Cityscape

New Waldo bar and grill set to open around Labor Day weekend

Updated: 2013-06-12T01:02:07Z

By JOYCE SMITH

The Kansas City Star

Waldo’s The Gaf Bar & Grill closed in May, but new owners picked up the keys last week and plan to open a new concept there on Labor Day weekend.

The name hasn’t been determined but might be something like “District,” to tie in the Waldo and Brookside neighborhoods.

Co-owner Daniel McCall lives just blocks from the Gaf space with his wife, Jenny, and their 6-month-old son Oliver. He was most recently manager at The Classic Cup on the Country Club Plaza and before that general manager of Coach’s Bar & Grill in south Kansas City.

Co-owner/operator Jason Rourke has built a strong following as lead bartender at both Lew’s Grill & Bar and The Well in Waldo.

While Waldo restaurants are not often known for their seafood, the new partners plan to change that. They also have started working on the space and will open it up so some of the energy from the front bar will be felt in the back dining room. The outdoor patio also will be expanded.

Final touches for the new restaurant and bar, at 7122 Wornall Road, will include some memorabilia from the Gaf and its predecessor Romanelli Grill to remind customers of the space’s long history as a neighborhood gathering place.

Romanelli Grill first shows up in the city directory in 1936 and some sources put the opening in 1935. It was a neighborhood mainstay until mid-2005 when Ray Dunlea and James O’Brien took it over, remodeling and updating it for a new bar and restaurant called The Gaf (Irish slang for ‘a chat’).

The Gaf kept some Romanelli favorites, like the deep-fried catfish, and introduced items like calamari, chicken curry and pan-roasted salmon.

“It was more of a labor of love than a labor of economics,” said Dunlea.

He considered downsizing the space, but that would have taken additional construction funds.

“I’m too old, fat and tired. I just don’t have the energy,” he said. Dunlea also is a partner in Mike’s Tavern on Troost and Conroy’s Public House in Overland Park, as well as two bars in New York, and a bagel factory in Ireland.

His mother suffered a stroke in early May and passed away in Ireland later in the month. Dunlea has been back and forth and will continue to be as he settles her estate.

“I’ve been stretched to the max,” he said.

Quick bites

•  Burlington Coat Factory plans an Oct. 11 opening for a new 60,000-square-foot store a Blue Ridge Crossing East, 11910 E. U.S. 40, Independence. The Burlington store will offer brand-name merchandise for the family and home with savings up to 65 percent. It also is opening a new Overland Park store this fall.

The developer of Blue Ridge Crossing, at U.S. 40 and Interstate 70, also is targeting a fast food or full-service restaurant for one pad site. The other parcel on the site will be developed into a 12,500-square-foot multi-tenant strip center, with tenants ranging from 1,500 to 3,500-square-feet.

•  Culver’s opened Monday at 4220 S. Little Blue Parkway, Independence.

•  Family Dollar is expanding in the metro. It plans to open a new store at 55th Street and Prospect Avenue this summer, on the site of a former Family Dollar store and across the street from a large new Phillips 66 convenience store and gas station.

A location at 1131 Brush Creek Blvd., is slated to open in the fall and a location at 1999 N. 63rd Drive in Kansas City, Kan., is scheduled to open in the first half of 2014.

•  Westlake Ace Hardware said it will not renew the lease for its Belton store at 1735 E. North Ave. The company said the store’s “financial performance has not been at the level necessary to enter into a new long-term lease agreement.” The store is scheduled to close on June 30.

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

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