IHOP’s new restaurant in Kansas City, Kan., was the first of the chain’s 1,650 locations worldwide to feature its latest design — a sleek contemporary look in mostly soft tans and charcoals with pops of color here and there, two community tables seating eight people each, and a bar top along the front windows where customers can watch traffic on bustling Rainbow Boulevard.
The restaurant had a soft opening in early April in the 39Rainbow complex but will have a grand opening celebration starting at 8 a.m. Friday with party favors like balloons for the children, as well as drawings for gift cards and prizes.
Franchisee Mohammad “A.J.” Abdel-Jaber also owns the two IHOP locations along 119th Street in Overland Park and Olathe, and another in Belton. He picked the Rainbow location for his fourth restaurant because of its potential for growth.
“The area is growing, but it is just mostly fast food operations now,” Abdel-Jaber said. “And we, as IHOP, have not been close to downtown for a long time.”
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The location, 3928 Rainbow Blvd., across from the University of Kansas Medical Center, also has a large, secured parking lot in back.
According to an IHOP spokesman, 10 locations in the chain now have the new look.
Spin Neapolitan Pizza is now open in Corbin Park. The company’s eighth area location opened Monday in a 3,800-square-foot space at 6510 W. 135th St., Overland Park, near the new Scheels store opening this summer.
The Spin restaurant seats 122 people in the dining room, 10 at the bar and 40 on the patio. The general manager, Molly McClure, joined the company as a server when the first Spin location opened in 2005 at 6541 W. 119th St., in The Fountains shopping center in Overland Park.
James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Smith collaborated on the menu, which includes hand-spun, stone-fired pizzas, fresh salads topped with made-from-scratch dressings, house-made soups, signature panini and Italian deli sandwiches, appetizers, small plates, all-natural gelato ice creams, premium wines, a selection of craft beers, and house-made white, red and blood orange sangrias.
▪ Pita Blu is scheduling a May 11 opening in Overland Park.
Owner Yiannis Klathis took over the former Italian Gardens ToGo building at 7335 W. 119th St., just west of Metcalf Avenue. His drive-thru only operation will serve Greek cuisine, including pitas, gyros (chicken, pork, or beef and lamb), and salads with house-made dressing.
“I call it Greek street food. People love Greek food and there are not that many Greek restaurants around town,” said Klathis, a native of Athens who came to the U.S. in the early 1990s.
Klathis, who previously worked for such companies as Morton’s The Steakhouse, said he might open two or three more Pita Blu operations in the area.
“This is such a good concept that it can fit in anywhere,” he said.
▪ Five Below, a retail chain offering an assortment of items for $5 or less, is entering the market with three locations, all scheduled to open May 15.
Five Below targets the pre-teen and teen consumer, as well as adults, with an ever-changing inventory — mugs, iPhone accessories, fedoras, DVDs, candy and snacks, sunglasses, Wilson basketballs, 1-gallon glass jar beverage dispensers, gag items and pillows with sayings as “Best Day Ever.”
During its grand opening events, which run May 15 to 17 at the three area locations, the retailer will have 5-cent hotdogs (limit three per customer), a chance to win a $100 shopping spree and free Five Below T-shirts, while supplies last.
Five Below is based in Philadelphia and will have 395 locations when the three area stores open.
To reach Joyce Smith, call 816-234-4692 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at JoyceKC