Vito and Carol “Rookie” LaBruzzo operated LaBruzzo’s Tavern at 1809 Grand from the early 1960s to the early 1980s.
Their daughter, Carol LaBruzzo, co-owned Kelly’s Bakery for 16 years (from about 1979 to 1995) in the old Northeast area, as well as a Kelly’s Bakery outlet in the River Market. Her sisters — Vicki LaBruzzo, Christy Maenza, and Rosemary Pisciotta — helped out.
Now sisters Vicki and Carol LaBruzzo will bring back some family favorites — including Italian cookies, pastries, and bread — in a new River Market venue, LaBruzzo’s Sweet Oven.
They are taking 1,500 square feet of the former Hickok’s Bar & Grill at 528 Walnut St. and hope to open the bakery before Halloween.
Kelly’s closed when the neighborhood changed. Many Italian residents moved away and many families that remained either made their own Italian cookies or purchased them at area grocery stores, Vicki LaBruzzo said.
“Now people don’t have the time because they are working, but they still want that personal touch,” she said. “We wanted to do the bakery again while we still can. It has always been a dream and a passion.”
The corner building also has a new owner who plans to put his offices on the two upper floors, as well as the former bar space on the corner with views of downtown Kansas City.
The bar and dining room spaces might have been too much for one locally owned operation to make overhead. The two previous restaurant tenants — Hickok’s and Dos Hombres — had short stints in the space, around three years each.
Joyce Murray and Debora Field of Newmark Grubb Zimmer handled the lease negotiations for LaBruzzo’s, as well as the sale of the building. The purchase price was not disclosed.
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