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Bread and Butter Concepts’ Alan Gaylin named Restaurateur of the Year

01/17/2014 9:19 AM

01/18/2014 9:40 PM

Alan Gaylin has been in the restaurant business nearly all of his life.

From waiting tables at Pelican’s Restaurant during his years at the University of Texas, to moving up through the ranks of Kansas City-based Houlihan’s, where he was part of that company’s rebranding, to the creation of Bread and Butter Concepts here in 2009.

Gaylin said from the beginning, his intention was to establish a restaurant group that can grow throughout the Midwest. Bread and Butter has certainly grown throughout Kansas City.

With Gram and Dun, two BRGR Kitchen + Bars, Urban Table and the most recently added Taco Republic, Bread and Butter has become a force to deal with on the Kansas City restaurant scene, and more than that, an integral part of the Kansas City community.

“My wife, Bridget, grew up here and is very close with her family. So, getting close to her roots was really important to us,” Gaylin told me.

Bridget Grams, Gaylin’s wife, is a St. Teresa’s Academy and University of Missouri graduate, and a very successful business person in her own right, restructuring leases for large commercial and restaurant clients. She is also the proud owner, along with Gaylin, of a Shih Tzu named Behr.

Beyond family ties, there were other factors involved with the move here.

“It was 2009, and the economy was fairly stable in Kansas City, especially compared with other parts of the country.” Gaylin said. “We felt like the restaurant community was growing, but there was plenty of opportunity for local, high quality and creative concepts.”

Gaylin said the goal is to become a mid-sized regional restaurant company based in the Midwest, believing this market is the right fit for Bread and Butter’s creative, unique, culinary-driven concepts.

“Each concept has a niche and serves loyal patrons from neighborhood regulars to destinations diners, and there’s a reason for that. What we’re offering is an experience: from the food, to the décor, to the service, we strive to make sure the people know we’re creating those experiences at each one of our concepts,” said Gaylin.

Bread and Butter, Gaylin said, works hard to market the brands and it starts immediately. They start building brands months before opening and continue right through opening and beyond. Whether it’s the concepts, the marketing, the food, the service or the whole package, there can be no arguing Bread and Butter Concepts is asuccess. Gaylin said they’re nowhere near done.

“We have a couple of concept ideas on the front burner, and those will show up when the appropriate space and time come together,” he said. “Three’s also room for expansion of our current brands. Our goal is a little different. We find the location and then evaluate what it needs conceptually. That could mean something new or an existing concept.”

Gaylin has been rewarded for his work, both financially and on personally. Just last Saturday, he received the award for Restaurateur of the Year from the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association — high praise for a man who’s restaurant group is a mere five years old. Gaylin is aware of the speed of his, and Bread and butter’s ascent, and is thrilled with the honor.

“It’s an unexpected honor that I don’t take lightly. It’s hard to put into words beyond how awesome it feels,” Gaylin admitted.

Finally, some thoughts about Restaurant Week, which kicks off Friday and runs through Jan. 26. All of the of the Bread and Butter restaurants are participating, so they, and Gaylin personally, are big backers.

“We like to give Restaurant Week diners the chance to come in and try something they perhaps haven’t tried before and to get a special deal on top of it. The fact that proceeds benefit Harvesters Community Food Network, GKCRA’s (Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association) Education Foundation, and KCRDDF (The Kansas City Regional Destination Development Foundation) is icing on the cake,” said Gaylin. “It’s an awesome event for an awesome cause!”

Awesome. A nice way to sum things up for Alan Gaylin and Bread and Butter Concepts.

Dave Eckert is the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS-TV and Wealth TV for 12 seasons, or nearly 300 half-hour episodes produced on six continents. Eckert is also an avid wine collector and aficionado, having amassed a personal wine cellar of some 2,000 bottles.

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