Waldo Welcomes Waldo Flats!

Being a homeowner isn’t for everyone…many people prefer the “lock and go” convenience of an apartment or condo. However, there are very few apartment/condo complexes in Waldo. That recently changed as Waldo now offers a brand new apartment building, located in the heart of our neighborhood.  222 Waldo Flats recently opened at 222 W 75th St, just steps away from the lively 75th and Wornall intersection, and I stopped by recently to take a look.

Andrew Ganahl and Diane Botwin

Upon entering the spacious lobby, featuring a colorful, commissioned textile art piece,  I was greeted by co- owners Diane Botwin and Andrew Ganahl.  You may have heard of Diane—she owns several commercial properties in Waldo; Andrew is originally from California, now lives in Kansas City and has developed two apartment projects in the Crossroads.  Partnering with Slaggie Architects, they have created   sleek, modern, yet very comfortable flats.   Studios, one bedroom and two bedroom units are available.  Each comes with all the necessary appliances, including washer/dryer, and most have balconies.  There is a secured package room and bike room; parking is available for an extra fee; pets are OK and the building is wired for Google Fiber.  Littlefield Eye Associates has commercial space on the first floor, and there is another smaller spot available for retail or service business.

What impressed me about these apartments are the extra details:  not all are exactly alike. Some have darker cabinets; some have traditional white. There are high end finishes, including tiled showers, quartz counters and large windows (that open!) to bring in plenty of natural light and fresh air.  Even the smaller studio apartments “live”  like a one bedroom unit. Monthly rent starts at $1025. 

Of course, one of the best features of this building is the location.  As Diane said, “Our amenity is Waldo.  Waldo has its own personality and our building fits in.  We have a great group of multigenerational tenants; it’s very inviting to young and old.” Andrew continued:  “We wanted to be in an area where people could walk to everything”.  Within a few steps of the front door: pharmacy, grocery,  library, several restaurants, coffee shop, bike shop,  hardware store, bars and convenient bus stop. Everything Waldo is right here!

If you are interested in touring Waldo Flats, you can request an appointment or find more information on their website

Wine Tasting Room Opens in Waldo

Waldo is known for it’s small specialty shops, restaurants and services.  Now thee is anotherunique new place just opened you should know aboutMarco Polo Selections.  It’s a wine tasting room and event space at 336 W 75th St, a few steps away from the new West Waldo 222 Flats. 

I stopped in recently and spoke with co owners Emily Maher and Nate Riley, who have been friends since high school.  Emily has been raising a family and ran a personal organizing business; Nate has extensive experience working with restaurant suppliers and wine distributors.  One day Nate called Emily saying “I have an idea…..” and Marco Polo Selections was born.

Their tagline is “rare times, rare wines”—and that phrase works on so many levels!  The pandemic has reworked the way we think, play and travel—every moment of a “normal” life is a gift so don’t waste it!  Explore new places, new foods, new wines..and this is a shop where you can get wines you can’t get anywhere else in the city.  Started as an online liquor store, Marco Polo Selections features all “old world wines”,  as Nate explained, from small family run vineyards in  Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey and Argentina.  Wine flights of four varieties are $25, and most bottles range in price from $13-$25.  The space is small, intimate yet casual and very friendly.  “There’s no pretense or intimidation here” said Nathan.  “It’s a big old world out there and we want to help people enjoy it”.

One of the unique features of Marco Polo Selections is you are welcome to bring in your own food:  grab some take out from nearby Jovito’s or Waldo Pizza; or have Uber Eats bring you a meal.  You can take your time tasting various wines while enjoying dinner!  There’s really no other place like this in Kansas City.  You can also  book Marco Polo Selections for a private event, and they have access to the shaded outdoor courtyard in the back for extra space.  Currently the hours are Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4pm-8pm.  Nate explained they were very busy several weeks ago when the mask mandate was dropped and we all thought most of the population would be vaccinated by summer’s end.  Now that the mask mandate is back in place, traffic has dropped off some.  Still, this is a new, locally owned business and the buzz is spreading.  It has a totally different vibe from your usual Waldo bar—a place where you can taste and learn about different wines, have a conversation without shouting and enjoy yourself chatting with friends.

Next time you are looking for something a little different to do–make a visit to Marco Polo Selections at 336 W 75th St. Catch them on Instagram at marcopoloselections.

