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Bo Lings moves to Skelly Building on Plaza

By JOYCE SMITH
The Kansas City Star

Bo Lings has longed for a place on the Country Club Plaza.

Now it has one.

But in an interesting twist, it bypassed its longtime Board of Trade building landlord — Highwoods Properties, which also owns the Plaza — and leased space in one of the few Plaza buildings not owned by Highwoods: the Skelly Building.

On Monday, the Chinese restaurant opened in a 12,000-square-foot space at 4701 Jefferson St.

And oh, what a change.

Despite a couple of remodels, the old location for the past 25 years at 4800 Main St. near the Plaza was dated but still comfortable and cozy. The new restaurant? A visual treat throughout, from the waterfall wall in the waiting area to the colorful LED-backlit glass to the bathroom sinks custom carved out of boulders.

On the east side is a long marble-topped bar and the “Street Grill and Noodle Bar,” where quick-bite comfort food is whipped up while patrons watch — noodles, dim sum and satay.

The dining room features long booths on the west side, along with tables with plush red seats. Along the north wall are private dining rooms that can seat up to 15 people each or open up for parties of up to 60 people. Black screens separate the private rooms from the public dining room but offer views to both areas.

The screens represent the old China, while a glass wall of different sized “skyscrapers” is a nod to the new China.

Carry-out is a large part of the restaurant’s business. So Bo Lings now has a larger to-go counter on the north side with a waiting area and a dozen 15-minute to-go parking spaces. It also offers curb-side service, and customers can order online.

Owners Richard and Theresa Ng worked for Theresa’s parents’ restaurant, the Dragon Inn in downtown Overland Park, before opening their first Bo Lings in Overland Park in 1981. He was 25, she was 24. They now have two Overland Park restaurants, along with locations in City Market, Lenexa and the Northland.

Ng said the Board of Trade building was a top restaurant spot when Main Street was one of the city’s top thoroughfares. But later, part of Main Street was blocked, and traffic was diverted elsewhere. Bo Lings then became more dependant on its established customers.

The Ngs began looking at Plaza spaces, hoping to pick up foot traffic, but some spaces were out of their budget or the timing was off. Then P.F. Chang’s China Bistro opened on the Plaza.

So the Ngs put a relocation on hold — until David Block, president of Block and Co. Inc. Realtors, proposed a spot. Block had leased the first Bo Lings location to the Ngs in one of his first retail developments in Overland Park and they had remained friends for more than three decades.

“We wouldn’t have done this deal with anyone but David,” Richard Ng said. “He helped us with the other leases, so we have a close business relationship.”

About half of the expansive kitchen space is devoted to catering operations, and Bo Lings also is expanding its custom cake business. The couple’s two children, Rebecca and Raymond, also are in the business.

“We do what we like to do. This is our passion,” Ng said. “We want to serve authentic Chinese food in a comfortable and up-to-date environment. Not a stereotype decor.”

The Skelly Building is owned by local investors and a 5,500-square-foot space on the east side is still available.

Quick bites

• El Agave Azul, a locally owned Mexican restaurant, has opened at 1605 S. Missouri 7 in Blue Springs. The owners also are brothers-in-law and natives of Mexico, and use old family recipes.

• Marco’s Pizza will have its grand opening today at 1918 N.E. 72nd St., Gladstone. It will serve Italian pizza, chicken wings, fresh-baked subs, meatballs, salads and more. It is owned by the franchisee for the Family Video store in the same strip center, and the two operations will soon offer a pizza and video delivery service. Family Video and Marco’s Pizza also have combo stores in many other markets.

• Colliers International is leasing the former Jardine’s spot at 4536 Main St. It said it would like a similar tenant as the restaurant and jazz club but would consider other options.

Cityscape runs Tuesdays and Fridays. To reach Joyce Smith, call 816-234-4692 or send email to jsmith@kcstar.com. Follow her at twitter.com/joycekc. Cityscape runs Tuesdays and Fridays. To reach Joyce Smith, call 816-234-4692 or send email to jsmith@kcstar.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/joycekc.

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