The new 801 Fish features hand-blown glass chandeliers, a fiberglass bluefin tuna sculpture hanging from the ceiling, ocean scenes in blue mosaic tile floor pieces, and fine-art photography of shellfish on the walls.
There’s an oyster bar with an array of shellfish on ice and a view to the open kitchen, and a mahogany bar with a stained-glass piece of twin mermaids as a backdrop.
The lavish design is meant to signal customers that this is a seafood restaurant — and that they are going to get a meal worth remembering.
“We’re in the game for the long term,” said Jimmy Lynch, owner of 801 Restaurant Group in Des Moines, Iowa. “The restaurant business is very competitive, and the key elements are environment, food and service.”
A seafood restaurant in the heartland? Executive chef Alex Schifman was skeptical. He had worked at an upscale San Francisco restaurant that just concentrated on West Coast and Hawaiian fish and shellfish because it took too long to ship items from the East Coast. But the heartland had its advantages, including its central location — if Schifman could get the right purveyors.
Lynch calls him a “logistical magician” in that regard. Schifman now has purveyors in Maine, a Chicago company that sends freshwater fish from the Great Lakes, a North Carolina business that sends deliveries directly from their Florida boats, and other suppliers.
“I say dock to door in 24. Literally 24 hours for pretty much everything,” Schifman said. “If it was caught this morning, it will be on my menu tomorrow night.”
The 801 Fish menu will change daily to keep up with the fresh shipments but typically will include East Coast and West Coast oysters, a shellfish platter and caviar for starters. Other menu items could include New England clam chowder, roasted baby beet salad, Maine lobster, house-made linguini and clams, and grilled Spanish octopus, along with aged USDA prime steaks.
801 Fish, at 11615 Rosewood St., joins its sister restaurants — 801 Chophouse and Pig Finch gastropub — in Leawood’s Park Place. Lynch plans to open three or four 801 Fish restaurants in the next few years in Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska.Quick bite
Erbert Gerbert’s Sandwich Shop is looking to enter the Kansas City market.
The Wisconsin-based chain has 71 locations. It is “aggressively” scouting Kansas City and looking for franchisees. Plans call for seven locations in the region — as far away as Manhattan, Kan. — in the next three years, including at least four in the metropolitan area.
Its sandwiches include the Pompeii (sweet chili chicken salad), the Erupter (Buffalo chicken and bleu cheese) and the Comet Candy (ham and roast beef). The shops also serve several flavors of soups and chili, along with cookies and dessert bars.
“We want to grow regionally. Most of our stores are in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota,” said Jeff Thames, director of franchise sales. “We just opened in Michigan, Texas and Denver. Now we want to open in Kansas City.”