The driving force behind new Northland pub

07/29/2014 7:00 AM

07/29/2014 12:00 PM

After Nick Broja and Nino Sokoli opened Nick and Nino’s Transportation service a decade ago in the Northland, they often dropped off and picked up customers at Final Approach Bar & Grill.

When the restaurant shut down, they would drive by the empty 6,000-square-foot space and consider the possibilities.

Finally, the longtime friends decided to team up on another business, opening sports bar Nick & Nino’s Pub in the Final Approach space, at 10024 N.W. Ambassador Drive, in mid-June.

They’ve remodeled the space, adding a game room with pool tables, dart boards and a few arcade games, plus an outdoor deck in back.

Chef Kelly Love said her menu is mostly made-from-scratch items, including her sauces and her hand-patted hamburgers. It also includes specialty sandwiches, entree salads, soups, pasta and dinners.

The most popular item on the menu so far is the fried stuffed mushrooms appetizer (hand-breaded portabello caps stuffed with jalapeno ranch cream cheese and served with creamy horseradish dipping sauce).

But Nick & Nino’s Pub also offers such items as jumbo bone-in chicken wings, BBQ Ham Club (ham, cheddar and Pepperjack cheese, sliced tomato, pickles, mayonnaise and house barbecue sauce), shrimp and sea scallops pasta (with a lemon butter sauce over angel hair pasta), and a 14-ounce rib eye.

Nick & Nino’s also offers specials on food and drinks during happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays, and live music several nights a week.

“Nick and Nino are known in the Northland. We have been driving these guys around for 10 years,” Sokoli said.

Leaving the corporate world behind

One day in 2011, Steven Webb put some coffee beans in a popcorn popper and started a new hobby.

Less than a month later, Webb entered and won a local home-based coffee-roasting contest. That was all the encouragement he needed to quit his job at Sprint.

“I’m not too much for the corporate world. I did that for many, many years,” Webb said. “I wanted something easier. Easier on the soul. So I decided to follow my dream and see where it takes me. It’s been a whirlwind at times.”

Webb and his wife, Shondi, began selling their Red-Headed Philosopher Coffee online and at area farmers markets. They named it after Steven’s red hair and love of critical thought.

Now they’ve teamed up with canihaveabite at 8011B Wornall Road. Canihaveabite offers a seasonal carry-out menu made from local and organic ingredients.

Red-Headed Philosopher sells several styles of freshly roasted specialty coffee drinks, including pour over, drip and cold brew, as well as tea, chai, lemonade, and milk. The Webbs plan to add espresso drinks and other menu items later. Shondi Webb created the logo for their coffee, and she plans to hang some of her artwork, as well as works by other artists, in the new shop.

“We hope to inspire people, to give them a place to talk about life over a cup of coffee,” Steven Webb said.

Red-Headed Philosopher also sells snacks from canihaveabite, and plans to add espresso drinks and other items soon.

Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. It is closed Sunday and Monday.

Canihaveabite’s founder, Kathy Hale, is also a longtime Pilates instructor.

Hale wanted her private Pilates clients to have a healthier diet. In 2009 she started a Facebook page, canihaveabite, where she offered recipes, educational articles on organic foods and farming, and other “nerdy food information.”

“But I knew they weren’t going to do it unless I sort of started force-feeding them. Then they would try it, and they would say, ‘Can you just make that for me?’” Hale said.

She did, first vegetable side dishes that she would include with the class. Then her clients started asking for side dishes for their friends and family. When requests kept coming in, Hale had to make a decision on how far to take her cooking “hobby.”

“I thought, ‘How do a make it possible for everyone to eat healthy?’” she said.

She set up a website, canihaveabiteinc.com, and began offering a seasonal carry-out menu of items made from mostly local and organic ingredients — sides, salads, soups and entrees — and then delivering them to her clients. In late 2013 she added wholesale clients, including coffee houses and specialty grocery stores.

Her wholesale business continues to grow, and she’ll have some standard menu items for those clients.

But now her retail clients will come to her new shop where the menu will be ever-changing. Items can include coconut curry soup, Persian lime green beans, cashew meat loaf and vegetable lasagna.

“I’m a food nerd and a farmers market junky, and I started this because I wanted it to be easy for people,” Hale said. “If someone wants to eat healthy, they can just pick it up and take it home.”

Canihaveabite’s hours are 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. It is closed Sunday and Monday.

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