The year was 1921.
World War I was over and the United States was not only recovering from the Great War but also rebuilding from the devastation of the Spanish Flu, which killed over 675,000 Americans from 1918 to 1921.
That year, Kansas City hosted the third annual national American Legion Convention which coincided with the dedication of the Liberty Memorial as “the war to end all wars.”
It was also the early days of Prohibition and a city alderman named Tom Pendergast was fighting for control of the local Democratic party with rival Democrat Joseph Shannon.
The same year, Italian immigrant Joe LaSala opened LaSala’s Sanitary Market at 910 E. Fifth St. in the Columbus Park neighborhood. The neighborhood was also known as “Little Italy” or “The North End.”
Grocery stores were among the first businesses opened in the early Italian immigrant communities, providing Italian cuisine staples such as olive oil, canned tomatoes, pasta, and deli meats at lower prices than more upscale markets. Many even offered grocery delivery services.
The LaSala family operated their grocery store and deli for decades, but by 1980, they changed the store into a full-service deli as they struggled to compete with larger supermarkets.
In 2012, LaSala’s shifted again and became The North End, a neighborhood bar and grill serving microbrews, cocktails, Italian comfort food, and many of the same sandwiches that LaSala’s was famous for, such as the Poor Boy, the Rich Boy, and the Supreme.
On Sunday, March 22, Kansas City’s Mayor Quinton Lucas issued a stay-at-home order in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19, which prompted the closure of all dine-in options and required restaurants to limit business to carry-out and delivery only.
Mike Elliott, the current owner of The North End, closed his restaurant briefly to assess how to continue operating under the new health guidelines.
Upon reopening, the near century-old restaurant continues to serve a full menu for carry out and delivery but also pivoted their business model, adding grocery delivery, just as Joe LaSala did almost 100 years ago. “I have this feeling that once these restrictions are lifted, people are just going to rally,” Elliott hopes, “but the grocery stores are running out of some stuff, and we have it in stock, and in some cases we can sell it for even less than you can buy it at the grocery stores.”
The North End will be offering customers an array of grocery items such as Mendolia’s Italian Sausages, deli meats, produce, breads, cheeses, beer and liquor from their personal inventory for delivery or curbside pickup. You can also order from their catering menu if you’d like a pan of lasagna or lobster ravioli, and as a bonus, for every $30 you spend, you’ll be entered into a raffle to win prizes.
You can place your grocery delivery by calling 816-421-2189, or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TheNorthEndKC and maybe order a Poor Boy Sandwich to go with it.