This was the year that Mohamed and Chef Kholoud “Kay” Bataineh, owners of Queens Sweets & Bakery in North Kansas City, decided to open a second location of their Lebanese and Jordanian restaurant and bakery on the other side of the state line.

Opening in the former Nazareth Sweets location in Lenexa, their new restaurant is located in the middle of a strip center between Quivira Road and Monrovia Street, right on 87th Street Parkway known for its wealth of independently-owned Middle Eastern food destinations.

Adding their own flavor and spice to the shopping destination, the Batainehs decided to go ahead and change the name of both their locations to Queen Sweets and Mediterranean Grill to clearly communicate that they serve both hand-made sweet treats and delicious home-cooked savory Middle Eastern dishes.

“This space was perfect for our second location as it has a much bigger kitchen and dining room for our guests to enjoy,” says Kay. “I’ve had good luck with opening up inside of bakeries, as they typically have good kitchens and full-size display cases for all of my homemade pastries.”

The couple spent the start of the pandemic painting the walls of their new restaurant a bright yellow, with Kay spending her evenings in front of the sewing machine, hand sewing all of the pillows that line the banquette seating. The result is a comforting and colorful dining room that looks like the big sister to their first location up North.

“Once we were finished remodeling the space, we went ahead and opened for carryout and delivery via phone apps,” says Kay. “I wanted to start getting the word out that we were open with two locations to serve our guests.”

Having operated in North Kansas City for many years, Queens Sweets developed a loyal following for Chef Kay’s cuisine. What started as a small Middle Eastern bakery with Chef Kay making traditional baklava, crunchy and chewy Nabulsi kanafeh with its layers of noodles, soaked in sweet syrup that sits on top cheese and ma’amoul cookies filled with sticky dates or soft ground walnuts or pistachios, soon blossomed into a full-fledged restaurant with raving fans that appreciated both the warm hospitality and quality Lebanese and Jordanian dishes.

“I do not take short cuts in my dishes, I only use the highest quality ingredients,” says Kay. “It has an impact on the flavor and texture of each dish that you can taste, so I make sure my food and bakery items are made with the best ingredients, because that is how I cook for my own family.”

On the savory side of the menu, guests will find a wide selection of casual Middle Eastern favorites done with skilled finesse, including a creamy hummus and smoky baba ghanoush plate with warm pita, flavorful falafel sandwiches or shawarma sandwich with fries with either a lamb, beef or chicken.

For dinner, look for family-style entrees piled high with grilled meats like their Big Mashawi Mix Plate, serving six skewers each of grilled fresh lamb, chicken and kafta shish kabobs with slices of beef, lamb and chicken shawarmas. The proteins are served alongside grilled seasonal veggies, saffron rice, a side of hummus and fresh pita bread.

One of their signature entrees, and the national dish of Jordan, is mansaf, bone-in lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt and served with yellow rice. The tangy dish is something that many of their regulars call ahead to order for a special dine-in treat, and it should not be missed.

The Batainehs hope to add a delicious Middle Eastern breakfast or brunch to their offerings at their Lenexa location the future, serving a mix of small savory plates, a few sweet treats and strong Turkish coffee or tea to drink.

Plans for the future look bright for Queens Sweets; the couple has set their sights on opening their third location downtown in the next few years.

“I am fortunate that I have a great team at our North Kansas City location that I have trained to make all of my dishes,” says Kay. “I plan is to be here in Lenexa at this location for a year and a half to train the staff in Lenexa, and then we hope to open a third location somewhere downtown.”

Queens Sweets and Mediterranean Grill is open in North Kansas City and in Lenexa for socially distanced dine-in or carryout and delivery.

Queen Sweets and Mediterranean Grill, 12247 W. 87th Street Parkway, Lenexa, KS, 913.232.8721, queensweetsofmediterranean.com