Shawnee Magazine Summer 2020

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There's always something NEW TO DISCOVER in Downtown Shawnee. TASTE local flavors, grab a bite to eat at one of our local restaurants. INDULGE in retail therapy with boutique shopping. UNCOVER Shawnee's rooted history with an outdoor escape.





shawnee magazine


Editor Jean Teller Designer/Art Director Alex Tatro Copy Editor Leslie Andres Account Executive Angie Taylor Contributing Photographers Kevin Anderson Sarah Reeves Contributing Writers Debra DeCoster Jill Dutton Jackie Hostetler Beth Kornegay Kari Williams

Publisher Director

Bill Uhler Bob Cucciniello

Shawnee Chamber of Commerce

dear reader, Summer is almost gone, and the start of school looms, though it is certain to look very different from how it did last fall. The world changed, and we continue to search for a path through this new landscape. This magazine was originally scheduled to reach you early in the summer, and we had barely begun to plan the articles when .… Well, you know the rest of that story. With our writers and photographers sheltering in place, and the subjects of our articles doing the same, we found it a mite difficult to make connections, conduct interviews, and snap photographs. While it’s taken a bit longer to make its way to you, this issue of Shawnee Magazine highlights the summer wonders of Shawnee. On these pages you’ll discover the city’s pools and parks, the Mid-America Sports Complex, Park Lanes Family Fun Center, and three businesses that call Shawnee home: Sancho’s StreetSide, The Red Thread, and Drastic Measures. Now, the magazine is in your hands, and while some locations remain closed (please check before heading out), we hope you’ll hold on to the issue. And dream. Dream of slicing through refreshing pools with water slides and diving boards, of sliding home to the cheers of a friendly crowd, of watching a bowling ball glide down the lane for a STRIKE! and more of your favorite summer activities. All of which you will find in this diverse, delightful, and vibrant city, and, soon, you will again be able to experience the sights, sounds, and flavors—and the fun!—of Shawnee. Stay well,

President | CEO Chief Operating Officer Administrative Manager Member Engagement Manager Communications Manager

Visit Shawnee

Executive Director

Eric Ely Amy Niemann

Shawnee Magazine is a publication of Sunflower Publishing, a division of Ogden Publications. (888) 497-8668 FIND US ON


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editor, Shawnee Magazine







Kevin Fern

Shawnee Economic Development Council Director, Business Development and Retention Projects Coordinator



Ann Smith-Tate Mary Taylor Marlene Shirley Brandon Wilcox Dustin Wolfe


On the cover

Waiting for the action to begin! A player at the Mid-America Sports Complex stands ready for the next hit to head his way. Photograph courtesy Visit Shawnee


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Store showcases unique artwork from local artists and from artists around the world.

The new Drastic Measures offers a unique evening experience.

City aims to have green spaces near every neighborhood.

Sancho StreetSide owner focuses on unique flavors.



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Three generations have helmed the family-centric entertainment at Park Lanes Family Fun Center.


The new SMSD Aquatic Center glides into Johnson County.


Renovations promise growth for sports complex.


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story by Debra DeCoster photos by Kevin Anderson

Shop for a Cause Store showcases unique artwork from local artists and from artists around the world.


usan Pettit has worn many hats: wife, mother, registered nurse, and missionary. Now, she’s added a new one: store owner. The Red Thread in Shawnee showcases the artistic talent of artists from Haiti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Vietnam, as well as artists from Shawnee and Gladstone, Missouri. When thinking about a name for her store, she found a Chinese proverb that she felt perfectly described the store: “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.” She purchased a home at 11405 Johnson Drive (it had previously housed a veterinarian office and a chiropractor office) and turned



it into a showcase for art. Each room exhibits original artwork: pottery, wildlife wood-carvings, watercolor paintings, and more. Handmade rugs, baskets, and quilted wall hangings share a room with hand-crafted jewelry adorning old dressers. “I am amazed at the jewelry pieces that the artists send in. The pieces are never the same. Even though it is the same product, such as earrings or necklaces, each one is different,” Pettit says. One of several jewelry artists featured at The Red Thread is Julie Koch. Her designs are earth inspired, using precious metal clay and silversmith methods. “I have always loved jewelry. I create jewelry inspired by the places I explore,” Koch says.

