Cityscape

Cascone’s Grill closing after decades in the River Market, new concept coming

In this 2011 file photo, diners sit at the counter at Cascone’s Grill 17 E. 5th Street in the City Market area, where they can chat with the staff and watch their breakfast being cooked. The restaurant has announced it is closing its River Market location.
In this 2011 file photo, diners sit at the counter at Cascone’s Grill 17 E. 5th Street in the City Market area, where they can chat with the staff and watch their breakfast being cooked. The restaurant has announced it is closing its River Market location. Susan Pfannmuller/Special to The Star

The River Market’s Cascone’s Grill has been dishing up an “Italian cuisine meets American diner” menu for decades.

The kitchen can turn out a thousand eggs, 200 pounds of hash browns and 25 pounds of bacon or Italian sausage on a warm summer Saturday.

But now the breakfast and lunch spot will shut its doors at the end of business Feb. 28.

Owner George Cascone listed several reasons for the closing the eatery at 15 E. Fifth St.

The recent snow storms and frigid temperatures kept customers away. His longtime customers balk at now having to pay for parking spaces when they had long parked for free.

On a normal day, he has just a couple dozen customers from 7 to 10 a.m., then it drops off until lunchtime when “the workers with the big boots come in, then not too much action.”

“Maybe it’s my menu, I serve hocks and beans, liver and onions, stuffed peppers, meatballs, stuffed cabbage rolls,” Cascone said. “I’ve tried to keep up with the new clientele but they want gluten-free, turkey bacon. I cook with lard and I don’t sell too many salads.”

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He said Anton Kotar, formerly a co-owner of Grinders and current owner of Anton’s Taproom Restaurant in the Crossroads, will take over the space. Cascone, 62, plans to stay on for five years. The landlord confirmed the new tenant.

Kotar couldn’t be reached for comment but a manager of Anton’s confirmed the deal for the Cascone’s space.

The first Cascone restaurant shows up in the 1933 city directory - a three-stool diner at 548 Gillis St.

Cascone said his grandparents - George and Lucille Cascone - lived in an apartment upstairs. The restaurant moved again before opening in the City Market in 1954, according to family members.

Eggs and hash browns with Italian steak, chicken Parmesan sandwiches, grilled ham and cheese, Italian bread French toast, and meatloaf with gravy are just some the items that have brought in third and fourth-generation customers.

Fans were quick to respond to the closing on Facebook:

“This makes me sad! Where else can you get breakfast with Italian sausage and Italian bread toasted?” said one.

Another added: “This is going to be a tough one, almost like saying goodbye to an old friend.”

Cascone’s was lined with old family photos from previous Cascone restaurants. George Cascone has started packing them away, but doesn’t have any regrets. He’s thankful for his loyal customers over the years.

“I’m looking forward to the future, to see a new format down there,” he said. “And when my customers see me on the grill, they are going to feel comfortable. I’ve been cooking for them for 40 years.”

Other family members will continue to own and operate Johnny Cascone’s Italian Restaurant in Overland Park and Cascone’s North, which opened in 1954.

Joyce Smith has covered restaurant and retail news for The Star since 1989 under the brand Cityscape. She appreciates news tips.
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