With original concept falling through, owner looking for new restaurant to go in at 47th and Mission

Dawn Bormann - March 18, 2015 8:00 am
The Roeland Park building that sat across the street from Taco Republic is now a pile of rubble.
The Roeland Park building that sat across the street from Taco Republic is now a pile of rubble.

Demolition, a future restaurant, more parking and even food trucks were part of the discussion about one of Roeland Park’s hottest corners – the southwest edge of 47th and Mission Road.

Demolition has begun on the office buildings at the site and is expected to be complete this week.

But don’t expect construction to begin on a new restaurant yet. Tony Krsnich, president of Flint Hills Holdings, which purchased the property, told the Roeland Park City Council on Monday that he is still working to find a restaurateur for the site. He told the City Council that he has talked with restauranteurs for concepts that include a sushi restaurant or a wood-fired grill but those ideas have not materialized.

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In December, he indicated to the Roeland Park City Council that Bread & Butter Concepts, the company that runs Taco Republic as well as BRGR and Urban Table, was likely to be the restaurant partner for the site. That deal appears to have fallen through.

However, Krsnich said that he’s more determined than ever to find a restaurant for the site.

“We couldn’t be more bullish on the project but we are back to the drawing board,” he said.

In the meantime, Krsnich requested that the City Council loosen parking restrictions at the site. He has an existing parking lease agreement with Taco Republic, which is across the street in Kansas City. Kan., to provide 12 spaces for the restaurant. Krsnich asked for “as many parking spots as possible” while he continues to search for a restaurant at the site.

“Our livelihood for the success of this project is going to be predicated on the success of Taco Republic,” he said.

The City Council ultimately agreed to allow Krsnich to continue using 12 spots on the site for up to one year. But the governing body made it clear that anything beyond 12 spaces would have to go through a more detailed special zoning process just as other developers are required to do.

That’s, in part, because a parking lot without a structure is not allowed in that area.

City Councilors also expressed concern that a promising corner could turn into a non-revenue producing parking lot for a restaurant in another city.

“We’re merely the parking lot for the Kansas City restaurant and I don’t see what benefit that would have to any of the parties involved other than Kansas City, Kan. and the Taco Republic,” said City Councilor Jennifer Gunby.

Increasing visibility for the area is important, she said. But she was concerned that customers would park and take their wallets and sales tax into another city.

Others expressed concern that the parking lot could be a long-term problem.

Krsnich said he has talked to homeowners in the area about temporarily using some of the lot for food trucks until a restaurant can be developed. The response, he said, was favorable. The possibility would allow the city to collect sales tax. He emphasized that food trucks were not part of his long-term plan because that wouldn’t pay enough to cover his expenses.

“We need the brick and mortar restaurant, Krsnich said. “We just obviously can’t force it. We can’t bring a restauranteur out of thin air.”

However, he hasn’t formally presented a request for food trucks and city administrators said there are no written provisions for food truck in the city code.

Several City Councilors urged the developer to seek additional input from the 47th and Mission Road Committee, a multi-jurisdictional advisory group composed of members from Westwood, Roeland Park and Wyandotte County’s Unified Government.

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