Eric Dwyer and his parents helped kick off a River Market revitalization in 2000 with a cafe that became a community gathering place. Other restaurants have since joined them on Delaware.
But Dwyer said his Cafe al Dente doesn’t fit the vision of the building’s new owner, who plans the latest revitalization of the strip.
“The property manager had agreed to a new lease but then I didn’t hear a word from them for over a month. Then I get a letter telling me I’m basically getting kicked out,” Dwyer said. “We’re a casual restaurant where you can come in and get a great meal — made from scratch — and not spend your paycheck. The River Market needs that.”
Officials with property manager the Lofts at the Delaware Landing declined to comment, referring calls to new owner, the Denver-based Epoch Developments. A spokeswoman for Epoch Developments declined to comment.
It also recently put Kansas City Light Rail Car No. 551 on a parcel just south of the Cafe al Dente space. Dubbed Trolley Tom, the trolley car went into service in 1947, traveling Kansas City streets until 1957.
Trolley Tom is set to be an informational kiosk, photo op and seasonal refreshment stand — serving such items as hot chocolate in the fall and winter, and ice cream in the spring and summer. Negotiations for other new tenants along Delaware also are in the works.
Dwyer and his parents, Jacqueline and Leonard Dwyer, opened Half-Time Pasta & Pizza in July 2000 at 412 Delaware St., Suite D, and then changed the name and concept to Cafe al Dente about 15 years ago, expanding the menu with more salads, pastas and specials.
Now the sole owner of the restaurant, Eric Dwyer also has been flipping houses on the side and plans to do that full-time after the restaurant closes at the end of business Sept. 30. He’s trying to find other positions for his 15 employees
“It costs $100,000 to open a new restaurant and it’s too time consuming,” said Dwyer, 48. “I’m too old. I can’t start over now.”