Big Belly’s- New Restaurant in South Waldo

Everyone likes to try a new restaurant…especially if it’s a small, locally owned place. And, most everyone likes Italian food!  So, bring your hungry belly to Waldo’s newest Italian restaurant, Big Belly’s at 8940 Wornall!

Owner Josh Drake has teamed up with chef Ken Viereck and Jessica Gattenby to create a friendly, casual, family oriented place, focusing on scratch cooking and a variety of meal options.  Josh and Ken have a food service background: Ken learned cooking from his parents and over the years, tweaked the recipes.  Josh has a catering company that’s nominated for Caterer of the Year from WedKC.  Josh looked at several locations for the restaurant, and settled on this spot after a friend who owns Social in Waldo recommended it. There was already a  kitchen in the back, and plenty of space for tables, a bar and parking.  “I know Waldo is a community of many types of people: families, blue collar workers, young professionals, older folks—and that’s the type of community I wanted to be in” Josh says.  “When I picture myself in 20 years, I think of LC’s Barbeque.  I went there once a week, and the owner was always at a table, doing paperwork, chatting with the regulars, greeting people as they walk in.  That’s what I want this place to be. I want this place to be affordable for families and also a nice spot for date night”.

Ken Viereck, Jessica Gattenby and Josh Drake

Big Belly’s has a large menu—you’ll find several types of pasta, salads, and entrees that include two sides with garlic bread!  The most popular items so far are the chicken piccata, chicken parmesan and rattlesnake pasta.  There’s also a wide selection of appetizers, mac n’ cheese, and sliders, available in 2 and 3 item portions with sides included.  If you are craving pizza, Big Belly’s has you covered with their flatbread pizzas.  Jessica makes all the desserts fresh every day; after two days they are marked down to 99 cents.  Daily specials include the popular lasagna (only available on Thursdays); kids eat free on Tuesday and a pasta discount on Wednesdays.  And if you are feeding a crowd—check out their family meals and catering menu for Chiefs games, birthday parties and other celebrations. 

Hours for Big Belly’s are Tuesday through Saturday, 11am-9pm and Sundays from 11am-8pm.  Stop in and fill up!

Saying Goodbye to Bier Station

There are some iconic landmarks in Brookside and Waldo…places like Waldo Pizza, Roasterie Coffee, the Piano Room, McLain’s Bakery, Charlie Hoopers…and many more.  It’s what makes our neighborhood unique; these are not cookie cutter chains.    They are the kind of locally owned spots that you always enjoy going to; a place where you bring visitors and meet friends; often a place where the staff is consistent or you bump into someone you know.   One of our landmarks is changing hands next year: Bier Station

I first wrote about Bier Station ten years ago, shortly before it opened.  Owner John Couture was at the very beginning of the craft beer explosion: he offered 21 taps of fresh, rotating beers and hundreds of bottled options for customers to create their own personalized six packs. He and his family lived close by, and welcomed kids who stopped in with their parents, offering games and puzzles. Eventually John added more food selections and an outdoor patio.  The neighborhood embraced and supported Bier Station; it was becoming a landmark.

Naty Cardenas, left, and Bier Station owner John Couture

John did more than just sell beer; he started hosting events that supported local candidates and non-profit causes he believed in.  Bier Station initiated Q&A sessions with our local city council reps, fundraisers for Animal Rescue Alliance,  Moms Demand Action, homeless teen parents and various candidates for office; there were comedy nights, silent auctions and the infamous Josh Hawley Fun Run – the money raised from that event went to causes that the conservative Missouri senator is against.  John has always been an activist at heart, and he invited the community to participate and make a difference, as they enjoyed a beverage and conversation.

