John and Kim Carlson love to take things that are just a little bit broken and bring them back to life.
Witness: the Do Drop Inn building at 22 SW Third St. in downtown Lee’s Summit.
A staple in downtown for more than five decades, the three-generation-owned bar called it a day back in March. The familiar dive went dark. The commercial real estate sign hung on the west wall.
And we all waited.
The Carlsons scooped up the iconic building and have transformed it into a visual envy of many. And on July 22, downtown and the Lee’s Summit community got the news it was waiting for: Sabor Latino will occupy the building, bringing it’s flare for Latin cuisine to an already bustling business district.
The building that once poured PBR and partied near the pool table will now feature Venezuelan Parilla, empenadas and drinks of passion fruit and Tamarindo.
It all came from the vision of John and Kim, who simply wanted to “white box” the building and lure the best possible tenant to the building. Sooner than they thought, Sabor Latino came calling.
“We didn’t have to design anything,” John said. “All we did was a historical renovation. We just brought it back to how it was built in 1886. To be able to uncover those arch windows, restore and use them again. It’s been pretty special to see come to life. We highlighted those arch windows, the tilt-in windows. We just followed the blueprint that was there from the old days.”
The Carlsons said they planned to be patient and picky when selecting the right business to move in and were pleasantly surprised how quickly it all came to fruition.
“We wanted somebody with a track record and Kim and I wanted something we could be excited about and proud about,” John said.
Not only a restaurant to be proud of and take pride in occupying the building, Kim said, but someone that would hold true to the history of the building.
“Sabor was kind of an early-on interest,” Kim said. “The more we we talked to them, the more interested they became. It’s almost cliche, but they seem like family already.
“They have an appreciation for the building and an appreciation for what was there.”
A Latin restaurant will certainly shake up the downtown Lee’s Summit district in a positive way. It’s likely the first of its kind in our downtown area. And the fact that they have been in business on Woods Chapel Road for many years already puts a lot of minds at ease as to their longevity.
Of course, before the first dish is ever served, first drink is ever poured or even the first table is brought in to the restaurant, the Carlsons had a mountain of work ahead of them.
The couple says the building was like a Christmas present to both of them. They purchased the building around March 15 and were officially done with renovations shortly after Fourth of July.
Some things were better than they anticipated, like the storefront. John describes the condition of that storefront as “shocking, as close to pristine condition for being over 130 years old.” On the other side, the back corner of the building ended up being a bigger job than they had anticipated
The inside decor and look will be entirely up to Sabor Latino.
The Carlsons simply put the shell together, transforming a building Sue Preiffer and her family for so many years kept family-owned and recognizable.
“We feel really fortunate we had an opportunity to do something,” John said. “We have been wanting to be in downtown for a long time, but couldn’t find the right entry point. And then this opportunity came along.”
The Carlsons have lived in Lee’s Summit for 15 years and moved here from northern California. Another success story in a long line of families who have taken interest in and invested heavily in our downtown historic area.
For the Carlsons, it was a labor of love as their children flew the nest and they were looking for a worthy project.
“When you get an empty nest, you have to fill it with something,” Kim said. “The building became our baby. But like having a baby, after awhile, I was ready for it to graduate and move out.”
Editor's Note: John Beaudoin is a Lee's Summit resident and award winning writer and former newspaper publisher in the Lee's Summit community. Views and opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily reflect those of Link 2 Lee's Summit, it's employees or any other guest contributors.