By Kevin Collison
It didn’t take long for Jeff Henkle to know he found the right spot to reincarnate Nature’s Own.
Residents in the River Market were so eager to shop at his new full-service grocery store at 310 E. Fifth St. he opened several days earlier than anticipated on June 18.
“So many people were coming to the door, we opened early,” Henkle said. “We’ll have the grand opening the first part of August.”
For six years, Henkle and his wife Suzanne ran Nature’s Own at 43rd and Main streets in midtown Kansas City. Then came a damaging fire in April and a decision to uproot and relocate to serve the booming downtown residential community.
At first, they looked at the Crossroads area, but decided there weren’t enough people living there yet.
And then, a friend introduced them to developer Chris Sally. He owned space that once housed an old Muehlebach Brewery operation across Oak Street from another River Market landmark, Le Fou Frog restaurant.
The 3,000 square-foot building looked perfect, with plenty of parking and close to the new streetcar line as well. They concluded the deal in another River Market stalwart, Harry’s Country Club bar and grill.
“There’s a lot of housing going up,” Henkle said. “That’s what attracted us, the growth of the area and the lack of grocery stores.”
And the new Nature’s Own is not a small corner market. Henkle said their new grocery store stocks everything a household needs. It specializes in organic and locally-grown food.
“We didn’t want to have to to another store, so we carry everything,” he said.
And by mid-July, Nature’s Own expects to have a license to sell beer and wine.
Henkle also anticipates using the courtyard in front of his store for neighborhood events like classes and yoga instruction.
“The reaction has been very positive,” Henkle said. “The residents are really happy they have someplace close to shop.”
Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.