Taco Cacao Now in Waldo

Just about every week I find myself craving Mexican food…especially in the warmer summer months. Do you feel the same? We have several local options in the Brookside/Waldo area, so why drive into a generic chain for the taco fix? Support Local!

Taco Cacao opened several weeks ago at 7927 Wornall. This is a taco and burrito food truck. Readers, usually I contact the owner/manager to get some background information for the blog–but the contact I had for Taco Cacao did not return my call. So this blog is just the basics…

The food is hot and inexpensive. There are all kinds of taco and burrito combinations, vegetarian included, and all items are to go. Beverages include Coke, Sprite and Jarritto Mexican Soda. There is a picnic table next to the truck–however it’s pretty noisy with all the Wornall traffic whizzing by. I saw several customers eating in their parked cars! Other options include purchasing “family packs” and three salsas by the pound! When I stopped in, it was around 2:30 in the afternoon and for a snack, I ordered a black bean/rice taco topped with guacamole. By the time I got back to my office about ten minutes away–the food was still hot, wrapped tightly in foil inside the styrofoam box. Fresh guac!! The man I spoke with was friendly and service oriented. I’ll be making this a regular stop for a quick lunch or dinner!

This photo above is actually on the building just behind the truck. I was wondering if the food for the truck is cooked inside? But as I was not able to speak with a manager, it’s a mystery–along with why the logo is a pig in a taco??

TacoCacao is located at 7927 Wornall, that’s on east side of Wornall, on the corner next to 79th Terrace. It’s actually easier to park on 79th Terrace and walk up the street to order. The food truck is open Monday – Saturday 11-3 and 5-8; Sundays 11-3. You can order online as well. Thank you for supporting small business in Waldo!

Brookside Farmers Market -Opens Saturday!

Grab your tote bag and get ready for the Brookside Farmers’ Market’s Opening Day on Saturday, April 10, 2021!

The market has been available the past few months on a smaller scale; Saturday marks the season’s opener, featuring more booths and goods ready for purchase. Vendors focus on local and sustainably grown produce, meats, home made baked goods and crafts. Same location: HJ’s Community Center at 6425 Wornall Rd from 8-1pm. The atmosphere is always friendly and welcoming–often you’ll hear some live music as you stroll among the booths.

Please remember to bring a bag to carry your goodies and a mask!

New Shop in Brookside-Locally Owned Brow Bar

Ladies…have you been thinking of sprucing up your look for the warm months ahead…when, hopefully, masks won’t be as necessary and others can see your entire face?!?  And for the gents..do you have a special someone that could use some pampering?  Check out one of Brookside’s newest businesses, Brow Bar, offering “beauty treatments with a spa attitude”.

Brow Bar, 328 W 63rd St

I stopped by Brow Bar recently and talked with owner Tammy Sciara about this new shop that opened in December.  Brow Bar offers all kinds of skincare and beauty services, including cosmetic injectables, microblading, eyelash and brow enhancements, facials, waxing and make up consultations. The store has a welcoming, calm vibe with a very friendly staff that really cater to their clients.  Tammy says “I want my customers to feel fully transported when they come here; I want the shop to feel like a private retreat”.  She even created a special relaxing room in the middle of the space for just that purpose; customers can sit and relax before and after their appointments. 

Brow Bar’s Relaxing Area

In addition to the special beauty services, BrowBar offers several lines of unique, clean products for the face and body:  Leahlani, organic products from Maui; MerSea, a line of candles and diffusers based in Lenexa; Lover cosmetics (founder Ashley Rodden lives in KC and keeps regular hours at Brow Bar for make up consultations),  Soap Cherie,  botanica based body products,   and Savor/Beauty, a small batch, certified organic line of Korean beauty inspired products from New York..  Any woman would enjoy indulging in these clean, fresh make up and body products!

Tammy Sciara

How did BrowBar get started? Tammy explained that after having her second baby, she was busy “chasing around the little ones, more worried about if they ate their breakfast and brushed their teeth than if I looked in the mirror before leaving the house”.   As part of a post baby makeover, she had microblading done.  “The thought of never having to spend time coloring in my brows was heaven!” but the experience of having it done was not what she expected.  “It wasn’t relaxing or service oriented at all. It was actually a bit terrifying!  It got me thinking about all of the beauty services I had done through the years. I knew I could do it in a different way”.  After several months of research, Tammy and her good friend (and co-owner) Nicole Baldwin started Brow Bar.  (Nicole is a semi-permanent make up artist). “I wanted to open a studio that was upscale, modern, relaxing and private at the same time”.   Her first location was in a building on the Plaza and, being a long time Brookside resident herself, decided to switch locations to 63rd St when this spot opened up.  “We have so much more space, as well as the opportunity to sell our unique beauty and skincare products that Brookside needs!”

