It’s Ice Cream Season–Stop by Brookside’s Newest Treat Shop!

Did you make a career change due to the COVID 19 pandemic? Jessica and Alex Wood did—and Brookside is better off for it! Their new ice cream shop is called French Custard.

Alex and Jessica Wood, owners of French Custard

Pre pandemic, the Woods were living in Manhattan NYC; the couple had their own e- commerce clothing line, Discourse NYC.  Jessica says they always like to “make our own stuff: we bake our own bread, make our own pizza, we ferment stuff” so when COVID hit and they reassessed priorities, the pair moved to Kansas City (where they are both from) and decided to make their own ice cream. “It was a COVID project” Jessica explains, “we love French custard ice cream, which is very popular in New York. There are so many artisan ice cream shops there and we missed being able to walk to our favorite spot for a  treat”.  Alex’s grandmother found an old 1980s ice cream maker in her basement (complete with instructions on a video cassette!!) and they started experimenting.  They gave samples to friends, hosted several pop ups and based on the enthusiastic response, decided to open a storefront. 

There are two different styles of ice cream, Jessica explains.  The “Philadelphia style” is  most common in the US—this style does not use eggs and does use a lot of stabilizers for consistency.  Jessica and Alex prefer the French custard style, which uses only eggs, milk, cream, and sugar— no other additives.  You can really tell the difference too: French Custard tastes very natural, fresh, and clean—rich and smooth with that special homemade burst of flavor.  All of their ice cream is made in the back of the store and the flavors change often.  Right now their best selling scoop is Salted Caramel Pretzel; other flavors include  Brookside Butter Pecan, Fruity Pebbles, Mint Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Churro, Cookies and Cream and French Vanilla.  Alex and Jessica also have quite a few collaborations going on with other local businesses; Heirloom Bakery sells their ice cream during their Wednesday Summer happy hour and Bacaro Primo (Italian restaurant in the Crestwood Shops) features French Custard ice cream on their menu.

Alex and Jessica live in Brookside, within walking distance of the store.  “We are so excited to be open in Brookside; this is where we wanted to be.  We feel we have something very special to add to the flavor of Brookside” says Jessica.  “Everyone here is so very nice and helpful; French custard ice cream shops in NYC are very, very competitive.  Here, it’s a very friendly atmosphere”.

French Custard is currently open Tuesday/Wed/Thursday  from 2pm-9pm; Fridays from 2-10pm; Saturday noon-10pm and Sunday noon-9pm.  French Custard is located at 5905 Main St, along the Trolley Track Trail in the Morningside Shops.  Treat yourself soon!

Brookside Art Annual and Waldo Spring Fling Happen This Weekend

The weather forecast looks good for this weekend–fortunately for two outdoor events you can check out! The biggie is the 37th Brookside Art Annual, at 63rd St and Brookside Plaza.

Booths open tomorrow, Friday May 5, at 5pm. Enjoy browsing through all sorts of local and regional art: painting, sculpture, clothing, jewelry, photography and a few pieces that will certainly make you ponder…what is it exactly?? In addition there are things for the kids to do: arts and crafts and face painting plus several food and snack options. The Art Annual continues on Saturday from 10am-9pm and Sunday 11am-5pm.

Also happening on Saturday is the 2nd Annual Waldo Spring Fling, at the NE corner of Gregory and Wornall. This is a smaller, growing event and family friendly; several local Waldo businesses will have booths set up plus food trucks for noshing.

You can easily enjoy one or both outdoor events this weekend; remember to drive slowly near these two areas and watch for extra pedestrians and tight parking on side streets. Thank you for supporting our local Brookside and Waldo businesses and events!

Need Some Pampering? Schedule a Service at Roots and Branches Salon

Everyone needs some special indulgent treatment every so often, and one of the places you can do that is Roots and Branches Salon in Waldo. Formerly Hagoya Yoga and Massage, new owner Holly McPheter took over the space last fall and expanded the services offered.

