New Red Bridge Shopping Center Tenants Share Future Plans
Red Bridge Shopping Center is well on its way to reconstruction. By year end, three new businesses will be located there. These tenants share their future plans.
Blue Bicycle Fitness Center
by Kathy Feist
Jan Schmidt has been on the phone for 20 minutes with AT&T trying to transfer phone and internet services. But while most people might be frustrated, Schmidt is smiling. She cannot contain the excitement of opening her own business.
Schmidt is the new owner of Blue Bicycle Fitness Center, formerly Bene-Fit Health & Fitness in the Red Bridge Shopping Center. She purchased the business from Bill Jenske, a former fitness center director at KU Medical Center, whom she began working for in 1990. In 2004, he opened Bene-Fit. Schmidt followed him south, eventually overseeing the business when he and his wife Bobbi moved to Biloxi, Miss.
In addition to the present 6000 sq. ft. space, Blue Bicycle will expand north into a portion of the former Red Bridge Theater. The space is narrow and L-shaped, awkward to develop for Lane4, according to Schmidt. But for Blue Bicycle it opens up 6000 more square feet of possibilities.
First, Schmidt will have to connect the two spaces by installing a couple of doors in the weight-bearing wall. The wall was once the south end of the original 1959 shopping center.
She plans to extend the crowded weight room at the back of the building into the new space.
She will build a second workout class room toward the front of the new space. This will enable her to offer 1-hour classes every 30 minutes, accommodating customers’ schedules particularly after work. She plans to add more classes, even taking them outside.
“I would like to walk over to Minor Park and conduct yoga classes,” she says. “Or do boot camp in the grass behind the library. Or start bike rides from here.”
Schmidt will tear down the walls of one current office space and replace it with a retail shop for pre-packaged food items, fitness apparel and workout supplies.
The tanning room will change to a massage room.
She plans to install east to west running strips, squat racks, cages, a yoga rope wall, a few new treadmills and of course bicycles.
The purple color scheme will be replaced by the trendier gray, blue and light green colors.
The 1000 members will experience a slight increase from $10 to $15 in monthly dues, remaining a good deal for an exciting property.
by Kathy Feist
Kevin Euston is excited about returning to the Red Bridge Shopping Center after a 20-year absence. He will open Euston Hardware, which operated in the southwest corner of the shopping center (across from the library) from 1985 to 1997. This time, however, the space will be three times larger than the first. Euston Hardware will occupy 15,000 square feet, the west half, of the former bowling alley. It is scheduled to open in the fall.
“We are so glad the area is going to get a renaissance,” he says. “[Returning] was a no-brainer.”
Kevin and his wife, Kathy, have fond memories of the area. Kathy was raised in the Red Bridge area. Kevin remembers shopping at Macy’s with his mother. He also remembers “running around” the bowling alley as a child while his father bowled.
The Eustons are asking the community for photos of the old bowling alley: birthday parties, bowling teams, individual shots, etc. They plan to copy them and put them on display as part of the decor at the new store.
In addition to paying homage to the old bowling alley, Euston plans to extend out 10 to 15 feet on the west side of the building for a Garden Center. They plan to have a large, extensive garden center, similar to the one at their store in Smithville.
He also plans to open a rental department for items as diverse as gardening supplies, power equipment, party tables and chairs, and even popcorn carts.
The Red Bridge store will be the Eustons’ fourth location. The other three are located in Waldo, Smithville and the Village Shops in Prairie Village, which is another Lane4 redevelopment.
Euston Hardware originally opened in 1971 by Kevin’s father, Ken. The hardware stores continue the traditional service of an old-fashioned neighborhood hardware store. Based on the 300 plus neighbors who came out for the groundbreaking ceremony, the Eustons came to the right place.
If you have photos taken of the former bowling alley and would like to share them for display at the hardware store, contact Kathy Euston at email@example.com.
Sofi Cucina Italian Restaurant
By Ingrid Keizer
The announcement of the renovation of the Red Bridge Shopping Center in south Kansas City delivered the news that the former Bruce Smith Drug Store will be home to Sofi Cucina Italian Restaurant. Bret Springs and Zach Marten of Back Napkin Restaurant Group have joined with Chef Alex Staab to conceptualize the Mediterranean themed restaurant. Back Napkin is attributed to the cleverly named Rnd Corner Grille housed in the former Round Corner Drug Store in Lawrence, Kansas.
Rockhurst Highschool “01” grad, Staab, comes by his passion for Italian cuisine honestly. His Sicilian heritage beckoned to him to travel throughout Italy where he gained an appreciation for each region’s specialties and culture of cooking. He has witnessed firsthand the daylong processes of simmering sauces and fillings, painstakingly preparing handmade pastas and the intoxicating experience of enjoying the finished product. In Italy he gained an appreciation for using simple, quality ingredients that used together, create subtle flavors meant to be savored and celebrated. It is with great anticipation and excitement that he sets forth his plans for Sofi.
Sofi will bring unique offerings to the Kansas City community with delectable choices such as handmade pastas made from ingredients like squid ink or spinach or beets. Staab will make sourcing local ingredients a priority. He recognizes that Kansas Citians want to support local farmers and that community sourced ingredients offer the level of flavor and freshness that only “local” can offer. He anticipates frequenting area farmer’s markets and gaining relationships with area growers.
While there is an abundance of fresh vegetable dishes that Sofi will offer, meat eaters will be lured by robust temptations like wild boar ravioli sourced from Kansas City based producers like Arrowhead Specialty Meats, purveyors of game meats and other specialties. Staab recognizes that ingredients like “Squid Ink” might be a new experience for some diners and that a learning curve might exist. Daily specials will offer diners an opportunity to experiment with new flavors without a huge financial commitment.
Sofi Cucina Italian Restaurant is slated to open by year end.