Click to View Latest IssueClick to View Latest Issue

Grand Street: Elegant, Inviting Cuisine and Atmosphere

By  0 Comments

Customer loyalty is the ingredient to 30 years of success at Grand Street’s modern American cuisine, especially through the pandemic. Original owners Rick and Kristi Ghilardi feel a debt of gratitude to the patrons of Greater Kansas City for their support and devotion throughout the years.

The family-owned restaurant is celebrating its 30th anniversary in July 2021, and Rick and Kristi have been a part of this Kansas City legacy since the beginning. In fact, the restaurant is the place where their love story began. Rick was the general manager when he hired Kristi and it wasn’t long before the two fell in love and married. 

Today, Grand Street has two locations in Kansas City; the original restaurant opened in 1991 just east of the Country Club Plaza, and their second restaurant at the Lenexa City Center East opened in 2013.

As owners, Rick and Kristi work in the restaurant, greeting guests and working alongside staff. Rick is mostly stationed at the Plaza location, and Kristi is in Lenexa. This management style has set them apart from the national corporate restaurants and helped develop strong relationships with customers. The owners know many of their guests by name and customers love seeing Rick and Kristi when they walk through the doors.

When the pandemic hit last year, Grand Street’s loyal guests helped sustain the restaurant as best they could through carryout orders, extra tips and voicing their support. Like all formal dine-in restaurants throughout the country, the locations closed for a period of time, staff was placed on unemployment and when the restaurant opened, menus and operations had to be adjusted to comply with restrictions. Operating during the pandemic was less than ideal, and the Ghilardis are still dealing with the aftermath.

But most overwhelming to Grand Street was that event bookings canceled. Both locations offer a large event space along with two smaller ones. Thankfully, family events, reunions, retirement parties, rehearsal dinners and weddings have started to schedule again. The restaurant owners are excited to welcome back business, corporate and out-of-town convention events and hope that day comes very soon. 

“Our locations are unique. Both of our spaces are in office buildings and we depend on the support of businesses. That’s what has kept us going throughout the years,” said Rick. “If you’re from out of town, you might just walk into a restaurant on the plaza, but those guests will have a much harder time happening upon us because of our location.”

The plaza’s beautiful, elegant dining location featuring the notable green booths is open for lunch and dinner, and these warm-weather months are perfect for evenings on the gorgeous patio complete with firepit. In Lenexa, the color scheme is blue but the quiet dining ambiance is the same, with sophisticated style and a popular glitzy bar with adjacent outdoor seating.

After 30 years in business, it’s clear that guests are returning to the Grand Street Café for more than just their love of the owners; it’s the quality and consistency of the food that keeps us regulars coming back for our favorite lunch and dinners. And, of course, Kansas Citians love to support local!

I had an incredible experience savoring some of the restaurant’s most popular items, the chef’s favorites and even a menu item that’s remained a staple for 30 years. Everybody loves a good hamburger, and Grand Street has it perfected. The Grand Street Cheese Burger features two four-ounce Angus smash patties, soft and melty Muenster cheese, a pile of caramelized onions, pickles on an egg bun with fries. This is my kind of burger!

I would have finished off the burger, but the Buttermilk Fried Chicken sandwich arrived to the table. If you’ve read my Cravings, you know I’m a flavor and condiments junkie, so this is a menu item with my name written all over it. It’s a thick and flawlessly fried oversized chicken breast heaped with Brussels sprout slaw, pecorino peppercorn dressing, pimento cheese and pickles on that egg bun with fries. I didn’t even need the fries this time because the sandwich was the featured attraction. 

My dining companion always orders the same thing at Grand Street, the White Flatbread. This is a unique item, and now I see why she loves it! The base is a white cheddar fondue topped with shaved Brussels sprouts, bacon, candied garlic syrup, roasted garlic and finished with mozzarella. Wait, go back and read those ingredients! Wow! Executive Chef Nickolai McPartland outdid himself with this flavorful masterpiece. 

After 30 years, the Bill’s Chicken Salad, the Phyllo Brownie and the Smoked Pork Chop are still on the menu and still some of the most-ordered items. The pork chop has changed slightly throughout the years. Today, it’s a melt-in-your-mouth large smoked pork chop with smoked bacon mac and cheese, sherry barbecue glaze and amazing spiced barbecue chicharrone, which are deep-fried pork skins, perfectly seasoned and made in house. 

With all recipes created in-house by Chef Nick and team, tested by staff and customers and every single thing made from scratch, you can taste and feel the difference at Grand Street Café. That’s the essential ingredient to loyalty!

Find Grand Street at either location, 8815 Renner Blvd., Lenexa,  913-601-3500 and 4740 Grand Avenue, Kansas City, 816-561-8000.

Written by: Megan Neher

Journalist-turned-PR-professional Megan Neher has never forgotten her true first love: writing. Today, Megan owns her own PR firm, Megan Neher Public Relations; she’s a wife, mom, marketer, student and spends a lot of time cleaning up after her four pets and two teenagers. Her dream is to live on a tropical beach somewhere where she can stroll barefoot to a nearby grass hut for a fish taco and margarita.