One of Kansas City’s toughest New Year’s Eve reservations was for EBT restaurant.
The Kansas City landmark ended its 36-year run Thursday night with a full house, with all tables taken through the evening.
It had been the same on Wednesday afternoon — when EBT offered its last lunch — as well as on Wednesday night.
Business had been brisk all through December, said Ed Holland, the restaurant’s former manager who spent the month greeting long-time customers. After a story announcing the restaurant’s closing appeared in The Star, longtime EBT patrons have been reserving one last table.
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“People are crushed that we are closing, they can’t believe it,” Holland said.
EBT opened in September, 1979 in the UMB bank building at the southeast corner of Interstate 435 and State Line Road.
The store’s initials referred to the old Emery, Bird, Thayer department store, which closed in 1968 in downtown Kansas City and was demolished in 1972. Two of the store’s elevator shafts and cages were salvaged and became dining alcoves in the new restaurant.
For years the restaurant represented fine dining to many. Men wore sportcoats. Tables had tablecloths. Customers came to EBT to mark birthdays, anniversaries, or the birth of children.
“When we opened our servers actually wore tuxedos,” said Holland.
Tableclothes that once were white have been beige in recent years. But EBT continued to be affected by the trend to tables without tablecloths, and the more casual dining habits coudn’t be ignored, Holland said.
“It would take a whole lot of special occasions to keep going,” he said.
Still, every day in December had been a special occasion for EBT regulars. The Star announced the restaurant’s closing on a Thursday.
“On a normal Thursday, we would average 45 to 50 customers for lunch,” Holland said.
“That Thursday we did 172 customers for lunch. The first four-and-a-half days of December, we did more business than all of November.” For dinner the restaurant that recently had served about 35 to 40 customers a night averaged 175 customers a night in December.
So Holland his staff have been seeing a lot of familiar faces, with many of them signing his white chef’s coat.
“We have spent many anniversaries in these elevators,” said Darcy Kershner who, on Thursday night with husband Patrick, occupied one of the restaurant’s two antique lifts salvaged from the old EBT store. The Overland Park couple, married in 1979, felt it appropriate that they return for the restaurant’s last night.
“We appreciated how they went to the trouble of honoring the past but it was never a dusty old past at EBT but a vibrant one,” Patrick Kershner said. “The restaurant will be greatly missed.”