As Kansas City starts to venture out after months spent in quarantine binging favorite shows and cooking comfort food at home, a new temple of delicious wellness has opened, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
Billie’s Grocery is a new whole foods restaurant, bakery, coffee shop and cocktail bar from Unbakery and Juicery owner Robin Krause. The new concept shares a space with Apothé, a modern apothecary, and The Luzier, a culinary classroom and cooking school that Krause opened last week in the historic and visually stunning Luzier Building in Midtown.
No stranger to the Kansas City food scene, Krause is a serial restaurateur who started Filling Station Coffee in 2004, growing it to four locations, and Soho Bakery, before she sold the business to the folks at Messenger Coffee, keeping a financial stake.
“At that point, I wanted to focus on building my wellness practice, so I went back to school to get my degree to be a nutritional therapist and health coach, and in order to support my family, I needed to either make a job or find a job while I was in school, so I decided to make a job and opened Unbakery and Juicery,” says Krause.
With her degree completed, she was finally ready to bring together all of the things she loved under one roof: a clean food café, coffee shop and bakery that sells her own line of cold-pressed juices, H2O waters and “mylks” along with several other items made in her kitchen.
At Apothé, Krause stocks a full line of healing adaptogenic herbs, tinctures and teas that can help ease pain, build the immune system or even help with relaxation, creating a greater sense of wellbeing.
“Here, I wanted to create a place where customers could either drop by or schedule an appointment to meet with a member of my staff to discuss any health or wellness issues they might have, and we will either recommend something from our current product line or create a custom tea or tincture to address their individual issue,” she says.
Working with Christopher Elbow, Krause recently launched a new chocolate bar under the Apothé brand that is 75 percent dark chocolate with CBD and adaptogenic herbs blended together to help boost mood.
Now, with her new 125-seat, 5,000-square-foot space, Krause’s intention is to give people options to eat and drink the way they want – Billie’s Grocery caters to everyone. Krause is currently offering a limited menu, which she plans to expand with more dishes moving forward.
For now, the café offers a breakfast/brunch menu and an all-day menu, which both focus on serving clean, whole food items that cater to both meat-lovers as well as those who prefer a plant-based diet.
For breakfast, consider the flavorful Phat Bomb Avocado Toast on sourdough topped with beet hummus, avocado, herb butter, soft egg, heirloom tomato, coconut oil, microgreens, olive oil and sea salt that should fuel your morning with healthy fats.
You'll find classics like eggs, bacon and toast alongside more complex items like a salmon mezze bowl featuring smoked salmon, hard-boiled pink egg, organic wild greens, sourdough toast or gluten-free baguette, house pickled onion and chive crème fraîche.
Those needing something sweet should consider the overnight oats or a full list of smoothies with inspired flavors. There is also a tantalizing selection of mostly dairy-free and grain-free baked goods in the bakery case, including whole cakes, cupcakes, tarts, protein balls, cookies and bars made by chef Amber Abram and decorated by chef Courtney Kinzel.
The all-day menu starts with a generous gluten-free and vegan sesame-ginger watermelon salad that is speckled with charred green onion, sesame seeds and fresh mint.
Look for a raw veggie bowl, a Thai-inspired noodle bowl and a dairy- and gluten-free Lazy Sushi Bowl that comes with brown rice, quinoa, seaweed, nori, edamame, avocado, ginger, coriander, kimchi, cabbage, poke sauce, sashimi grade tuna, sesame oil and sesame seeds.
The handheld portion of the menu finds more meat with a miso wild-caught salmon Club sandwich, grass-fed butter burger and a deli-style Reuben that all come with either fries, chips or a side salad.
New for Krause is the cocktail bar, which she plans to open as soon as her liquor license arrives. Guests will have the option to enjoy a glass of wine, beer or a cocktail with friends, and Krause promises that the cocktail menu will use plenty of her fresh-pressed juices and flavorful infusions.
“Billie’s Grocery represents all of the places I have traveled to and all of the things that I have personally learned about eating, nutrition and health over the last few years,” she says. “There are pieces of it inspired by places I’ve been to in L.A., New Zealand, Australia and Rome.”
The building itself was a labor of love for Kansas City developer Butch Rigby and features eye-catching, colorful terra cotta trim and a red tile roof. The building was originally designed by one of Kansas City’s prolific architects of her time, Nelle Peters. Rigby brought it back to life with help from local architect Amy Slattery and architectural historian Cydney Millstein, who helped restore the building to its original glory.
Inside, the dining space is clean and white featuring polished cement floors, light wood tables and chairs with black accents and green plants that all reads very natural – just like the food. Food and drinks can be taken to-go, enjoyed in the spacious dining room and, soon, on the outside patio.
The cooking school and culinary classroom sits next door to the dining room inside of Billie’s Grocery. It's headed up by chef Ashley Bare, who hosts interactive culinary cooking classes weekly, teaching people everything from knife skills to how to make bone broth to full meals that everyone will enjoy together at the end of class.
Named in honor of Krause’s late father with a menu that is a study in balanced eating and drinking, Billie’s Grocery brings good food and drinks together with mind and body wellness and educational opportunities, making it feel like nothing else in Kansas City.
Billie’s Grocery is open Monday through Saturday from 8am to 3pm. The restaurant is closed on Sunday.
Billie's Grocery, 3216 Gillham Plaza, Suite 100, Midtown, Kansas City, Missouri, billiesgrocery.com