There is a comfortable, nature vibe here, with the hair salon up front and center. Their stylists offer a full range of services for men and women, including cut, color, styling, waxing and extensions and a line of R+CO and Kevin Murphy products for purchase. In the back of the shop, enjoy a relaxing massage (choose from deep tissue, Hawaiian style, cupping and hard to find pre natal massage.) They are also the first studio with a certified teacher for Inferno Pilates. Holly is particularly proud of their yoga services: their “hot yoga” sessions are 105 degrees! If you are thinking about starting a yoga program, ask about their Friday happy hour “drop in “sessions” for $15. As you can see, their yoga studio is quite large!

You may know about the original Roots and Branches location in the River Market area. Holly opened that location nine years ago and wanted to expand south. She searched for another location for two years before finding this spot, knowing it was “meant to be. The brand was already established with yoga and we wanted to continue that. We love the close neighborhood atmosphere here and most of our customers are within a five mile radius”.

Beth Swarthout, Salon Coordinator and Holly McPheter, Owner

And for those of you looking for a special unique gift, besides the special hair products Roots and Branches has a wall of boutique items for sale, including local artwork, blankets, baby items and Nomatix yoga towels.

Roots and Branches is hosting an open house on Saturday April 22 from 3-6pm if you would like to come by and check out the space. Various vendors and local artists are participating; the staff is looking forward to meeting more folks that live in the nieghborhood! Roots and Branches is located at 515 W 75th St. You can also book appointments online.

Expanded Women’s Clothing Shop LADYCO Opens on 63rd St.

Shopping for clothes has changed so much since COVID 19 hit three years ago..and yes, things are mostly back to normal.  Many more people shop online for everything; and I will admit, I prefer not to clothes shop online.  I can never be sure of the fit, the color, the fabric quality…and it’s a hassle to make returns!

Brookside is so fortunate to have an expanded woman’s clothing store, LADYCO, which opened recently in part of the former New Dime Store space at 314 W 63rd St.  LADYCO offers you the experience of what shopping used to be like: leisurely browsing through different clothes and styles with a friendly, helpful staff that is very customer focused.  At LADYCO, you will find a wide selection of pants, tops, dresses, jeans and accessories you won’t find in any national chain retail store. 

CEO Abby Flores opened her first retail shops in Brookside in 2017—you may remember Itsy Bitsy Bums and COCO on Oak St just north of 63rd.  When a fire destroyed much of the building in 2017, COCO moved to Waldo temporarily before coming back to Brookside on 63rd St, just west of Main St. Lady Bye then opened on Brookside Plaza next to Skin.  When COVID hit and foot traffic stopped, the shops had to close  and after reopening, Abby decided she wanted a larger space on 63rd St  to combine Lady Bye and COCO.  LADYCO is now in part of the former New Dime Store location—totally remodeled but with the original worn hardwood floors in tact!

Describing the type of styles you’ll find in LADYCO, Abby says they are “Modern classics.  We have some very trendy pieces as well as staple items.  We are known for our wide selection of denim jeans, all priced under $100.”  Abby is particularly proud of the range of sizes she carries:  a mix of extra small through 3X, with the larger sizes featured in front of the store.  LADYCO also hosts private shopping events, if you are looking for something a little different to celebrate a ladies night out, birthday or other special occasion.

Business has been great at the new location, and Abby is very proud of her staff, saying “Everything we do is about serving our amazing customer base.  Our staff loves to make people feel beautiful.  They can help you put together a capsule wardrobe or suggest pieces for a specific event.  We get new merchandise in every week.”

Stop by and see the newly expanded LADYCO this spring; check out the new styles and let the staff pamper you with service!  LADYCO is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am-6pm, and Sunday 11am-5pm.  There is also a sister store, KATE, in the River Market area at 412 Delaware.

Brookside Sip & Shop Today!

Shoppers can’t get enough of Brookside! You may know about the fall Brookside Sip & Shop; due to it’s success, the Brookside Business Association added another event for Spring! And it looks like the weather will be pleasant for a leisurely stroll along 63rd St.

