Carmen’s Cafe in Leawood undergoes makeover

Leawood’s Carmen’s Cafe is now Carma.

Brothers Juan and Francisco Bautista, owners of Carmen’s Cafe in Brookside, opened the Park Place Carmen’s Cafe at 11526 Ash St. in mid-2010. It was a bit more elegant than its Brookside counterpart, and the entrees tended to be priced slightly higher, according to a Kansas City Star review at the time.

Juan Bautista said the first couple of years sales were strong, then they fell off.

The brothers resigned from the Leawood restaurant’s ownership group as of Nov. 30 but kept the rights to the name and the signature recipes.

As of Dec. 1, their investment partners took over, changing the name to just Carma.

Don Sanders, majority partner, said sales declined somewhat while office and residential construction projects in the area were under way.

He said he wants to take the restaurant in a different direction, more upscale for Carma with house-made pastas, salad dressings and sauces, and other fresh ingredients from local farmers.

Carma also will offer new gluten-free and vegetarian menu items, as well as new wine selections and cocktails.

A former private dining room will be converted into Cafe Carma, offering New York-styled pizzas, sandwiches and salads for dine-in and take-out service.

Sanders’ two daughters and his wife also are stockholders in the restaurant. His daughter Bree Sanders is a manager and she married chef Israel Hernandez in March 2012.

“I got into the business as an investor but I never got into it to open a restaurant,” Don Sanders said. “But it’s a great business.”

Beena Brandsgard, former owner of Jardine’s, is now general manager at Carma. She also is overseeing the live music offerings from 6 to 9 p.m. daily, primarily jazz.

Leo Santana, who was the chef of the former Carmen’s Cafe in Leawood, is now head chef at Carma.

As for the Bautista brothers, they are concentrating on their Brookside location, which opened in April 1999 at 6307 Brookside Plaza.

They also will launch a food truck called Carmen’s Bites in April 2014 to take to festivals and private events.

Corbin Park updates

The area’s first Sprouts Farmers Market has set an opening date in south Overland Park.

The specialty grocer is scheduled to open at 7 a.m. on Jan. 8 in Corbin Park, 6821 W. 135th St.

The 23,360-square-foot store will sell fresh produce, bulk foods, vitamins and supplements, packaged groceries, meat and seafood, baked goods, dairy products, frozen foods, natural body care products, household items and more.

Grand opening events include discounts and free items.

Sprouts is based in Phoenix, Ariz., and has more than 165 stores.

In other Corbin Park updates, the owner said he is negotiating with locally owned Spin Neapolitan Pizza to open a restaurant in a new building in the center in mid-2014. However, a lease has not been signed.

Spin officials declined to comment.

Quick bite

Mama Resch’s, a gluten-free and allergen-friendly bakery, plans a Dec. 18 opening in Metcalf 127, located at 12635 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park.

The locally owned bakery will serve a variety of products including millet sandwich bread, banana bread, vegan multi-purpose buns, oatmeal cookies, snickerdoodles, baked chocolate donuts, graham crackers, sun-dried tomato crackers, chocolate chip granola bars, and pancake mix.