By Kevin Collison
For Kathy Hale, bringing her concept that specializes in selling prepared, healthy meals that people can then heat at home to the East Crossroads is an idea five years overdue.
She had started her first bricks-and-mortar canihaveabite in Waldo in 2014 and needed a new home for her growing business.
“I started looking at the Crossroads in 2015 but I didn’t see anything so that wasn’t the right time,” Hale said.
“I’m a lifetime Kansas City native and I love that area. I love the diversity of restaurants down there and I love First Fridays.”
Now, after stops in Independence, Brookside and the Country Club Plaza, she’s opening her eatery in the former Howard’s Grocery, Cafe and Catering space at 1708 Oak. Howard’s closed at the end of December after five years.
While canieatabite specializes in prepared meals to-go, it also plans to offer in-house dining depending on Covid restrictions and the weather. It’s a smaller space with a diner-style counter and room for three tables inside and five on its outdoor patio.
“Our focus has been on meal-prep, basically entrees and sides, so people don’t have to cook when they get home,” Hale said.
“Our entrees and other things are sold in compostable packages which is important to me. I’m an environmentalist and have been for a long time. It’s important to create minimal waste.”
Her meals also are very much on the healthy side.
“I do vegan and paleo entrees and I try to be as organic as I can be,” Hale said.
“I focus on the purity of ingredients and flavor. There’s a lot of vegetables and flavors from all over the world including Spain, Mexico and Thailand.
Some of the dishes include skillet tamales, pot pies and Dorothy’s chicken and rice, a comfort dish named after Hales’s mother. Many meals are gluten-free.
When Covid hit a year ago, Hale believed her concept would do well because it emphasized meals that people could purchase and take home. She had taken over the former Eden Alley space in the lower level of Unity Temple at the Plaza.
“It seemed like a smart move,” she said. “I saw the plan for the new Nordstrom and I though we’d get a lot of traffic.”
But the plan to build a new Nordstrom fell afoul of the pandemic. Originally scheduled to open late this year, that timetable has been shoved back until the end of 2023. In the meantime, the big construction site deterred customers.
That prompted the decision to take the Howard’s space, and Hale is excited about serving not only downtown residents, but customers from throughout the metro.
“Because the focus is more on pick-up as opposed to dine-in, we needed easy access,” she said. “It’s easier for people to get to the Crossroads than Brookside and the Plaza.
“There’s also so many apartments going up in the Crossroads for young professionals and people who want to live downtown, but don’t want to cook at the end of the day.
“Our meals are easy to take out of the refrigerator or freezer and put in the oven.”
Canihaveabite is having a soft opening beginning this Friday and Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. for take-out service featuring entrees, soups and beverages. A grand opening with an expanded menu is scheduled for March 19.
Regular hours are expected to be Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 7 p.m. That schedule could evolve as pandemic restrictions ease, the weather improves and there are more opportunities for people to dine-in.
More information can be found on the canihaveabite Facebook page.
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