Step inside the kitchen of The Red Thread and find pot holders, covers for bowls, and dish towels. A light fragrance wafts from the bathroom, where there’s a delightful display of local handmade Firefly Soaps, created by three sisters inspired by their heritage and childhood to make soap with scents that conjure memories. Shoppers will find original art pieces or framed prints for sale. Pettit points to the work of a 16-year-old whose watercolor paintings feature wildlife. “She is not ready to give up her originals, so we have her prints for sale. She may be giving some art classes here at the store,” Pettit says. As local artists discovered her store, they began to come in and talk with her about displaying their work. “I currently have about 25 artists …. I have at least four artists (who) live here in Shawnee,” she says. The artists who submit work to The Red Thread range in age from 16 to 85. The mission of The Red Thread is to combine local talents with those of Haiti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Vietnam, as a way of promoting a self-sustainable lifestyle that will continue for generations to come. Every turn in the house holds a surprise as shoppers browse handmade shopping bags, a locally produced calendar planner, greeting cards, baby items, and wooden toys. “We at The Red Thread are grateful and truly honored to showcase the talents of so many creative, hard-working artisans and their crafts,” Pettit says. The store also sells CDs from pianist and composer Joseph Nimoh. His music ranges from classical to jazz to gospel, and is crafted to inspire hope and bring healing to his audience. Pettit originally opened The Red Thread in 2017 in Gladstone, Missouri, then relocated the business in October 2019 to Shawnee. “Presently we don’t have a huge amount of people through the door every day, but it is enough. I find that word of mouth is the best advertising for us,” Pettit says. Hoping to increase public awareness of the store, Pettit and several artists had planned to attend this year’s Old Shawnee Days; though this year’s event was canceled, the 2021 event will be June 3–6. “This will be our first time there. I am told about 250,000 people attend the event every year. We are looking forward to that. I am meeting with the artists to talk about how they want that to run,” she says. Accomplishing a dream to showcase talented artists from overseas and in her local community has been a blessing for Pettit. “What I love about the work I am doing now is meeting the people that I would probably never (have) met before, seeing the talent out there and the new ideas they come up with all the time for their art,” she says. Currently, Pettit is adding a breakroom for staff and visiting artists. A wheelchairaccessible ramp is being added, and she plans to create a sitting area outside the store. “I want to put in a rain garden. We will have a sitting area as well. (Passersby) are welcome to come in the shop and look around or they can just sit outside and relax,” she says.

“We at The Red Thread are grateful and truly honored to showcase the talents of so many creative, hard-working artisans and their crafts.”

On Johnson Drive, The Red Thread accepts consignments from area, national, and international artists, such as Lillie Howard of South Carolina who displays her sweetgrass baskets (top) at the store.

Visit The Red Thread

11405 Johnson Drive Shawnee, KS 66203 913-526-9940 Closed Sunday and Monday; open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday | SHAWNEE MAGAZINE



story and photos by Jill Dutton


Crafting Cocktails The new Drastic Measures offers a unique evening experience.


n 2017, Jill Cockson envisioned and created Swordfish Tom’s, a preProhibition–style cocktail bar located in the Crossroads of Kansas City. She’s now expanding her vision to Shawnee and partnering with Jay Sanders, previously the general manager at Manifesto, and Shelley and Derick Shackelford, owners of the building where the new bar Drastic Measures is located. Sanders will act as operating manager of the establishment. Jay and Jill enjoy the atmosphere in the photo above.



Cockson was drawn to Shawnee after meeting the Shacklefords and learning of their newly purchased building. “We met and Derick said, ‘I like smaller markets. I think the future is smaller neighborhood bars,’” she says. Cockson and Sanders agreed Shawnee was a great location. Sanders says there’s a need for a neighborhood gathering spot in the suburbs. “I’m 32 and a lot of my friends are my age. We don’t always want to drive all the way downtown for a craft cocktail,” he says.

Cockson adds, “I think you can create really unique, special spaces in neighborhoods that are being underserved right now.” “And the city is so accommodating for us,” Sanders says. Swordfish Tom’s is a speakeasy in the Crossroads district where you take an alley and go down the stairs to find a waiting room with a light above the door. A green light means there’s seating available; red means they’re at full occupancy. The concept will be similar at Drastic Measures,

