be carryout, which is why there is only the communal table and a few chairs at a counter at a window facing the patio (which will, next summer, offer an additional 36 seats). “But we may have to rethink that,” Prater says. “We’re having more people come in who want to eat here.” 

Sundry Market & Kitchen is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Categories: Dining, Music