The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

November 27, 2010

Wally Kennedy: Cafe on the Route chef working on restaurant in Gryphon Building

JOPLIN, Mo. — Richard and Amy Sanell are names you would easily recognize if you were from Baxter Springs, Kan.

Soon, the people of Joplin will be familiar with their names as well.

The Sanells operate the popular Cafe on the Route in Baxter Springs. They are opening a new restaurant that will be on the first floor of the Gryphon Building at 10th and Main streets in Joplin.

L.L. Sayer’s is to open sometime in February. The build-out is under way in the Gryphon.

Sanell, who has been a chef since the 1980s, is creating this restaurant more or less from scratch.

“This is the first undertaking for me that involves so much construction,” he said. “We started on the kitchen two weeks ago. We’re working with the city on this. The whole process is just amazing.’’

Sanell said the menu will be balanced against what already is being offered by existing restaurants in the downtown corridor. Sanell is fully aware that his downtown competitors operate some of the finest restaurants in the city, including the Red Onion, Club 609, Caldone’s, Wilder’s, The Kitchen Pass and Arde’s Bistro.

“I am looking at what is not there,’’ he said. “I’m also looking for a touch of the past or dishes of yesteryear. Dishes that might have been served at the Connor Hotel or the House of Lords.

“There will be some new things and twists on old classics. There will be a push for more organic choices.’’

The Sanells chose Baxter Springs because of the 1870s building that houses Cafe on the Route, and their bed and breakfast. They are choosing the Gryphon for L.L. Sayer’s for much the same reason.

“Joplin has done such an incredible job with its downtown,” he said. “That’s the thing we loved about the Gryphon. It’s along the downtown corridor, which is wonderful in itself.

“We think the Gryphon is in an area that will grow and become another district on its own.’’

The Gryphon will be the business address for several hundred people. Those people will need to eat.

When the Sanells opened Cafe on the Route, they were hoping their decision was the right one. That was 12 years ago.

“We found that the area has been stronger than we thought, particularly our connection to Route 66,” he said. “We are parlaying that into doing some other things. We hope to have three or four concepts going.’’

The Cafe on the Route will continue to operate. Luke Prauser, a native of Baxter Springs, is helping head up that kitchen.

Sanell has a rich history in food. He apprenticed at the Doubletree Hotel in Overland Park, Kan., and was a chef in the trendy Westport area. He was familiar with one of my favorite restaurants in Westport, the Prospect.

L.L. Sayer’s will serve lunch and dinner. It will have a coffee shop, a full bar and two banquet rooms.

SHOPPING TIP

Looking for something different to give as a gift this holiday season? Check out the Connor House Gallery, 612 S. Main St.

The shop, which features antiques, collectibles and quality consignments, is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Larry Black, the proprietor, has been collecting stuff for a long time and it shows. His collection is eclectic, ranging from pieces of furniture to dishes and old prints. This is quality, often one-of-a-kind merchandise.

“I do a lot of shopping — serious shopping — all over the place,’’ he said.

What’s striking about the Connor House Gallery is the pricing. It’s very reasonable. My suggestion is that if you find something you like, buy it immediately. Chances are it won’t be there when you look the second time.

Connor House Gallery was once the Little Connor Restaurant. The building, according to Black, was built in the 1880s as a hat shop.

If you have news about something that’s happening on Range Line Road or Main Street, call 623-3480, ext. 7250; or send an e-mail to wkennedy@joplinglobe.com; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 623-8598.

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