On the Saturday before Christmas — one of the busiest nights of the year at the Northland’s Cascone’s Italian Restaurant —partner Jimmy Cascone still stopped to reminisce with longtime customers.
One customer who had been celebrating the season with his family there for decades forgot to make reservations for his party of 12 this year, but Cascone “made it work.”
“They want to tell me their stories, stories about my dad, my uncle, about when you use to be able to drink three martinis at lunch,” he said. “Coming here so long they don’t feel like they are a guest in your house, they feel like they are in their own house. That’s what it is all about.”
Back in 1954, brothers John and Leroy Cascone purchased the Viewpoint roadhouse at 3733 N. Oak Trafficway and converted it to Cascone’s. They built a new restaurant on the site in 1980 and later tore down the original building to expand the parking lot. But the vintage sign from 1955 remains a landmark in the Northland.
The family traces its roots back to Ragusa, a city near the southern coast of Sicily, and uses slogan the Sempre Famiglia (family forever). Three of John Cascone’s children — Jimmy and Frank Cascone and Lucille Cascone Hotchkiss — are now the owners and a Cascone can usually be found on-site during operating hours. Family photos of both the Cascones and even some of their customers dot the walls.
Their baked lasagna has remained a favorite over the years. Other menu items include the breaded Italian steak sandwich, eggplant parmigiana, veal Parmesan, roast brisket of beef, linguini with clam sauce, rainbow trout, and fried chicken.
This month, Cascone’s, at 3737 N. Oak Trafficway, also sold about 1,500 gift boxes of their branded pizza and pasta sauces, salad dressings, artichokes and pasta.
“People have too many places they can eat today. But to drive to 37th and North Oak you have to want to go to this place,” said Jimmy Cascone.
A taste of German cuisine
Earlier this year, the Schulenberg family started planning a venture that would combine their professional experiences.
Randy Schulenberg had worked in IT, his wife Becky Schulenberg is a certified public accountant, and their son Craig Dietrich Schulenberg had been a sous chef at area restaurants, including in Lee’s Summit where he grew up.
The family crunched the numbers and came up with about a half-dozen German restaurants in the metro, but their part of the metro—- Lee’s Summit — was underserved.
“It’s part of our heritage - German - so we see it....as legacy like,” said Randy Schulenberg. “It’s a challenge. It’s a lot of work but it is also the adventure of it.”
They took over the former Monetti’s Taste of Italy space at 1313 N.E. Douglas Road, (just off of Interstate 470) and extensively remodeled the space with a decor they describe as “deteriorating castle.”
Dietrich’s Modern German Cuisine and Biergarten opened in September. One side is the dining room, the bar area on the other side has been turned into the “biergarten” with a patio open in nicer weather.
The owners use mostly family recipes for their pretzels with spicy beer cheese, krautballs, bacon wrapped brats, German potato pancakes, red cabbage, spätzle, and main courses like German pot roast, beef Rouladen, and Sauerbraten short ribs.
“Genuine German food with a touch of American comfort,” Randy Schulenberg said.
It also has a variety of primarily German craft beers.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. It is closed Sunday.
Dietrich’s also offers live music on weekends, usually a Friday or Saturday night.
To reach Joyce Smith, call 816-234-4692 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at JoyceKC