Neighborhood food hall opens in southeast Kansas City

Diane Hershberger and her husband, Rodger Kube, have lived in the Marlborough neighborhood in southeast Kansas City for nearly three decades.

As an interracial family, they like the area’s diversity, both racial and economic, as well as its proximity to U.S. 71 highway and the Brookside and Waldo neighborhoods. And their house is on a plot of woodland where they had an urban organic vegetable farm for 15 years.

The three block “village” at the heart of the area once had banks, doctors offices, a grocery store, restaurants and bars, car dealerships and even a movie theater. But now some buildings are used for storage and such, and not open to the public.

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Diane Hershberger and her husband, Rodger Kube, purchased the old Mama Tito’s restaurant building at 8026 the Paseo when no one else was interested. They want to redevelop the Marlborough neighborhood from the inside. Now the former Mexican restaurant is a mini food hall with coffee shop and Farm to Food Hall with sandwiches heavy on vegetables, burgers and wraps. Rich Sugg [email protected]

They want to change that, revitalizing Marlborough from the inside starting with their new “neighborhood food hall” called The Borough at 8026 the Paseo.

Mama Tio’s Mexican restaurant closed in the building in 2019 after four decades. When a new restaurant did not move in, the couple decided to buy the building and figure out a good use later.

“People would guess a mobile phone, cannabis, motorcycle shop,” Hershberger said. “But being involved in the neighborhood association, we knew people wanted places to eat. They would say ‘Why can’t we have anything nice?’”

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Diane Hershberger, middle, talks with a customer recently at The Borough. Rich Sugg [email protected]

That included menus that would offer a variety of items changing seasonally, healthy and freshly prepared. They wanted places with lots of natural light when many of the retail buildings have smaller windows for security issues, Hershberger said, “and coffee, they said coffee a million times.”

The couple started renovating the building about a year ago, planning to open a food hall. They researched food halls here, as well as in Oklahoma City and Des Moines, to get ideas. Most had four times as many kitchens.

When they couldn’t find vendors, they opened The Borough Coffee Shop in early April. It sells coffee drinks, chai tea lattes, iced tea, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and pastries such as croissants with cinnamon, spinach, feta or Nutella, red velvet muffins, danishes, pies and more, all made in-house. It uses Broadway Roasting Co. and Kultivate Coffee Co. And they added an ice cream cooler this week.

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The Borough opened recently at 8026 the Paseo. Rich Sugg [email protected]

Farm to Food Hall Kitchen opened in mid-April. It serves burgers and fries, veggie panini, pizza panini, mixed green salad with strawberries and almonds, grilled cheese with a choice of ham, breakfast burritos, chicken salad sandwiches, and turkey sandwiches with pickled red onions and German mustard (the turkey is roasted in-house).

“I don’t see it as a place that won’t change. We will have standards like burgers, but we think it is important to provide variety and to follow what’s available in the season,” she said.

There are now floor-to-ceiling windows along the front, including a garage door that will open in nicer weather and a walk-up window. The dining room is an open area with the kitchens on two sides.

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Brad Williams, left, serves a customer at The Borough. Rich Sugg [email protected]

It’s not an event space, but starting in June they plan to have some community programs for adults and children, hosting business and other groups — poetry nights, vinyl nights where customers can bring their vinyl records to play.

They also are looking for a vendor for the third kitchen space. It currently has some fryers but they are on rollers so can easily be removed.

“We clearly want an African American presence. Our neighborhood is 77% African American,” Hershberger said.

Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. It is closed Sundays.

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Joyce Smith has covered restaurant and retail news for The Star since 1989 under the brand Cityscape. She appreciates news tips.