Shack Breakfast & Lunch started from a mistake.
Best friends since third grade, Brant Baldanza and Jon Fogarty invested in a restaurant building and then found it would need costly repairs. So they sold it at a loss and put the funds into a breakfast and lunch operation, hoping to break even.
But the Shack did so well that they expanded the menu and founded a chain that now includes five St. Louis area restaurants with another opening in early 2019, and two opening in Overland Park this year.
“Good things can come out of mistakes, and that’s what the whole Shack idea is about,” Baldanza said.
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The metro’s first Shack Breakfast & Lunch was scheduled to open Friday, Aug. 10, at 7940 W. 135th St. in Overland Park (in a former Logan’s Roadhouse). Another Overland Park location will open in the former Le Peep at 7218 College Blvd. this fall. The partners also are looking in the Oak Park Mall area for their third area location and hope to have six or seven restaurants in the metro.
“We serve cocktails, which we really like. We have a very vast menu with five or six different sections,” said Baldanza, who has worked in the restaurant industry since he was 16. “So we have kind of a pub and grill flair that you would see at night at other restaurants. We brought that vast menu into the breakfast sector.”
Its large menu includes skillets, waffles, chocolate chip or blueberry pancakes, brioche French toast encrusted with corn flakes and topped with powdered sugar, Tostada Ensalada with green chili salsa or Italian salad, sandwiches, tacos and waffle sliders.
Some menu items have playful names, such as the Gringo Killer (a skillet with chorizo, onion, bell peppers, green chili salsa and cheese) and “Why the French Hate Us” (a toasted croissant stuffed with two sausage links and scrambled eggs, covered in sausage gravy and cheddar cheese, and served with hash browns).
Under “Healthy(er) Habits” it has such items as house-smoked salmon, avocado focaccia, a breakfast banana split with Greek yogurt, and “Do I STILL Look Big in These Pants” (a skillet with chicken sausage, egg whites, mushrooms, spinach, chopped tomato, feta cheese and Brussels sprouts).
Lunch items include Baja Tacos, Reubens, bacon-wrapped meatloaf, turkey focaccia and the Cease N’ Desist — two seasoned patties with double-cut pecan-smoked bacon on a pretzel bun that originally had a name too close to another chain’s restaurant burger, thus the “cease and desist” order.
It also has many gluten-free items. Baldanza’s daughter, Hanna, now 21, was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2004.
Its bar menu features Boozie Shakes as well as specialty cocktails and draft beer.
Hours will be 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, and breakfast will be served all day. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The 5,500-square-foot space has been remodeled for an open, rustic decor. It seats 160 people.
The owners encourage customers to take one of their Sharpies and leave a lasting message on their wooden walls. But with some rules. If they “heart” someone and then later break up with them, they are welcome to sign a new “heart” for a new love later. But they can’t go back and mark over the first one because the restaurant will then highlight it and make fun of it.
The Shack has a sander handy for “profanity and other stupid stuff.” “KU” and “Jayhawk” used to be included in that (this is a St. Louis-based chain, after all), but that rule was amended in late 2017 when it said the “MU/KU rivalry lost its luster.” Plus they were sick of sanding off the KU marks, Baldanza said.
They sell $10 mugs with such sayings as “day drinking from a mug to keep things professional,” and $20 T-shirts, such as one that says “Skinny people are easy to kidnap. Be safe, eat bacon.”
“We wanted to have fun and make people laugh with our funny, quirky menu items and coffee mugs,” Baldanza said.
Baldanza and Fogarty formed the St. Louis-based OG Hospitality Group to manage their Shack Breakfast & Lunch locations, as well as their other concepts, The Corner Pub & Grill and The Tavern Kitchen & Bar.