When I visited with John last week, he emphasized how much he’s enjoyed having Bier Station but it was time to move on.  “During the past decade, people’s drinking habits have changed.  There were just a couple of craft beer places in KC when I opened; now there are at least 30 or 40 options.  I’m proud to have opened the first craft beer/ tasting bar /bottle shop in the Midwest.  The bar has won many national awards and we’ve raised over $300,000 for non profit causes and civic campaigns”.  One of the events he’s most proud of:  working with the dean of Pharmacy at KU to host a COVID 19 vaccine clinic last year, vaccinating over 1000 people.  And in December 2020 when vandals smashed the front door of the building, locals came by with envelopes of money to help pay for the repair: McLain’s brought over goodies for the staff and business surged in support. “Our customers really are the best!  They are very friendly, very generous with tips and they get to know our staff.  Several close friendships between staff and patrons have developed over the years.”

City Barrel Brewery and Kitchen has purchased Bier Station and has a few changes planned: they will serve New York style pizza and redo the patio out front, adding a roof.  There will still sell beer to go and have several local brews on tap. As for John, he is taking some time off- his family is “very excited” to see more of him as he figures out next steps that will include some sort of political activism.  In the meantime, John invites you to stop in and enjoy a brew and  say goodbye before Bier Station changes hands. There is a big staff reunion on Monday Dec 19 and a final celebration on New Year’s Eve—the last night of Bier Station. Mark your calendar! Bier Station is located at 120 E. Gregory. Thank you John, and Bier Station, for all you have done for our neighborhood and community!

Brookside Commons Offers New Luxury Apartments For Rent

We have lots of houses in the Brookside/Waldo area but not a lot of newer apartments for rent.  That changed over the summer with the opening of Brookside Commons, an upscale apartment project now open at 6551 Rockhill Road.

As a Realtor, I see so many homes with some beautiful, unique decorating styles and furnishings…however the public spaces in Brookside Commons are most impressive for a new build.  The style here is not cookie cutter, like so many apartment complexes are.  I recently walked through the space with assistant manager Chloe Newell. It was impressive!

“Luxury living is here; there is really nothing else like this in Brookside” Chloe says.  Each apartment comes with access to so many amenities: a resort-style outdoor pool, four BBQ grills, resident lounge with fireplace, a gym/yoga studio, game room, electric car charging stations and a dog park.  Brookside Commons also has an amazing co-working lounge and conference room, designed specifically with the WFH resident in mind. All of these spaces are comfortable, attractive and welcoming.  The Lowery Design Group, based in Prairie Village, provided the décor.

There are three buildings that make up Brookside Commons; two of the buildings are open for occupancy and the third will be finished early next year.  Kansas City- based companies Sunflower Development Group and Platform Ventures are developing the project; the space was  formerly a surface parking lot for Research Medical Center, part of the Baptist Medical Center campus.   Once completed, the project will have   210 units, consisting of studio, one- and two- bedroom units; prices range from $1095 to $2295 per month.  Lease options are available from 3 months to 15 months with one month free special on a 13 month lease. Surface parking is available on the property and a gated, covered parking garage is under construction.  Each unit has a full appliance package including a washer/dryer; most have a balcony.   Parking and internet are available for extra fees and two pets are allowed per unit. 

Brookside Commons offers a convenient location; easy access to the Plaza, Westport and downtown; Brookside and Waldo shops and restaurants are within a mile.  Chloe is right; there isn’t really anyplace like this in the area for rent.   These new apartments are beautiful and the amenties are first class.    You can stop by for a tour yourself; contact Brookside Commons via their website.  

Brookside Trick or Treat Street Tonight!

It’s time for the annual Brookside Trick or Treat Street, happening tonight from 4-6pm!

Even if you don’t have children who want to participate, this is a fun Fall neighborhood activity for all ages: just to watch the parade of kids and often their parents, in costume, going from shop to shop collecting goodies from our local merchants.

Please be aware, 63rd St at Brookside Blvd , Wornall to Main will be full of extra pedestrians and little ones during the late afternoon today. Please drive carefully or avoid these streets altogether for a couple of hours.

Thanks to the Brookside Business Association and all of our local merchants who keep this event going every year!


The Garmin Kansas City Marathon happens tomorrow and that means….major traffic disruptions from 7am through 2pm!

