One look at the cakes, cookies and strudels behind the counter at A Taste of Europe, and a visitor knows this is no ordinary grocery store.
Owner Geno Basov counts the layers in one chocolate cake and comes up with 12.
“There’s no preservatives in these cakes, and they come here fresh from New York, so we have to sell them within days,” says Basov, who is constantly in motion, checking his stock of everything from coffee to homeopathic herbs.
“That really isn’t a problem. European bakers put a lot of love into their creams and butters.”
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Everything in this tiny shop, if not from Europe, is made the same way they’d make it in Germany or processed the way they would in any European country, he explains.
He’s owned this business with partner Marat Tsitolovsky for three years, and while he has a loyal following, he’d like more people to know about the place, tucked into a small strip mall near a spa and a taco restaurant.
Sheila Fasbindar — his friend, patron and now consultant — plans to help him do just that. She has big plans for the place.
“We’ll carry more kosher products,” she says. “And we’re going to move things around and create a little café corner, so that when we put in a cappuccino machine, this can be a place to come and relax.”
She’s also excited that within a couple of weeks, the store will be carrying Bagel Works’ bread and bagels.
“He’s going to do lox in a box, so people can come in, tell us how many people they’re serving, and we’ll supply the bagels, cream cheese, lox, onion, tomato and cukes,” Fasbindar says. “You can take it out, or stay and visit with friends. It’ll be kind of a throwback to the ‘60s.”
Fasbindar, who has worked as a consultant for other markets, including Hen House, can tell a visitor where nearly every product on the shelves, behind the deli counter and in the refrigerated section came from.
The French pastrami is sourced at a place in the Big Apple, the coffees from most every country in Europe. She pauses to describe a kind of farmer’s cheese that’s softer than most, and popular with their German clientele.
Two women come in to pick up a jar of red horseradish — much milder than most, Basov says — and one tells the owner it’s the only place in town she can find it.
Behind the counter, those chocolate cakes sell well, as does the deli meat. “People sometimes call it lunch meat, and that seems odd to me because we eat it for dinner,” says Basov, whose slight accent is the only clue he was raised in Kiev, and moved here with his family when he was 18.
He darts over to the desserts to point to poppyseed strudel. “Nobody puts as many poppy seeds as we do in this,” he says, then laughs. “Don’t try taking a drug test after tasting these.”
The businessman, who also owns a shoe repair shop and a uniform store with his wife, had a simple mission in this start-up.
“I lived in New York, and I realized that in Kansas City, unlike there, you couldn’t find the foods from European countries,” he says.
“The people who come in here are just like me,” she says. “They want to have the things they enjoyed from their parents’ and grandparents’ generation, but they don’t have the time to make them, or they can’t find them in a regular grocery store.
“This is a destination for people who are looking for those comfort foods.”
Taste of Europe
Address: 13378 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park
Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Contact info: 913-402-8500; tasteofeuropeks.com