New leadership of a beloved neighborhood restaurant does not come without its challenges, as Café Europa’s new owner Ben Cascio is learning firsthand.
This past August, the restaurateur acquired ownership of both Café Europa locations, taking over operations from long-time chef and owner Nate Feldmiller. Now, he is ready now to focus on just one location.
Cascio quickly closed the second Café Europa location at Union Hill in April, after a conversation with Union Hill neighborhood developer Bob Frye, the landlord who owns the building that housed the almost three-year-old restaurant.
“The Crestwood Café Europa has always enjoyed a loyal neighborhood following, and we never developed that same following at Union Hill,” says Cascio. “There is a younger demographic that lives and works in the Union Hill neighborhood, and to appeal to them we would have had to become two different restaurants, which did not make sense for the Café Europa brand.”
Frye and Cascio came to an agreement that allowed him to quickly close the restaurant so that Frye could start the search for a new tenant for the space. The practically brand-new restaurant space offers a private dining room, outdoor seating, coffee/cocktail bar and a full commercial and pastry kitchen.
The Union Hill Café Europa location also suffered considerable staff turnover since last fall – something that Cascio says has not happened at the Crestwood location. “Our executive chef Tom Tabone is now at Crestwood along with our wonderful longtime pastry chef, Anna Morrow,” Cascio says. “We have a really solid culinary team right now at Crestwood; I am very pleased with them.”
Cascio is planning some upscale changes for the remaining Café Europa in Crestwood, especially in the evenings. He is currently working on rolling out a reserve wine list for guests to shop in addition to the restaurant's regular list, while the chef is working on a brand-new summer menu.
The service teams are working on the steps of fine-dining service to elevate the experience for guests, and that includes adding a host stand and dressing the tables in linen every night for service.
“Now that we have our entire team, from the back of the house to the front of the house, located in the same building, it feels we are a much more integrated group,” says Cascio. “We are ready to show people a wonderful time at our Crestwood location.”
Café Europa at the Crestwood Shops, 323 E. 55th St., Kansas City, Missouri, 816.523.1212, cafeeuropakc.com