It’s happening tonight, March 30 from 5-7pm. Ditch the car and walk along 63rd St later today, stopping in the shops, taking advantage of special giveaways, deals and free drink samples! Make an evening of it and dine in one of the many restaurants in the area. Be sure to ask about any Sip & Shop specials! All are welcome.

Thank you for supporting our local Brookside merchants!

Spring is (Almost) Here–Celebrate at the St Pat’s Parade Saturday!!

It’s one of Brookside’s most popular community events…the annual St. Patrick’s Warm-Up Parade, happening tomorrow, Saturday March 14, 2023!

This family friendly event starts at 2pm; note neighboring streets will be blocked off early afternoon. One of the reasons I like this parade so much is that spectators can get very close to the route and see all the fabulous floats, dancers, bands, classic cars and decorations up close. And the parade itself is pretty long–sometime going more than an hour! This year’s theme is Chasing Rainbows.

If you plan on going to the parade, please be aware that many streets around the route will be clogged with cars and pedestrians–if you must drive, park several blocks away and walk to your viewing spot. Be extra careful driving and enjoy the day…the parade route is posted below. (There is a possibility the parade could be delayed by a week due to weather.) See you there!

Meet Waldo’s New Executive Director!

How many businesses do you think have a Waldo address?  Chelsea Kapka, Executive Director of the Waldo Area Business Association, has heard over 600 businesses call Waldo home…and about 350 of them belong to WABA.  Since joining WABA last month, she’s hoping to increase membership along with some other goals for the strong, thriving neighborhood.

I stopped in WABA at 7222 Wornall recently to have a chat with Chelsea.  Originally from southwest Missouri, she went to MIZZOU for her undergrad degree and completed a masters at MO State.   She’s spent the last several years in nursing home administration, most recently in Olathe.  Although Chelsea enjoyed working with seniors, she decided she wanted a change in her career, and applied for the WABA job.   She’s lived in Waldo for the past several years, with a sister and brother also living nearby.

Chelsea talked about other goals she has for WABA:  she’s planning a bingo game on Wednesdays at Waldo Pizza that should start soon, and wants to increase community events.  Besides the popular Waldo Fall Festival, she  is promoting the second annual Spring Fling happening May 6, at Gregory and Wornall.  She hopes to get more businesses to participate, including more local makers.  The monthly Waldo business luncheons are open to anyone; details on dates are on the WABA website.  The next luncheon is Wednesday March 1 at HJ’s Community Center, featuring sixth district candidates up for election.  “I really like the WABA Mission Statement—it’s important for me to maintain Waldo as a vibrant and inclusive area.  Waldo feels like its own city within Kansas City—so unique and eclectic”.

Chelsea and I talked briefly about the houseless issue in Waldo and how it can be addressed.  She recently met with Josh Henges, the “homeless prevention coordinator” for Kansas City MO, who has a lot of ground to cover.  The Waldo CID (Community Improvement District) handles security, graffiti and trash removal, marketing,  plus landscape maintenance for the neighborhood.  CID Community Awareness Officers are a daily presence that will report to police any necessary information regarding the houseless population but do not get directly involved.

In her free time, Chelsea spends time with her scientist husband and their three dogs; she enjoys reading and going to live music shows, especially at the Madrid Theater. You are welcome to stop by and introduce yourself to Chelsea, especially if you have a business in Waldo.  The WABA is located at 7222 Wornall.  And feel free to come to one of the monthly luncheons to keep in touch with what’s happening in Waldo!

Waldo Week Starts Today!

So the hype of the Chiefs winning the Superbowl is winding down, Valentine’s Day is over and ….this can be a bland time of year. Here’s a diversion for you: plan to participate in the 8th annual Waldo Week!

Waldo Week was created to spotlight locally owned Waldo businesses by offering special discounts and deals for several days during the slower winter months….while also supporting a local non-profit organization. This year, the votes came in for Lucky 13 pet rescue as the supported charity. The Waldo Area Business Association hopes to raise $1500 for Lucky 13 through a special virtual auction and donations.