Stop in Brow Bar the next time you are strolling along 63rd St for a look! A gift certificate to Brow Bar would be a welcome Mother’s Day gift. The address is 328 W. 63rd St, just west of Stuff. 

Celebrate Waldo Week Feb 19-25, 2021

It’s time for the annual Waldo Week celebration, now in it’s sixth year! Starting tomorrow, Feb. 19 and running through Thurs Feb 25, there are all sorts of special deals and discounts to take advantage of in Waldo. This is a perfect time to support your usual favorite shops and restaurants, and an even better time to check out some places you may not have visited before!

Here’s a partial list of participating businesses:

Centered Spirit, Hawthorne and Ivy, Moonshot Hair, Hiles Two, Boru, Jovito’s, Pedego Electric Bikes; Summit Grill/South of Summit, Governor Stumpy’s, SOAP Refill Station, The Well, Waldo Pizza, Teamwork Sports KC, Eclectics.

Check www.waldokc.org for the complete list. There will also be an online auction this year to benefit Cornerstones of Care. Remember, you must mention Waldo Week to get the discount or special deal.

Thank you for supporting our locally owned Waldo businesses!

KC Restaurant Week 2021 Happening Now

I’m happy to report that Kansas City Restaurant Week is still happening this year, and it starts today! You have ten days to sample new places, visit old favorites and support many locally owned eateries that have been struggling during the pandemic. The official dates are Jan 8-17, 2021 and over 100 restaurants are participating this year.

You can dine in, or order take out or have your meal delivered. So easy! Prices are $15 for lunch and $35/$45 for dinner. Make your reservations early for dine in and if you order carry out or delivery, please be patient–these eateries should be very busy this week! Remember, part of the proceeds from each sale benefit the Don Bosco Centers.

Below is a list of the Brookside and Waldo eateries that are participating in KC Restaurant Week. Check this website for specific meal specials, not the individual restaurant website.

Aixois 251 E 55th St

Boru Asian Eatery 500 W 75th St

Charlie Hooper’s 12 W 63rd St

Lew’s Grill and Bar 7539 Wornall

Michael Forbes 128 W 63rd St

Plate Restaurant 701 E 63rd St

South of Summit Taqueria 516 W 75th St

Summit Grill 520 W 75th St

Urban Cafe 5500 Troost

Waldo PIzza 7433 Broadway

The Well 7421 Broadway

Thank you for supporting locally owned Brookside/Waldo restaurants!

The Never-Ending Street Construction in Brookside/Waldo

Hello and Happy 2021!! Hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday break. Now we are in, to me, the most boring time of year. But, we have the Chiefs to cheer on in the playoffs!!!!

OK, down to business. I’m sure you’ve noticed all the construction along several streets in Kansas City:  63rd, Wornall, 75th and Gregory.  I travel these streets every day and have been dodging cones, workers, steel plates and weaving along trying to stay in one skinny lane with oncoming traffic!   What is happening??

How many cones are you dodging each time you drive through our neighborhood?

I called Sean Ackerson, Executive Director of the Southtown Council for more information.  He explained that Spire Gas and their subcontractors are doing utility work along these streets, replacing the 100 year old cast iron main gas lines.  This new high pressure system they are installing creates a more efficient distribution system.

The construction work is taking longer than usual because, well, these projects usually do!  There was a lot of exploratory work in the beginning to find and mark the water and sewer lines so they could map out the new gas pipes. This project started over two years ago—and there’s still several months to go before it’s finished.  And when the winter weather hits, everything stops as the crews can’t work in rain, snow and ice.  I asked Sean if there was a possible end date in sight, and he replied:  “We have the schedule they gave us, but it’s not reliable due to the unpredictability of weather and other scheduled breaks for holidays.”  After the gas lines are set, then the work moves to adjoin the adjacent business and residential properties along these streets to the new main lines.  This can involve moving gas meters outside of the properties as well.