and a light will let guests know if the bar is at its 40-max occupancy. “The model is the same but the face is a little different,” Sanders says. “We want to create an atmosphere where it’s like you’re coming to your living room, as opposed to a cold and unwelcoming space. We want people to be able to connect and have a conversation. That’s always our No. 1 agenda,” Cockson says. Sanders says, “We call it your neighborhood craft cocktail.” The name “Drastic Measures” relates to cocktail ingredients being precisely measured. It’s “drastic” because the owners like to stretch the creative ways they do things—yet they do so in measured, thoughtful ways. “So I thought (the name) was a great … juxtaposition of words, and it’s a nice colloquialism. So we’re going to do hopefully nice, farreaching, cool, thoughtful things, but with a very measured, tempered approach,” Sanders says. Sanders brings an impressive background in cocktails and is eager to create a custom menu for Drastic Measures. “I like doing bright flavors—not necessarily tropical or island—but like bright and unique flavor combinations using a variety of spirits, agave spirits or Aquavit, or just things that I personally like that maybe not a lot of people know about. I want to share, and I want them to like them too,” Sanders says. “I want to offer offbeat little things, but also very balanced. We’re not doing anything crazy. If you come in and you want something off the menu, such as a rum and Coke, well, we don’t offer Coca-Cola, but we do create our own cola syrup. Would you like to try that? We want you to be able to order whatever you want. “At the same time, everything we make is in-house. We try not to source anything.” The owners have designed the bar and the menu to enable drinks to be prepared as fast as possible. So while there are 12 craft cocktails on the menu, everything is readily available to quickly accommodate an off-the-menu request. Sanders is also creating a nonalcoholic selection of craft drinks. Sanders wants everyone to know they can create these same craft drinks at home, so he’s offering a recipe book for sale. “I never want anyone to feel like they can’t make something at home themselves,” he says, “so we have our recipe book for sale. So if you like our menu, I’ll

Cockson and Sanders, along with the Shackelfords, wanted Drastic Measures to have a welcoming atmosphere, from intimate seating clusters to the one-of-a-kind light fixtures designed by Jake Balcom.

When YouVisit Drastic Measures

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let you purchase it. (And) in your copy, you’ll have the full rundown of everything needed and how to make it.” The space is intimate with seating areas separated with rugs, creating pockets for small groups to gather and connect. With natural light from a window, plus the custom-made lighting designed by Jake Balcom, the contrast between the walls and the lighting adds a delicate ambiance. Balcom, a metal sculptor by trade, designed and installed the sconces and light fixtures, with the chandelier a focal point as you enter. Elated with the designs Balcom created, Sanders says, “They’re all mathematical and equation- and geometric-expression inspired.” “He (Balcom) usually does large-scale installation,” Cockson says. “And he’s always inspired by the contrast between mathematical, geometrical, and organic shapes. So it provides a contrast in here between the rustic stone wall and the modern contrast of the fixtures. I think it’s a really great balance.” Drastic Measures is open Monday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. “I want people to come here for the atmosphere and the chance to connect with each other. If our cocktails come in a close second to that, we consider that a win,” Cockson says. | SHAWNEE MAGAZINE




story by Bob Luder photos by Kevin Anderson

Parks & Pools for All City aims to have green spaces near every neighborhood.




etween neighborhoods in western Shawnee stands a 40-acre plat of land covered with graded mounds of dirt and rock and bordered by waist-high prairie grass. If you gaze across the space, it’s easy to imagine children running over green fields, climbing and jumping through a new playground, frolicking in a splash pad, or exploring a nature trail. Those visions are set to become a reality when Wilder Bluff Park— Shawnee’s 30th developed public park—is dedicated and opened in the spring of 2021. “There’s currently nothing there on that side (of Kansas Highway 7),” says Neil Holman, director of Shawnee’s Parks and Recreation Department ( He was named the city’s first park superintendent in 1991. “The nearest park to that area is Garrett, and it’s 21/2 miles away. Our goal is to maintain one-third of a mile between neighborhoods and open spaces throughout the city.” Wilder Bluff will be just the latest in a vast network of Shawnee public parks that are as varied in topographies and attractions as locations. When Shawnee Parks and Rec was first formed in 1990, Holman says the city had 18 parks sitting on a total of 200 acres. Today, 34 parks, including those developed and undeveloped, occupy about 1,000 acres. Residents can turn a corner almost anywhere in the city and come across a public park. “Shawnee’s fortunate in that it has nice topography,” Holman says. “You can really let your imagination go and have some fun stuff at these parks. The (main) features are typically the playgrounds, but it’s what we can do at each park that makes it really interesting.” West Flanders Park, at 55th and Nieman, is encircled by a long path that’s popular with local neighborhood walkers. Stump Park, on the west side of town, serves as the training grounds for the second-largest youth soccer club in the Kansas City metro area—Metro United. Listowel Park, at 71st and Quivira, has the area’s only outdoor futsal (soccer on a hard surface with five players) court. Swarner Park, at 62nd and Lackman, has an outdoor skateboard facility. One can find just about anything recreational in one of Shawnee’s public parks.


