Sharing works for new restaurants in Overland Park’s Prairiefire development

05/29/2014 9:34 PM

06/03/2014 10:18 AM

When PB&J Restaurants Inc. announced plans to open not one but two restaurants in Overland Park’s new upscale Prairiefire development — side-by-side operations that would share one kitchen — they said some other restaurateurs just didn’t get it.

But hotel chefs just shrugged. They were long used to the idea of one kitchen serving multiple hotel food operations.

PB&J says kitchens are one of the most expensive costs for a restaurant build-out. Paradise Diner and Newport Grill also can now share servers and bartenders, moving them back and forth through the day if one restaurant is much busier than the other.

“And instead of one big restaurant that might look emptier, you have two smaller ones that always look full,” said Paul Khoury, owner of PB&J Restaurants in Overland Park. “It’s really fun because people walk through and go back and forth to see their friends at the other restaurant.”

Paradise Diner and Newport Grill have a coveted corner spot at 135th Street and Nall Avenue, and both have patios.

PB&J's first restaurant was a Paradise Diner that opened in Oak Park Mall in December 1987. The Prairiefire restaurant is a 2014 version using mostly fresh, local ingredients for its made-from-scratch menu.

So appetizers include a vegetable crudité (seasonal vegetables with avocado hummus) and house-smoked local trout with corn griddle cake, apple salad and horseradish vinaigrette. It uses custom-cut meats sourced in Kansas by New Jersey butcher Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors.

There’s a turkey banh mi sandwich (with roasted turkey breast, cilantro, pickled carrots, jalapeno, daikon radish and sriracha aioli on a toasted sourdough), chicken and waffles with a house-made hot sauce, and spaghetti and meatballs with freshly made spaghetti.

Paradise Diner, which has a marble-topped, horseshoe-shaped bar with exposed ceiling and reclaimed wood beams from Elwood, Kan., is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

Its sister restaurant Newport Grill, which also has a location in Wichita, is more upscale and specializes in seafood flown in fresh from all over the world six days a week, along with steak, chicken and pork.

Dinner entrees include Hawaiian ahi, Norwegian salmon, Alaskan cod, Idaho rainbow trout, Georges Bank scallops, Maine lobster tail and “today’s fresh catch.” Other items include short rib stroganoff, Oscar filet, chicken Alfredo and Colorado rack of lamb.

For lunch, customers can order such items as a lobster Cobb salad or lobster roll, Baja-style fish tacos, mahi-mahi French dip, fish and chips, blackened chicken penne and Idaho rainbow trout.

Customers at its oyster bar get a view of seafood cooking over a wood-fired grill, or maybe a chef rolling out dough for fresh pasta.

Kiss co-founders dine in Overland Park

Prairiefire also has one of the country’s few Rock & Brews operations, founded by the founders of Kiss, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.

They were in town this week for a Thursday fundraiser for veterans. On Wednesday they surprised fans — and Rock & Brews customers — by dropping in at the restaurant at 5701 W. 135th St. for dinner.

Rock & Brews offer craft beers, premium wines and a full bar. The menu includes “opening acts” like chipotle chili cheese fries, Mexican street corn and Bavarian pretzels; “VIP” salads, including Tuscan kale and tequila sunrise steak; burgers and “headliner” sandwiches such as pulled pork or sesame-seed-crusted seared ahi; specialty pizzas; and other items like fish and chips, Memphis-style baby back ribs and chocolate-filled French doughnuts with raspberry sauce.

The first Rock & Brews opened in the Los Angeles area in 2009. Now there are three Rock & Brews there; one in Los Cabos, Mexico; and another on Maui. Restaurants also are in development in Arizona, Florida, New Mexico and Texas.

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

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