From the Examiner By Bill Althaus
Mark Acton didn’t need to look at the menu for the new Lion’s Choice sandwich shop, at 4049 S. Little Blue Parkway in Independence.
“When you come to Lion’s Choice,” the Independence resident said, “you order roast beef – the best roast beef.”
His wife Lynnette nodded in agreement.
“I wanted to look at the menu, because they offer a lot more choices than I expected,” Lynnette said, “but I got roast beef – and it is delicious.”
Lion’s Choice CEO Mike Kupstas grinned at their comments.
Mike Kupstas, the CEO of Lion’s Choice, says the new location in Independence should do well. The company, based in St. Louis and favorite there for decades, is moving into the Kansas City market.
“We hear that all the time,” said Kupstas, who found out that Mike Acton discovered Lion’s Choice when he called St. Louis home for five years. “Our roast beef is ridiculously good – but I hope they will try some of our other menu items, too.”
The restaurant opened this week. Hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, with breakfast served from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and lunch from 10 a.m. until close. The company also is opening a site on 135th Street in Olathe.
As he glanced around the restaurant, which did not have an empty table on this busy Tuesday night, Kupstas talked about the reason for expanding from St. Louis to Independence.
“This was just a natural location,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many times we’ve visited guests in our St. Louis stores who drove up from the Kansas City area to fill their car with our great sandwiches.”
“Well, now we’re saving them that trip.”
Lion’s Choice was founded in 1967 by a group of friends who wanted to open a quick-serve restaurant that offered an alternative to the burger chains. The first store was in Ballwin, Mo.
“They wanted to provide a healthy alternative, the type of roast beef that Mom would cook at home,” Kupstas said. “We slow roast our roast beef three hours. We go through a three-step process with our french fries that includes brining, blanching and cooking them, and they are special.”
The Independence restaurant is one of the first locations to serve breakfast, and also features a display for breakfast pastries and grab-and-go items.
It also has a food truck that grabbed the attention of the Actons and many other patrons.
“I saw the food truck on Noland Road and was so excited when I found out that Lion’s Choice was coming to Independence,” Mark Acton said.
That’s just the response District manager Rick Orf was hoping for.
“We had the food truck at First Fridays in downtown Kansas City when it was 103 degrees, and it was worth every minute,” said Orf.
“We believe we are going to make a real impact in Independence and the Kansas City area.”