When Sidney and Mollie Ball opened their first grocery store in 1923, they would call customers for their order in the morning and deliver it in the afternoon.
That was the start of Balls Food Stores, now in its fourth generation with 11 Hen House Markets, 16 area Price Choppers, one Sun Fresh Market and one Payless Discount Foods store.
Balls temporarily shut down its Leawood Hen House Market, in Camelot Court at 11721 Roe Ave., last Dec. 24. When it reopened last week, it had gone from 55,000-square-feet to 75,000-square-feet and from 115 employees to 215.
Sidney and Mollie’s little neighborhood store would fit into just half of the kitchen of new Leawood store.
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But the new store still tries to keep a bit of the founders’ touch, just on a much larger scale. While Mollie Ball sold her homemade meat loaf in the couple’s store, the new Hen House features an expanded prepared food area that offers everything from made-to-order waffles to pita and flatbreads.
The prepared food area on the south side includes a delicatessen, salad bar, Tippin’s Pie Pantry, Farm to Market Hearth Oven, a bakery, cheese shop and Starbucks.
Asian-to-Go from Hissho, a national sushi franchise, now offers chicken, beef or vegetable pho, as well as grilled pork, chicken or tofu banh mi. Customers also can try new salads like the Kalifornia Kale or Raspberry Fields, along with rice or noodle bowls featuring a variety of freshly grilled ingredients. A front dining area features a fireplace.
Balls also has hired longtime Kansas City chef Peter Castillo as corporate executive chef.
Shelf tags in the packaged goods area point out different dietary guidelines such as “gluten free,” “whole grain,” and “low saturated fat.” The store also has an expanded seafood department, an expanded offering of kosher food, dairy and meats, an expanded wellness section and its own dry-aged beef.
The Leawood Hen House has the first Hallmark Flowers display.
Hallmark has a licensing partnership with Gems Group Inc., a Miami-based floral company to offer the “gift-ready bouquets” for $20. The display has fresh-cut flowers wrapped in craft paper sleeve with a purple ribbon, wooden hang tag and a “sentiment tag” with such sayings as “You’re the best.” Hallmark plans to add more locations in Kansas City and other markets this fall.
Gregg Frost, vice president of operations for Hen House, said the store is the top Hen House in terms of sales volume.
Just north of the Hen House, Harry’s Liquor Store, 11721 Roe Ave., opened Tuesday. It had formerly operated as Camelot Court Wine and Spirits.
▪ Locally owned Pink Antlers Studio, a party planning retail shop, plans a grand opening Aug. 19 to 20 in Leawood’s Park Place. The 950-square-foot shop, 11531 Ash St., will offer party decor, handmade gifts, home goods and more. Its studio artists can create customized invitations, banners, centerpieces, thank you bags, food labels and more. It also will offer classes for do-it-yourselfers.
▪ The former Chocolate Frog restaurant, 3935 W. 69th Terrace in the Prairie Village Shopping Center, is scheduled to reopen Monday as C. Frogs BBQ Steak Whiskey.
Longtime area restaurateur Forbes Cross said he developed the C. Frogs concept specifically for the Prairie Village spot. It will have a “more masculine” decor with such menu items as slow-smoked roast beef dip au jus, rotisserie rosemary chicken in pita, black Angus burger, burnt ends, brisket, and pork ribs.