Cafe Europa, popular Kansas City eatery, expanding into Johnson County with Leawood location

Ben Cascio Cafe Europa

Cafe Europa, a Kansas City-based restaurant and store, is moving — and adding a restaurant in Leawood at 4343 W. 119th Street. Above, Café Europa owner Ben Cascio stands outside of the Crewstwood store, which has been operating for 17 years.

Cafe Europa, a Kansas City restaurant at 323 E. 55th Street, is growing into Johnson County.

Owner Ben Cascio said the pandemic allowed Cafe Europa to explore relocating from its current location at the Crestwood Shops in Brookside to the South Plaza in Kansas City and also open a new Leawood store at 4343 W. 119th Street.

When pandemic restrictions were put in place last year, Cafe Europa was only able to have diners at three tables and a bar stool.

Cascio shifted to a carryout model — and coupled with his grocery store background, that pivot led him to think about idea for a grab-and-go cafe in Leawood.

“It kind of came out of survival, and tapping into your background,” Cascio said. “All those years ago as a kid, working for your grandfather in a grocery store. All those things kind of came back.”

History in KC

Cafe Europa serves soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch and dinner. The in-house bakery features a well-known lemon cake, whole pies, quiches and cookies.

Cascio says the Leawood location will be full service, complete with a bakery, casual dining and a grab-and-go options.

There will also be a home goods section that will feature items like cutting boards and hand-painted Italian tableware.

Cafe Europa in Leawood will take over the space in the Town Center Crossing complex that was formerly Zoe’s Kitchen space. That aligns with Cascio’s goal to “fill the vacuum” with a local store and restaurant.

Cascio said Cafe Europa draws customers from throughout the metro, not just in Kansas City, Mo., but there’s a particular Leawood following that drew him to the new location.

“We feel like we’re fulfilling where we want to go, but more importantly, we feel like we’re fulfilling where our client is asking us to go,” Cascio said.

The South Plaza location at 4928 Main Street will open in October, and the Leawood store will open in February or March of 2022, Cascio said.

The Crestwood location will continue to operate as “an annex” store with grab-and-go options, he said.