Several local businesses have special offers for the next several days, including Betty Rae’s, Eclectics, Crow’s Coffee, Summit Grill and Breathe. Mention Waldo Week when you stop by to find out details. A complete list of participants is listed on the WABA website.

Waldo Week runs from Thursday Feb 16 through Friday Feb 24. Thank you for supporting our locally owned Waldo businesses!

Discussions Underway for a New Waldo Library

The Waldo branch of the Kansas City Public Library system, at 201 E 75th St, would like more space to serve local residents. It’s currently the second busiest location; the Plaza branch has the top spot.  Preliminary talks are underway between the library and the Kansas City Public School district about a move to the old Bingham school site, at  7618 Wyandotte (77th and Wornall, behind the Firestone Tire building).

I recently spoke with Eric Gunderson, President of the Waldo Tower Neighborhood Association to find out more.  Last November, he hosted a public meeting at the library to start a dialogue with neighbors about possible plans.  Shannon Jaxx from KCPS and library consultants were present. The site of the former school is 7.5 acres, and a new library building would use up just part of the empty lot.  The current building on 75th St has 14,000 SF; a new building would ideally be between 22-25,000 SF and include useable outdoor space for patrons.  Inside, there would be a larger, dedicated children’s area; a computer lab, an array of different sized meeting rooms and more storage space. The library and consultants feel that with the current building maintenance issues (leaky roof, space constrictions, etc), it would be less expensive to build a brand new building.  Currently the library is funded by a portion of KCMO  resident property taxes; it was stated in the meeting that no new taxes would be needed to fund a new structure.  No building plans have been drawn up; at this stage, it’s all talk and figuring out various options.  Eric says if the relocation does happen, it would be at least five years, probably more, before the new library opened.  He reports that there wasn’t any opposition to a new building; the challenge would be some increased traffic in the residential area, as the entrance to the site is off Wyandotte and not Wornall.

I also asked Eric about other significant happenings in Waldo; we talked about all the new locally owned businesses that chose Waldo as their home—so many in just the past couple of years, despite the pandemic.  The biggest changes are happening in the streetscapes:  along Gregory from Wornall to Oak, you’ve seen the construction workers and detours as KCMO installed “traffic calming” elements like curb extensions and a dedicated bike lane, .all of these improvements will make this area more pedestrian/bike friendly.  In the near future, major changes are coming along Wornall from 74th-79th St, especially in the busy area in front of Waldo Pizza.  Plans include new streetlights, water main replacement, a new roadway, parking lot improvements, and more.  You can read more details about these plans at the Waldo neighborhood website under Resources. And you can keep up with other Waldo news/meetings at the site as well.

Make Reservations Now for Kansas City Restaurant Week!

I’ve got an answer for that annoying daily question…”what’s for dinner?”. Make plans now to participate in Kansas City’s annual Restaurant Week, January 13-22.

Restaurant Week began as a way to get more business into restaurants during a traditionally slow dining out period, but it also benefits local non profit organizations. This year, part of the proceeds from each meal will go to Cornerstones of Care, along with other organizations.

Here’s how it works: restaurants across the city offer special pre fix menu options for lunch ($20) and dinner ($40). You’ll find all kinds of cuisine choices, from casual to pricy; and you can order carry out, delivery or dine in. Web searches are easy–by cuisine, part of town, or special diet. Reservations are strongly recommended, especially for the most popular spots on the weekends. Download the app–it’s very easy to use; you’ll see menus and can check table availability. This is the perfect opportunity to try a new, locally owned place with friends or grab a quick lunch with co-workers. Many Brookside and Waldo restaurants are participating; here is a partial list, including Aixois, The Well, Boru, Charlie Hooper’s, Plate, Red Door Grill, South of Summit and Summit Grill.

Celebrate Kansas City Restaurant Week 2023–beginning Friday and running through January 2022!