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But wait … there’s more

While Shawnee certainly takes pride in its parks, the city’s recreational offerings don’t end there, especially during the hot summer months. The city also owns and operates two popular aquatics facilities—the Thomas A. Soetaert Aquatic Center and Splash Cove at the Jim Allen Aquatic Center. The Soetaert facility, constructed in 1987, was Shawnee’s original public swimming pool, and, today, it contains a competitive longand short-course swimming and diving facility, water slides, a climbing wall, floating lily pads, and a lazy river. Splash Cove, which opened in 2007, is a water park designed for younger children. “We say that Splash Cove was built for kids (ages) 9 and younger, but realistically it’s 7 and under,” says Sean Keenan, recreation specialist in aquatics. | SHAWNEE MAGAZINE


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The city recently announced both facilities will remain closed for the 2020 summer season. According to Keenan, Soetaert usually draws anywhere from 90,000 to 100,000 patrons each season, and Splash Cove attracts 30,000 annually—“and that’s just daily admission, not including swim lessons and teams,” he says. The aquatics centers employ about 150 people between the two facilities.

“Parks rate as a very high priority for quality of life in Shawnee and Johnson County.” Approximately 1,800 youngsters enroll in swim lessons with the two facilities each summer. “It’s a busy pool in the mornings,” Keenan says. Keenan also heads up the Sharks Swimming and Diving Teams, one of the largest such organizations in the Kansas City area. The Sharks begin their season the last week of May and compete through the middle or end of July. The program consists of a competitive swim team, a pre-competitive swim team, and a dive team that, last year, won the all-city diving competition. Last year, there were 276 participants in the program—85 with the dive team, 191 with the swim team. “We’re one of the last facilities in the city to have a threemeter (diving) board,” Keenan says. “We were really proud of our dive team last year. That was a big deal for us to win that (all-city title).” With such a short season of operation, Keenan says it’s important to keep the two aquatics centers busy during the summer. So, both are packed with programming that includes swim lessons for all ages, as well as aqua aerobics sessions for seniors, private parties, and civic events such as barbeque cookouts and dive-in movies. “If you have two children of various ages, you’re going to bring them here,” says Keenan, referring to the more versatile Soetaert facility.



Caenen 12400 Johnson Drive 0.4 acre

Memorial 4701 Nieman 2 acres

Charles J. Stump 4875 Woodland Drive 60 acres

Monticello Springs 7990 Monticello Road 9 acres

Civic Center Complex 13817 Johnson Drive 18 acres

Pflumm/Bichelmeyer 5920 Pflumm Road 4 acres

Clear Creek 6203 Monticello 28.8 acres

Pioneer Crossing 10401 Shawnee Mission Parkway 2.2 acres

Donald B. Gamblin Jr. 6202 Monticello 13.3 acres Douglas Highlands 6321 Switzer Lane 0.5 acre Erfurt 24255 W. 71st St. 20 acres Garrett 22325 W. 47th St. 33.5 acres Grey Oaks Clear Creek Parkway and Silverheel 40.4 acres

Quivira Glenn 13630 W. 51st St. 9.7 acres Sister Cities 5805 King St. 0.4 acre Swarner 6220 Lackman 34 acres Thomas A. Soetaert 13424 W. 61st St. 1.1 acres Water District 11720 W. 49th Terr. 1.4 acres

Gum Springs 11524 W. 67th St. 18.5 acres

Water Tower 11312 W. 70th St. 0.5 acre

Herman Laird 11600 Johnson Drive 13 acres

Wedgewood Midland & Blackfish Parkway 63.4 acres

Jaycee 6815 Quivira 1.2 acres John F. Lynch 5800 King St. 3.9 acres KCP&L 12601 W. 51st St. 10.2 acres Listowel 12003 W. 71st St. 8.4 acres

West Flanders 10920 W. 55th St. 8.7 acres Wilder 4740 Wilder 0.2 acre Veteran’s Tribute 13605 Johnson Drive 2.6 acres

Above: Members of a paddling club participate in a 5K trek around the lake at Shawnee Mission Park. At right: Splash Cove welcomes up to 30,000 visitors a year; Wilder Bluff Park in western Shawnee is in the early stages of development. Page 12: A stream makes its presence known in an area of Shawnee Mission Park.

