Saturday, May 16, 2009
An Explorer Type of Find - in the 'Burbs
I've lived in northeast Johnson County (the Kansas City suburbs) for 36 years and I think I get around enough to know the territory. John's Space Age Donut Shop in Overland Park has been here even longer - since 1967.
So how did I learn about this timeless (or retro as the moderns are fond of saying) piece of Americana? From Tim Engle, a west coast travel writer who happens to love the kitschiness of Kansas City, as detailed in his upbeat and fascinating article in the April 12 issue of the Kansas City Star Magazine. Any place that has to do with food, sweet stuff especially, should be checked into, of course, and I felt it my duty to do so.
Space Age Donuts is a second generation, family-owned shop at 8124 Floyd Street, where that street V's into Metcalf Avenue. It's in the same building with another long-time Overland Park hi-carb haven, the Tony's Villa Capri Italian Restaurant. It is also a risky, catty-corner run across the street from the venerable, iconic White Haven Motor Lodge, which I assume is still the traveling salesman's favorite place to stay in KC. (Do traveling salesmen/salespersons still exist?)
One step inside the donut shop, and you are transported back to 1967 (time travel in Engle's words). The formica-topped, chrome-legged tables and chairs could have come from the kitchen of the post World War II tract home in which I grew up. The U-shaped counter and stools surely must have been ripped out of my home town's long-gone White Way Cafe. Coffee drunk on premises is 70 cents a cup. Arriving at about 10:30 in the morning, I learned that John probably wouldn't be open much longer that day, as his morning's make of sweets was just about gone, in part due to the fact that it was Secretary's Day or Administrative Assistant's Day or Boss' Day or something. No way to say "thanks, you are appreciated" like tons of calories. All that was left were a few cake donuts (which I prefer to glazed anyway), and to my delight - apple fritters. I ate the cake donut in the parking lot, then took the apple fritter home to briefly zap in the microwave and eat after lunch. Yes, indeed, one of life's great, but guilty, pleasures which I rationalized by reminding myself I had lost nearly 40 pounds on a diet.
It's getting more and more difficult to return to that diet.