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Juicy’s Burgers and Spirits opens at Zona Rosa

Updated: 2013-03-26T14:44:01Z

By JOYCE SMITH

The Kansas City Star

Burger addicts, add the Fried Egg Burger to your list.

A server at the new Juicy’s Burgers and Spirits highly recommended the Fried Egg Burger, a juicy burger topped with American cheese, slice of fried Spam and egg sunny side up - saying she was practically addicted. She ordered one for herself right after I bought one to-go.

After a couple of bites I could see why she craves them.

In an industry increasingly crowded with upscale burger operations, Juicy’s owner, Michael Howell, is trying to set his new operation apart by offering a juicier product than some of his competitors. Juicy’s cooks fry the burgers on a flattop grill, under a dome.

At this kitchen, using a spatula to flatten down the burgers and hurry up the cooking process is forbidden.

“You really have to let the burgers cook in their own juices,” Howell said. “The more times you handle the product the more flavor you are pushing out.”

Howell, a founder of the former 77 South in Leawood, recently opened Juicy’s in Zona Rosa, 8680 N.W. Prairie View Road, with an emphasis on freshness. Vegetables are locally grown, breads and burger buns baked fresh daily, and sauces and condiments, including ketchup and mustard, are made from scratch. The restaurant also has signature shakes like The Valentine (chocolate ice cream, fresh strawberries and chocolate syrup topped with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and strawberries).

Along with the Fried Egg Burger, options include the Peanut Butter Slam (a burger topped with thick-cut bacon, creamy peanut butter and blackberry jam), the Buffalo Supreme (a burger smothered in house-made Buffalo sauce, Maytag blue cheese crumbles, and thick-cut bacon), and the Vegetarian (vegetable patty, alfalfa sprouts, dill slices and garlic aioli).

The menu also includes appetizers, soups, sandwiches, entree salads, and dinners like the Apple Raisin Pork Chops with seasonal vegetables.

Juicy’s Burgers and Spirits is in the former Tomfooleries Restaurant & Bar space. Howell remodeled it to make it more of a restaurant, including separating the dining and bar areas. After 9:30 p.m. it will turn more into a bar and has a new stage and sound system for live music on some nights. A happy hour menu also is available from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close Sunday through Thursday. The second floor is available for private events.

“Kids, 12-and-under, eat free with the purchase of an adult entree. I think that will resonate with people,” Howell said. “I think it will really draw families in and change the environment. We want to be known for food first, bar second.”

Brookside honors one of its own.

The late Leon Goodhart was a long-time Brookside business owner and advocate for the area. He passed away in June 2012 at the age of 82. Now a chunk of property he owned and managed at 63rd Street and Brookside Plaza, which is still in the family, has been dedicated as Leon Goodhart Way.

Goodhart spent the war years in a Polish labor camp with his mother, moving to the U.S. in 1949 and worked for his great uncle’s Country Club Shoe Store. He later took over the business and operated it until he retired in the late 1990s, serving several generations over the years.

“America was the land I dreamed about,” Goodhart later told his children.

Quick bite

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers plans to open a new Lee’s Summit restaurant. It will construct a new building at 194 N.W. Oldham Parkway on the site of a former Waid’s. The Wichita based company hopes to open the restaurant later this summer. The company currently has 89 locations.

To reach Joyce Smith, call 816-234-4692 or send email to jsmith@kcstar.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at JoyceKC.

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