Back to the parks

The centerpiece of the Shawnee parks system is historic Old Shawnee Town, which sits within Herman Laird Park at 11600 Johnson Drive and was developed in the late 1960s to preserve local 19th-century buildings. Old Shawnee Town is home to myriad events throughout the year, including the annual Old Shawnee Days, held in June for the last 50-plus years, and Shawnee Great Grillers, which has been held every September for the past 25 years. The facility also hosts the Friends of Shawnee Town Crafts Fair each year as well as car shows. (Old Shawnee Days 2020 was canceled; check the website,, for details for next year’s event, scheduled for June 3–6, 2021. Unfortunately, both the Shawnee Great Grills ( and the crafts fair ( have been canceled for 2020; the grilling event has been rescheduled for Sept. 24-25, 2021.) In addition to soccer, Stump Park hosts food trucks, concerts, and fireworks during the summer. Yoga is held at Erfurt Park in July. The city takes great pride in its Sister Cities program and named three parks—Sister Cities Park, Listowel Park, and Erfurt—in honor of that program. “Parks rate as a very high priority for quality of life in Shawnee and Johnson County,” says Tonya Oecuru, deputy director for Parks and Rec. “We work very hard to make sure they’re kept in good condition …. People in Shawnee love their parks, and we want to make sure we give them what they want.” | SHAWNEE MAGAZINE



story by Jackie Hostetler photo by Sarah Reeves


From Streets to Storefront Sancho StreetSide owner focuses on unique flavors.

the garden sampler tour



A water fall is just one of the features found in the Harwood Garden.


hen one thinks of Kansas City cuisine, barbecue likely comes to mind. From backyard pit masters to high-end dining, there are endless possibilities to explore. One such local possibility comes in the form of smokehouse quesadillas and smoked baha chicken tacos, just a few of the items on the menu for Sancho StreetSide, located in downtown Shawnee. Sancho StreetSide combines traditional KC barbecue with Latin street food. “We’ve brought on that whole street culture of good food, done creatively,” says owner Ryan Moody. “The base of our company is our meat, but we wanted to do something more authentic.” Moody, a graduate of the Johnson County Community College Chef Apprenticeship Program, incorporates ingredients such as mango, chili, and pineapple to achieve that authenticity. “I do lots of playing with the food. Lots of trial and error,” says Moody of the menu. “ The first couple months we were open, the menu changed almost every single event. We finally settled on some standards, all using fresh and unique ingredients.” Though delicious, the combination of barbecue and Latin isn’t the most common of food fusions. “It came from necessity,” Moody says. “When we first started, we didn’t have the ability to have our own hood system. We had to figure out a way to cook all of our proteins. We ended up repurposing some old drums and made one of our smokers and a grill, just like they do in traditional Latin street food.” Oil drums aren’t the only thing Moody has repurposed. Sancho’s has taken an interesting path to reach where it is today, one that involves a second-hand UPS truck and a renovated bank. In 2017, Moody began a small catering company, which quickly grew. With encouragement from his father, Moody soon branched out into the world of food trucks. “My dad has always pushed me very hard to go after my dreams and achieve the next thing,” says Moody. He secured a used UPS truck, transforming it into a bright purple food truck. “You have to have a truck that draws people in,” Moody says. “And then have the food that complements the truck.” Sancho StreetSide’s food truck can be found traversing the region in addition to serving Shawnee and the surrounding metro area. “We do a lot of work with the VA Hospital in Kansas City. We go down to First Fridays (in Overland Park). We’ve gone as far south as Paolo. We’ve gone as far north as Kearney (Nebraska). We’ve gone as far east as Grain Valley (Missouri). We’ve gone as far west as Topeka,” Moody says of his truck. As the popularity of the food truck grew, Moody took the next step and opened a small storefront in downtown Shawnee. “We saw how Shawnee was growing and how the downtown

was rebuilding. We really wanted to be one of the corner posts of that area. It is one of the hottest markets in Kansas City,” Moody says. Using a commissary kitchen that originally housed Kansas State Bank, he was able to take his business to the next level. Moody opened in August 2019 and has received overwhelming support from Shawnee. “Shawnee is a great community. They have done nothing but welcome us with open arms since we’ve come in down here,” Moody says. “The Chamber of Commerce has been such an asset to us. The city has helped us with a seed program, which has been amazing, as well.” Both the community of Shawnee and local organizations have been essential in Sancho’s growth. “We have a lot of customers who come in multiple times a week. A local business owner brings his family in several times a week, and we talk about how business is going with both of us. It’s good to have somebody (who’s) a local business person (who) sees the challenges and successes that come with the growth of a small business,” Moody says. Growth is something that Sancho StreetSide hopes to continue as the company looks toward the future. “As we move forward, we’d like to take over this whole space,” Moody says. “We want to develop a bar behind the old teller stations. We want to keep moving forward. We want to do events downtown with the local community and other local businesses.” One such collaboration involves two of the area’s most famous organizations, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals. “Bra Couture KC (www.bracouturekc. com) is one of the largest fundraisers for breast cancer research. People bid on a bra and a package that comes along with the bra,” Moody says. “One package includes tickets to a game inside one of the luxury boxes with pre-game Sancho StreetSide tailgate food provided by Sancho’s. 11101 Johnson Drive, Suite 110 It’s a great opportunity to help a very Shawnee, KS 66203 important cause, and working with those organizations knocks something off my list that I’ve always wanted to do.” Moody’s other goals include teaming with local breweries to bring unique Mexican beers to Sancho’s, opening a second food truck, and possibly expanding to include multiple locations. “Right now, we are happy with what we are doing, but we definitely want to grow. I don’t want to have the international chain of Sanchos, but I wouldn’t mind having two or three Sanchos in the area,” Moody says. “I want Sancho StreetSide to be synonymous with Kansas City.”



