By Colette Panchot
Bryan Sparks and The Classic Cookie in Waldo go way back. At age 11, he was scooping cookie dough with his mom, who was a server there. Now he and his wife Hailey Sparks and their business partner Anthony Quirarte have revamped this mainstay into a bakery by day and a locally sourced restaurant by night.
“With Wild Rose Bistro, we wanted to bring something to Waldo that was missing. Some of the best bar and grill restaurants are located from 63rd to 72nd, but we have created something more farmer-driven,” says Sparks, a Kansas City native who was the Executive Chef at Jax Fish House, as well as being on the culinary teams at Rye and True Food Kitchen.
The space at 409 W. Gregory had not changed much since the Classic Cookie opened in 1998. The couple bought the property in 2021, and Sparks remodeled it with his father-in-law, giving it an updated look with a wood-framed bakery counter/espresso bar and expanded dining room seating. The commercial kitchen allows the Sparks to run their other business, Beloved on the Go, a catering and meal delivery service. The names of their restaurant and catering businesses were both inspired by their four-year-old daughter, Esme Rose. Her first name means “the beloved one” in French. Esme can sometimes be seen greeting customers at breakfast.
Chef Jade Vivalic has put her creative stamp on the restaurant since it opened in September. “She has the cleanest, most well-rounded palette. She is naturally gifted,” says Sparks.
A Los Angeles native, Vivalic studied at Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food in northwest Arkansas, worked as sous chef, and helped open several restaurants. She met Hailey Sparks when they both worked at North Italia in Overland Park, and the match seemed right.
“Whether it is street food or a fine dining experience, I am inspired by the restlessness of the city life and have a constant urge to push the boundaries on food,” says Vivalic.
Wild Rose Bistro has a small, regularly rotating menu that includes shareable plates and traditional-sized entrees, whose inspiration is drawn from many cultures and cuisines.
This reporter gives high marks to the fresh-made bread served warm with three house-made butters, followed by melt-in-your-mouth eggplant piccata with lemon sauce, accompanied by arugula topped with fresh parmesan. The hearty lamb entrée, which is braised for up to eight hours, paired well with its tasty vegetable ragu and wide pappardelle pasta noodles, which are made fresh daily. The only disappointment was the oatmeal scotchie being sold out.
“We want the menu to be loose and fun,” says Sparks. He adds that customers should not come expecting something they got several weeks before because menu items vary with the seasons, like the eggplant piccata, which may rotate off the menu even before this story goes to print.
“Waldo is a humble, upscale neighborhood. The people here are not flashy, but they have sophisticated taste,” says Sparks. He adds that the residents of Waldo and Brookside are “good at voicing their opinions,” so the culinary team will continually adapt to what customers want.
Wild Rose Bistro reservations are available from 4:30-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. They are hoping to get their liquor license soon. In the meantime, patrons may bring their own alcohol to enjoy with dinner.
The hours of operation for The Classic Cookie for the bakery, breakfast, and lunch are 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Bakery items can be ordered 48 hours in advance or from the online order page. Information can be found at classiccookiekc.com and wildrosekc.com.