Staging area for supplies along Brookside Road

Another big project planned for Brookside – which has the potential to be even more disruptive—is separating the storm and sanitary sewer lines underground.  This project was mandated by the EPA several years ago—and it’s one reason your water bills go higher and higher.  This will involve ripping up the streets once again.

It’s unfortunate that these major projects can’t be coordinated, so there isn’t so much disruption.  Just be careful and patient when travelling along these streets in Brookside, watching for the workers, cones and detours.  And make an extra effort to support those local businesses who’s storefronts are affected!  Whenever it’s all finished—one year, five years, it’s all needed infrastructure improvement for our neighborhood.

Jovito’s Italian Cafe Now Open in Waldo

There are many food take out options in the Brookside / Waldo area.  Choices include traditional fast food and local eateries offering salads, sandwiches, burgers, tacos, etc.  Last month, Jovito’s Italian Café &Deli opened in the former One More Cup space on Wornall—filling a niche in the area for those wanting something a little different. And who doesn’t like Italian food??

You may remember  Jovito’s at their old location on State Line at 123rd St.  Last summer, the owners decided not to renew the lease and move to Waldo, focusing completely on take out services.  It’s still the same tasty food (and some of the same décor)—long time Kansas Citians may remember Mario’s in Westport, which closed several years ago.  Jovito’s owners bought the business and recipes for the State Line shop.  Popular items include their signature Grinder, stuffed with meatballs or sausage, and the Italian Steak sandwich.  They also have cold sandwiches, several kinds of pasta, salads with homemade dressing and a few dessert selections.  The food has that good, homecooked taste – as the recipes were handed down over the years from an Italian grandma’s kitchen!

Owner Leasa Caron says business has been very , very good!  “I wasn’t aware there was a void for an Italian sandwich shop in this area.  I’ve lived in Waldo 22 years and it’s nice to be back in the neighborhood, close to my home.  The community has made us feel very welcome.” All items are served to go, and in the warmer months there will be a few outdoor tables available to enjoy your meal in the fresh air.  At this time, it’s best to call in your order by phone—Jovito’s does work with some delivery apps but because their food is so fresh and daily specials can sell out quickly—best to call and talk to a human about your order, especially on Fridays and Saturdays.  Service is fast and friendly. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-7pm, with convenient parking in front of the store at 7408 Wornall or in the back parking lot off Washington St.  There’s a small alley off the back lot that takes you to the front of the restaurant. 

Welcome to Waldo, Jovito’s Italian Café and Deli—stop in soon to support yet another locally owned business!

Vegan Mattie’s Foods Opens in Brookside East

It all started with the queso…

Back in 2015, sisters  India Pernell and Arvelisha Woods went from being vegetarians to  vegan. But they craved cheese! So the pair created their own recipe for queso and brought some of it to  their hair salon in Independence.  Customers loved it—and they decided to start selling their creamy comfort food.    Eventually, they developed recipes for vegan nachos too and promoted their goodies at festivals and pop-ups.  More success!  In 2018, they bought a food truck and started catering out of a kitchen commissary, closing the hair salon to focus on their food full time.  Customers wanted a restaurant—India and Arvelisha listened and now you can visit Mattie’s Foods in east Brookside, at 633 E 63rd St.

LiLike every other small business owner, India and Arvelisha had to deal with the pandemic. The lease was signed in August.   “We’ve gone through so many trials and tribulations” Arvelisha explained, “that we knew how to work under pressure.  We just got creative and made it work”.  The restaurant  has been a hit—when  I visited last week after the lunch rush, there was still a steady stream of people coming in after 2pm for a meal.  “We have always loved Brookside and grew up near here.  Brookside has the entrepreneurial spirit and the locals support small business owners.”

So what else is on the menu?  Besides nachos and the infamous queso, Mattie’s offers breakfast, including a biscuit sandwich, pancakes and the popular Mattie bon—a cinnamon roll with fruit flavor options.  Popular lunch items are the brisket sandwich made with tofu, and various types of mac and cheese.  There are no fried foods in this place—and, most items can be made gluten free.  Mattie’s still caters for events and sells family meals, including special vegan meals with a Thanksgiving theme.

As you may  have guessed, Mattie’s is named after the sisters’ beloved grandmother.  They both grew up learning how to cook from Mattie, and as they created the vegan recipes, were inspired by those childhood food memories. 

Mattie’s Foods is open Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9am-3pm; Thursdays and Fridays, 9am-7pm. Stop in for a meal of “comfort food made smart”!