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Find a recreational outlet perfect for you and your family. Visit Stump Park with a walking trail, playground, shelters, and athletic fields. Or find your way to Mill Creek Streamway Park with its 14 miles of walking and biking trails, including the Gary L. Haller Trailer, designated a National Recreation Trail and stretching from Nelson Island on the Kansas River, crossing through Shawnee before it ends in Olathe. And don’t forget the equestrian trails at Mill Creek and Shawnee Mission Park.

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What & Where Shawnee Golf and Country Club Stump Park Mid-America West Mid-America Sports Complex Kansas City Ice Center Shawnee Mission Beach Volleyball Mill Creek Streamway Park Starwood Park Shawnee Mission Park The Theatre in the Park Tomahawk Hills Golf Course Holiday Inn Express & Suites Courtyard by Marriott Hampton Inn Comfort Inn & Suites Fairfield Inn & Suites B&B Theatres/Music Theatre Kansas City The University of Kansas Health System Park Lanes Swarner Park Veterans Park Johnson County Library Thomas A. Soetart Aquatic Center Civic Centre 22 Incredible Pizza Company 23 Caenen Castle 24 Shawnee Town 1929 Herman Laird Park 25 Splash Cove 26 City Hall 27 Downtown Shawnee 28 Overland Park Regional Medical Center - ER of Shawnee 29 Pioneer Crossing Park 30 Centra Care Urgent Care Shawnee 31 SkyZone 32 Jaycee Park 33 Listowel Park 34 Shawnee Mission Health Explore the Visitors Guide (pg. 34) for dining and retail listings.

12 Map data Š OpenStreetMap contributors, CC BY-SA,

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21


15 14


v 9




TO K-10

PLAY TIME! Visit Park Lanes for bowling and more; discover wonderful flavors and more fun at Incredible Pizza Company; or escape to SkyZone, where you’ll defy the law of gravity by soaring through the air only to make a soft landing amid a pool of foam squares, or by reaching for new heights on the trampoline court.










28 29



16 17

Explore a locally owned tree nursery and garden center in the heart of Shawnee! Stop into Family Tree Nursery and explore beautiful shrubs, flowers, trees, succulents, and more than you can imagine. Best of all, local roaster Thou Mayest has set up a shop, Café Equinox, in the nursery so you can get your caffeine fix while browsing.




VISIT DOWNTOWN Make your way to the corner of Nieman Road and Johnson Drive to experience Shawnee’s core. On your way, take a moment at any of the pocket parks along Nieman Road. Afterwards stop at Transport or Servaes breweries for a fresh, local brew or Drastic Measures for a craft cocktail. Grab tasty street tacos at Sancho Streetside or a pastry at McLain’s Market and Bakery.

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Keeping It in the Family Three generations have helmed the family-centric entertainment at Park Lanes Family Fun Center. Story by Jill Dutton | Photos by Sarah Reeves | SHAWNEE MAGAZINE


