13 Mar Caffetteria’s Second Birthday: Inspiration and Celebration
There’s nothing like good comfort food, especially when it’s time to celebrate! As Caffetteria Modern Café and Marketplace celebrates its second birthday, we talk to Jo Marie Scaglia—founder of Caffetteria and The Mixx—about her inspiration, launching the restaurant, and her hopes for the future of mindful eating.
Question: How did you first come up with the idea for Caffetteria?
Jo Marie Scaglia: The idea of Caffetteria floated around in my brain for probably five to six years before launching. Originally the concept was a little bit different than The Mixx, with the idea of having tray service—to go through the line and pick what you wanted. But what I discovered in creating the concept and the branding was that the essence of it is “slow food fast,” which became our motto.
So we deviated from the idea of tray service (for the ease of comfort in the restaurant and also to keep the concept a little more upscale) but we kept that idea with the artisanal plate, a build-your-own plate option, on the menu. At The Mixx, you can create your own salad—but at Caffetteria you can create your own artisanal plate. The menu evolved from there: pizzas, sandwiches, salads, homemade soups, bread, breakfast bowls, and more. All with that idea of slow food with a quick delivery.
Question: What made you decide to launch a new restaurant after opening three locations for The Mixx?
JMS: I’m a creative and that’s what makes me tick! The Mixx has been around now 14 years, and I always have to have a creative project going on—whether building and designing a restaurant or creating a new menu (I create menus all the time). Creating Caffetteria was kind of a creative outlet, but I also felt there was a need in Kansas City to have other healthy, mindful eating options.
Caffetteria has a little bit more upscale feel than The Mixx, but it still has that quick-serve advantage and value pricing. The location of Caffetteria was also picked intentionally; we wanted something that offered more of a gathering place to reflect its place in the community. With The Mixx, it felt like a need to nourish the body in the beginning—but then it grew and grew and became an important part of the community.
Question: How did you decide on Prairie village?
JMS: We wanted to offer another option for mindful eating—delicious food, made from scratch, sustainable—in the area, especially where there are more residences and more families.
Plus, we were so honored to have the opportunity to convert a 60-year-old building for Caffetteria. Bruce Smith Drugs had been there since the 1950s. We know how much people loved the Bruce Smith pharmacy and were so sad to see it go. But I think once we came into the community as a local business owner, we’ve made a great addition to the neighborhood.
Question: Caffetteria has a lot of heart evident in the space. Was this intentional during the planning, or was it something that’s come about organically?
JMS: It was definitely intentional; that’s just my philosophy! When I make something in the kitchen, someone will say, “Why does it always taste so good when you make it?!” I always say it’s because it’s made with love. When I get in the kitchen, it’s not really about reading a recipe and following the guidelines—of course we have to do that for standardization—but the love and the joy of cooking the food is so important. And it makes people feel good! So that’s the theory behind it.
Question: What inspires you today?
JMS: That’s a hard question because there’s usually more than one thing. I process things creatively and visually, and I love to create. It’s the creativity that drives me every day! You know, the first Mixx looked one way and then we redid it, and the second location was kind of evolved, and the third location is definitely the flagship of the three. But then I had to top the third one and I built Caffetteria.
As far as new recipes and ideas, I don’t have a lot of time to read and research, but I will flip through photographs of certain things or get a seasonal item from the farmers market. I draw from what’s put in front of me, and then develop an idea in my head. Getting feedback from team members and guests helps drive me to get there. Or sometimes it’s just about trying to create a menu item by taking something that was classic and turning it into something with a twist or a modernization. I want to be better every day, and that’s where my creative way of thinking usually kicks in.