‘Why can’t we have something nice?’ Now there is a food hall

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

As an interracial family, they love the area’s diversity, both racial and economic, as well as its proximity to US Highway 71 and the Brookside and Waldo neighborhoods. And their home is on a wooded lot where they’ve had an urban organic vegetable farm for 15 years.

The three-block “village” in 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 are not open to the public.

Diane Hershberger and her husband, Rodger Kube, bought the old Mama Tito restaurant building at 8026 the Paseo when no one else was interested. They want to redevelop the Marlborough district from the inside. Today, the former Mexican restaurant is a mini food hall with cafe and Farm to Food Hall with veggie-rich sandwiches, burgers and wraps.

They want to change that, revitalizing Marlborough from within 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 didn’t move in, the couple decided to buy the building and find a good use for it later.

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

Diane Hershberger, middle, chats with a client recently at The Borough.

Diane Hershberger, middle, chats with a client recently at The Borough.

This included menus that would offer a variety of seasonally changing, wholesome, and freshly prepared items. They wanted places with lots of natural light when many retail buildings have smaller windows for security reasons, Hershberger said, “and coffee, they’ve 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, for ideas. Most had four times as many kitchens.

Finding no vendors, they opened the Borough Coffee Shop in early April. It sells coffee drinks, chai tea lattes, iced tea, freshly squeezed lemonade and pastries such as cinnamon rolls, spinach, feta or Nutella, red velvet muffins, danishes, pies and more, all homemade. He uses Broadway Roasting Co.. and Kultiver Coffee Co. And they added a cooler this week.

The borough recently opened at 8026 Paseo.

The borough recently opened at 8026 Paseo.

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, salad sandwiches chicken 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’s important to offer variety and follow what’s available in season,” she said.

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

Brad Williams, left, serves a customer at The Borough.

Brad Williams, left, serves a customer at The Borough.

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

They are also looking for a supplier for the third kitchen space. He currently has a few fryers but they are on rollers so can be easily removed.

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

Opening hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. It is closed on Sundays.