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owling has a long history as a favorite recreational activity. One of the most popular sports in the world, bowling—or at least a crude form of it—traces back as far as 3200 BC. The game has evolved since then though its popularity remains intact. It’s affordable, almost anyone can play, there’s no need to purchase a lot of equipment, and there’s a social bond that comes from playing a game together. A few hours at the bowling alley and the world feels right again. Part of the appeal is the physicality of it. It’s a way to spend a few hours with family doing something fun, while also having the chance to sit and connect. It makes sense that a family-owned business would provide this service for other families. The Park Lanes Family Fun Center has been in business since 1957, and Jason Johannes is the third generation to manage the center. Jason’s grandfather started the business—originally located in Kansas City, Kansas—with two partners. Then in 1977, they purchased a second center. In 1985, the partnership split and each family took over one of the centers. In 1999, the current Park Lanes Family Fun Center in Shawnee was built. Jason’s grandfather, Ben, passed the business to his son Robert, who then passed it to Jason. He started working at one of the centers when he was about 12 years old. Johannes is currently vice president of the company and says he took over the day-to-day management about 10 years ago. Now his children work for him. Although bowling has evolved through the years, Johannes says it’s still entertaining—family entertainment especially—and they have players from age 2 to 102. One aspect that has changed is the ratio of league bowlers to recreational bowlers. “My dad grew up with a high amount of league play. Well, in today’s world, league bowling is actually declining. I mean there are still leagues six days a week, but as far as making the time commitment that goes with league play, many don’t like to commit to a 36-week league. The days where it’s just all leagues, like it used to be back in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s even, it’s not there anymore. It used to be about 90 percent league play and 10 percent open play; now it’s just opposite at about 85 percent open play and 15 percent league play,” Johannes says. Johannes says that unlike watching a movie as a family, bowling opens up communication and interaction. Plus, the music and the upbeat atmosphere enhance an already fun activity. Special events such as Rock ‘n Bowl or Cosmic Bowling keep the sport fresh. Cosmic Bowling is a show of laser lights, disco lights, black lights, and runway lights. The music is loud, and the lanes glow in the dark during Glow Bowling events. While winters are the busiest time at the center, summers are picking up with special programs such as the ‘kids bowl free’ program where youngsters under 15 get to bowl two games every day at no charge. Birthday parties are a particular draw for younger bowlers. Park Lanes can create the perfect party, with options for bowling,

Call 913-254-1818 Call 913-254-1818 to enroll. to enroll.



food, goodie bags, and other selections. Park Lanes also hosts adult parties and corporate events. Johannes says it’s important to always keep changing and adding new activities. A few years ago, Park Lanes added a VIP room. There, parties have a private room with seven lanes—for up to 42 people to bowl. Couches and high-top tables are available, and four 150-inch projection TVs and multiple flat screens for television, DVDs, or videos provide additional entertainment options. The room, including the bar area, holds nearly 100 people for a special event. With an in-house chef, catering is available for private parties. And it’s not your typical snack foods of corn dogs and burgers (though those are available at the snack bar); catered foods are prepared to order, everything from taco bars, steak or chicken, prime rib to salmon. The snack bar menus are evolving as well. Although you’ll find plenty of the fried foods you might expect such as fried mushrooms and chicken tenders, you can also order a salad or Asian wrap. The chef is continually working to keep the menu relevant by incorporating gluten-free breads and even a cauliflower crust for the pizzas. A full bar offers traditional favorites and more, with Jack and Coke or beer as the biggest sellers. In addition to bowling, the facility provides an arcade with 36 games. Johannes says it’s a popular area: “It’s not huge, but it’s not small either.” So how has Park Lanes kept bowling fun and inviting? It’s all about the experience. Johannes says a combination of customer service, treating guests like family, cleanliness, new activities, and great food create a positive experience for guests. “The food is really good here,” he says, “especially the burgers and fries.” Looking to the future, Johannes says he adds “bigger and better” attractions every few years. He is considering adding outdoor activities such as miniature golf. “We just try to keep it fresh. You walk into the place and it doesn’t feel like it’s 21 years old. “Being a family business, you interact with other families, making them feel like they’re at home so they want to come back. With this being a third-generation business, we’ve been in business a long time—and I plan on carrying that on.”

Park Lanes Family Fun Center is chock-full of fun and games with video and carnival games (above) and with bowling lanes and concessions (page 23). There’s something for everyone! | SHAWNEE MAGAZINE


Swimmers, Take Your Marks Story by Kari Williams

The new SMSD Aquatic Center glides into Johnson County.


he sport of swimming attracts people from all walks of life. When the Shawnee Mission School District Aquatic Center opened in January, it offered district students and members of the Shawnee community, as well as visitors to the area, the opportunity to indulge in the appealing sports of swimming and diving. Jeff Stewart, executive director of the Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department, says the facility, which features two pools, will add to the “entire community,” even stretching to the Kansas City metro area. “It gives us a great opportunity to teach children how to swim, and we know that was one of the interests the school district had,” Stewart says. The aquatic center is connected to a $223 million bond issue that school district voters approved in 2015. Its completion was a partnership between the City of Lenexa, SMSD, and JCPRD. A 50-meter pool is designated for competitive swimming while a 25-yard pool is intended for “training and noncompetitive swimming,” according to the JCPRD website. The smaller pool has a floatable floor, which Stewart says is useful from a programming perspective for teaching children and people with disabilities how to swim. The floor is 7 feet deep at one end and can go to “zero-depth entry level with a push of a button,” Stewart says. The design process included input from the school district, as well as JCPRD, and Stewart says the center can go “well beyond” the needs of the school district, possibly becoming a community, regional, or national attraction. Competitive swimmers also were on the team that created the design concept, providing input regarding the pool, as well




