He tried to retire twice but owning a restaurant is how he really wants to retire
Jerry Naster never skips breakfast. But he never likes to eat breakfast out either.
He said other restaurants just can’t make it as good as he does. Many Kansas Citians agree.
They’ve been fans since he ran his Woodswether Cafe on Woodswether Road in the West Bottoms. They followed him when he relocated to 103rd and State Line Road in south Kansas City. And now they have found him again at his new Original Cafe, which opened in late December in Rosana Square, 7552 W. 119th St., Overland Park.
“I had to be active. I can’t sit still and I don’t have any hobbies. This is my hobby,” he said. “I just love it. Everything about it — the people, I like to eat period. And there are so many bad restaurants.”
Original Cafe serves breakfast from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The cafe has pancakes so big you need a pizza-sized box to take them to go, as well as a variety of omelets including Jerry’s Philly (with rib eye steak, sliced onions and peppers and provolone cheese), and the Lox Ness (with salmon, onions and a choice of cheese).
The breakfast menu also includes the Fire Bomb (two poached eggs, Canadian bacon and hash browns on top of an English muffin covered in jalapeno gravy), scrambles and breakfast sandwiches, bagels, biscuits and gravy, French toast, Belgian waffles and oatmeal.
Lunch starts at 9 a.m. and includes fried pickles, jalapeno poppers, house-breaded mushrooms, salad, soup and chili, Reubens, Chicago dogs, Italian steak sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, BLTs and tuna melts, and malts and shakes.
Jerry’s Specialties are entrees such as chicken fried steak, sliced beef and brown gravy over Texas toast, meatloaf, liver and onions, and steaks — all served with salad and a choice of two sides. Daily specials can include an Italian steak sandwich, french fries and a drink for $9.99.
His personal favorites? The “two best sandwiches in the world,” his classic cheeseburger (a half pound of freshly ground 100-percent-beef burger with lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion) that he describes as “awesome, just awesome,” and The Rachel sandwich (with pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing on grilled rye bread and served with a side of horseradish).
“I’ll tell you a story. I had five guys come in, lawyer-types, and they ordered triple cheeseburgers, fries and shakes and they ate it all. I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
Naster knows his meat. He spent nearly four decades as a butcher, starting as a 16 year old in his father’s meat market at 12th and Troost.
Naster opened Woodswether Cafe in the 1990s — a seven-table restaurant in a lime-green, graffiti-covered cinder block building on the southern banks of the Missouri River. His wife, Esther, baked the pies and towering cakes. He relocated the restaurant once, to a much larger West Bottoms building with more than 100 seats in 2005. But after Esther died in 2007, he sold the restaurant and retired.
That only lasted three years.
He opened Jerry’s Cafe at 103rd and State Line Road, operating it for five years before retiring again.
This time he didn’t make it three years.
His daughter’s office is close to Rosana Square and when Freebirds World Burrito closed in late September and the “for lease” sign went up, she called her father. He was ready.
He kept the Freebird’s “Freedom” mural, but made few other changes to the space. And he brought back his long popular menu.
“Just the the same concept as all my other places. Same exact food except try to do a little better than I did before,” Naster said. “I don’t want to retire again. I just want to work and work and work and that’s it.”