Attempt to drive at your own risk during this race..major, major delays!!!

Starting downtown and going through midtown, Westport, the Plaza and Brookside/Waldo to 75th St. It will be very, very difficult to drive in these areas during the race.

Please be aware and change your schedule accordingly!

Bicycle Depot in Waldo–Ready for All Area Cyclists

So often in Brookside and Waldo, you’ll patronize a business that you can really feel the owner has a passion for:  think of our local restaurants like Plate and Bella Napoli, or Brady and Fox; SKINKC, locally made chemical free products for your body; SOAP Refill Station creates ecofriendly cleaning products that uses recycled containers.  Dave Reinert, owner of Bicycle Depot in Waldo, has that passion. His passionate hobby  of repairing bikes turned into a full time business.

Bike Depot in Waldo
Dave Reinert and Bruce Homstad

Dave spent many years as a schoolteacher in public and private schools; at the same time, he spent 20 years repairing bikes out of his basement based on word of mouth referrals.  Business increased drastically during the pandemic, and with a “gentle push” from his family, he decided to open his own storefront.  Dave had experience working with non profit bike organizations, and stopped driving a car years ago. His brother also owns a bike shop in Minneapolis.   “I wanted to do something good for the environment. I have a real love for green transportation; it’s generally quiet and good for your health.  I regularly buy everything I need here in Brookside/Waldo  and wanted to open my shop in the area.  I live just a few blocks away! “   

Bicycle Depot focuses on bike service and repair (including electric bikes)  and sells bikes from State Bicycle Company and Batch Bicycles.   “The quality of these products is so much better than you will find at a big box store, and the riding experience will be much better” Dave says.  He also stocks some supplies like helmets and gloves.  He will take bike donations and sells used ones as well. Service and repair are his focus; you can walk in and get a free assessment of the problem, the cost to repair and the general turnaround is one or two days.  Longtime cyclists in the area may recognize Bruce Homstad in the shop, who worked for Family Bicycles—he’s been a certified bike technician for 30 years so you know…these guys know what they are doing when it comes to keeping your bike tuned up and ready to ride!

Bicycle Depot opened in March at 220A W 75th St; across the street from the Aldi parking lot and just east of the busy 75th and Wornall intersection.  Fall weather is a perfect time to ride, and there are so many trails in our area (Dave has a map!) so stop in and get to know Dave and Bruce for your bicycle needs.  They will make sure your ride is the best it can be!

Waldo Fall Festival Coming Sat Sept 17!

Happy anniversary to the 30th Annual Waldo Fall Festival!!

It’ s happening this Saturday, September 17, starting at 10am and running until 8pm. There will be many vendor booths, a few food trucks, plenty of live music and activities for the kids. The weather forecast looks perfect!

The festival is located at Gregory and Wornall so be extra careful if you are driving in that area Saturday–watch for extra pedestrians and kids running around!

Thank you for supporting our local vendors and activities!

“Micro Event Space” Opens in East Brookside

Cocoa Spaces, 912 E 63rd St

Every so often, you may have a need for a smaller, special gathering—perhaps a retirement party, baby shower, going away get together, intimate wedding, family reunion; or perhaps a small meeting, business brainstorming retreat or indoor photo shoot.  You don’t want the restrictions and pricing of a hotel meeting room or restaurant, yet no one’s personal home is quite right.  Consider East Brookside’s newest business:  Cocoa Spaces, a “micro event space” that could be just what you are looking for!

Porshia Mitchell

Owner Porshia Mitchell is an electrical engineer by trade, and she always loved being the planner for her friend’s gatherings.  “I love the idea of bringing people together to celebrate”, she says, and had been pondering the idea of opening up such a space for a few years. When she turned 30, she was looking for a space to celebrate with her friends and had trouble finding such a spot. Her passion project turned into a reality when Cocoa Spaces opened at the end of July.    Located at 912 E 63rd St at Harrison, the event venue offers 1300 SF, equipped with a kitchenette, mobile bar, TV and sound system, tables, chairs, and a small lounge area; it is ADA accessible.  Cocoa Spaces comfortably holds 50-60 people at tables or reception style.  Porshia has a list of vendors you can work with for décor, music and accessories; regarding food and liquor, bring in your own or use a caterer.   Parking is available  in front, on the street and east of Rockhill Road. Rental prices vary depending on how long you want the space; there is a three hour minimum.

