Downtown. The heart. Where the City of Lee’s Summit began more than 150 years ago as the Town of Strother.
Now a thriving and bustling area of development, a central, focal point of business, a hub of artistic and cultural activity, Downtown Lee’s Summit is home to more than 150 businesses.
One of the oldest residing right here at 104 SE Third Street – home of Neighborhood Café and the famous cinnamon rolls!
Before there were 93,000 people in Lee’s Summit; before we were a town of 65+ square miles, we were downtown Lee’s Summit. A few blocks, dirt roads and miles of opportunity in front of us.
This building was originally a wagon repair structure in the early 1900’s, constructed as one of the first “strip” buildings in the downtown area and home to four businesses at the time.
Over time, the place where tens of thousands of families and diners have come to visit the re-creation of owners Tony and Kelly (and Abram!) Olson has taken on many different forms. From shoes to servers, 104 SE Third Street has a storied and rich history:
* In 1935, Clarence Brown Shoe Store opened at 104 SE 3rd Street.
* Also in 1935, P.C. Williamson Grocery Store opened at 106 SE 3rd Street.
* Welfare offices were also housed in these locations during the Great Depression.
* In 1950-51, Mildred & Jasper Brown opened a restaurant in what was once the shoe store, called Browns Steakhouse.
Browns served home-style food that had been passed down from generations. Even then, the concept of a “family owned” restaurant was important to downtown Lee’s Summit and the restaurant’s patrons.
Mildred and Jasper lived in the back of the restaurant and it has been said that if someone came knocking on the back door after hours, Mildred would open her arms and restaurant to feed them. Today, warm cinnamon rolls, friendly smiles and even the Olsons are daily staples at Neighborhood Cafe.
*Aug. 5, 1957, The Kozy Korner Café opens under Mary Lentz and Gordon Adams.
*1969, the restaurant changes hands, this time to Larry Kenemore, who names it the Chuck Wagon. Kenemore adds almost 1,000 square feet to the restaurant footprint.
*In 1971, Kenemore sold his restaurant to Linda and O.C. Roberts, who renamed the restaurant Linda’s Restaurant & Steakhouse.
*Restaurant becomes Ida’s Place in 1974-75.
*Fords Family Restaurant takes over in 1977.
*Nick and Cheryl Thompson purchase the business in 1988, as Thompson’s Restaurant.
The Thompsons kept the same type of food, but personalized their operation by talking to their guests and making people feel like this was their home. Everyone in their family worked here. The kids were seen rolling silverware, bussing tables and making pies. In 1991, a fire began in the kitchen and the restaurant sustained extensive damage. It was closed for several months while the place was rebuilt and reopened in 1992.
*November 1995, the Thompsons sold to Sue and Dave Meador, who open Sue’s Kitchen.
Here, the world-famous cinnamon rolls are born and become a staple item at the restaurant; everyone asked about them and wanted the recipe.
*Neighbor’s Café is born on Feb. 14, 2001 under Don and Sheryl Roberts and Phil Roberts.
*In January of 2011, Neighbor’s Cafe closed its doors. One month later, the restaurant was reopened as Neighborhood Cafe by Tony Olson, Bob Baker and Ben Wine. Neighborhood Cafe still serves the home-style favorites everyone has come to love and, more importantly, carries on the cinnamon roll tradition!
We invite you to come be a part of our history and the history of Downtown Lee’s Summit and our city.
The spirit of family, community and conversation is alive and well at Neighborhood Café.
Join the Olsons – and your neighbors – as we continue to make history!