I asked Porshia how she came up with the name Cocoa Spaces.  “As a black woman in the world, I’m here to take up space—I can do whatever I put my mind to!”  Then she added, “And I love chocolate!” There is a real need for these “micro spaces” for various events involving  friends, family  or co-workers, especially with the holiday planning season coming up!  Remember Cocoa Spaces the next time you are looking for a small, customizable space for a gathering.  Porshia grew up nearby and wanted to be in this area—support local!  Learn more about Cocoa Spaces on their website or follow them on Instagram @cocoaspaces.

New Feature at Leopold Gallery-Open to All!

How many times have you walked past Leopold Gallery…but didn’t stop in?  Perhaps you thought “well I can’t afford anything here” or “I don’t know anything about art”.  That’s what stopped me from browsing the gallery…until Paul Dorrell, President, invited me for a visit.  “I’ve got a new feature to show you—come on by!”.  And I did, thinking…this is a gallery, I’m not obligated to make a purchase…and I love browsing through art museums…I should have checked this place out years ago!

Paul grew up in Leawood  and studied art history at KU.  After a season on a fishing boat in Alaska, he worked as Assistant Director at the Hill-Stead Museum of French Impressionism in Connecticut, where he learned volumes about the art world. He moved back to Kansas City in the late 80s, met his wife Annie, and opened his gallery to primarily represent Missouri and Kansas artists.   His first space was at the old Hotel Savoy, followed by a place in  the Crestwood Shops.  After outgrowing that space, he moved to this location on 63rd St in 2007.  Leopold Gallery has over 8000 clients, and the majority of his sales are over the phone or online.  You’ve probably seen works from the artists he reps at the University of Kansas Health System, Arrowhead and Kaufmann stadiums, the Prairie Village Shops, Kansas State University, Disneyworld and even in some Marvel movies!  He’s also working on providing art for the new Ben Stiller comedy High Desert, coming this fall to Apple TV.

Paul Dorrell, Leopold Gallery

 Inside Leopold Gallery, you’ll see a broad range of works, including abstract, landscape and conceptual art. Chances are there is something you will enjoy looking at or thinking about. Paul gives back to our community as well. He established the Leopold Gallery Educational Foundation and actively works with Sumner and Paseo Academy art programs.  

So what is the new feature in the gallery?? It’s a two story slide!  He wanted to install a slide a year ago, inspired by his visit to the eclectic Meow Wolf space in Santa Fe.  “I want to make adults feel like kids again, and remove the intimidation that people can feel in a gallery” says Paul. He welcomes  all ages to take the plunge from the first floor to the lower level.  The ride is pretty slick and fast, surrounded by flashing lights all the way down… it’s fun and different and just a very welcoming feature of this space. Plus, there is no charge to enjoy the ride!

Stop in and say Hi to Paul, take a slide ride and enjoy the art the next time you are strolling by Leopold Gallery, 324 W 63rd St. Hours are 10am-6pm Monday through Friday, and 10-5 on Saturday.  

Time for the annual Brookside Sidewalk Sale!

Come out to support your local merchants this weekend…and pick up some hot summer deals! The Brookside Sidewalk Sale is happening Thurs/Fri/and Sat, July 7-9, 2022.

Browse the shops along 63rd St and find a little something for yourself or a special friend. You’ll find discounts and sales a plenty! And remember to take a break by grabbing a beverage or meal at one of Brookside’s fine restaurants and eateries.

The Shred Event is also happening on Saturday July 10, starting at 8am in the parking lot behind Jalapeno’s. More info here!.