as for changing rooms, coaches’ rooms and timing systems, according to Stewart. Derek Berg, head swimming and diving coach for Shawnee Mission High School, says the facility is impressive “from an architectural standpoint” and has a lot of deck space and a “great layout” for children to swim. “I think it’s a wonderful facility for everything that we need and that we do,” Berg says. All high schools in the district, according to Berg, have six-lane, 25-yard pools with “decent” spectator space, but those spaces are aging. He said seating was a problem for any swim events larger than a dual meet. Berg, who has been with Shawnee Mission for two years and coached at Blue Valley North High School for a decade prior, says he was surprised it took as long as it did for a facility of this nature to be built in the metro area. Something of this scope, he said, could allow for hosting events like USA Swimming meets and Master Swim championships. “I was excited to see that we were going to finally have a facility that could be in part of that conversation and could attract big meets, like the state meet, possibly,” Berg says. JCPRD also was involved before the design process and communicated with the Shawnee Mission School District about opportunities for the recreation department to operate and manage the facility. The economic impact of the center, Stewart says, is that the pool could bring in visitors from the region, as well as throughout the country, to stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, and shop in the area. “It has a very positive economic impact,” Stewart says. “[I’ve] already heard from some of the businesses.” The center has held at least 50 events since it opened at West 87th Street in Lenexa. “For the first year, it already has been a major attraction and is going very well,” Stewart says. He says he’s received positive feedback from swimmers and spectators alike. The Boys Swim and Dive Team practiced at the new aquatic center and all home meets were hosted there, along with league championships, Berg says. “It was a great facility for competition and spectators. … I think the Sunflower League Championships really showcased how good of a space it is for those big meets,” he says. That the city, school district, and JCPRD came together to offer something to the community shows the benefits of working together, Stewart says. “These public-public-public partnerships really take the resources the community has and make the most out of it.” Berg says the teams still are using the pools at the high schools because the new facility won’t handle all of them at the same time. The facility has been closed as a safety precaution amid the coronavirus pandemic and is expected to reopen in the “phase out” portion of the Johnson County Parks and Recreation District Recovery Plan. As of press time, the aquatic center remained closed.



Dive-in The 50-meter pool for competitive swimming features a 13-foot diving well and four diving boards. In addition to competitions, the 50-meter pool can be used for water polo and basketball, along with traditional swimming lessons. The 25-yard pool has an adjustable floor and is available for water aerobics, swimming lessons, and more, according to the JCPRD website. In addition to the pools themselves, the aquatic center also can seat up to 1,000 spectators and has classrooms, locker rooms, concession stands, and “a dry-land training area for athletes,” according to JCPRD.


Batter Up! Renovations promise growth for sports complex. Story by Beth Kornegay | Photos by Kevin Anderson

ohnson County Park and Recreation District’s ( JCPRD) Mid-America Sports Complex in western Shawnee is receiving some impressive updates. The six-year project began earlier this spring and includes numerous upgrades to make games safer and more enjoyable for players as well as spectators. Adult slow-pitch softball, youth fast-pitch softball, and youth baseball are all played at Mid-America. When it opened in 1991, the complex was designed for adult slow-pitch softball; it now also hosts youth baseball and fast-pitch softball teams with more than 5,000 tournament games played weekends between March 1 and the first weekend of November. In addition, more than 4,400 league games are played during the year, which involves more than 500 adult slow-pitch teams. The facility consists of ten 300-foot fields, two regulation baseball fields, and two multipurpose fields. Upgrades have already begun for this year. The original galvanized steel fencing has been replaced with new 8-foot-tall fencing with a black coating that will lengthen the life of the fence. In addition, yellow caps cover the top of the fence line for player safety and added visibility. In addition, new dugouts have been installed that are bigger, wider, and more comfortably designed to better serve tournament players. New netting installed above the dugouts extends an extra 10 feet past the existing netting to provide additional protection from foul balls. The backstops have been made taller and wider with 40-foot nets protecting spectators from foul balls. Players on other fields will appreciate the added protection as well. New foul poles have also been added to the fields. New bleachers with shade covering make viewing games more enjoyable for fans during hot summer days. Coming later this year, all new LED lights will be installed on the fields as well as in the parking lots. The new lights will be more energy efficient and will shine directly onto the field, eliminating ambient lighting that can be seen for miles. The new lights will eliminate the glare of lights from other fields that has affected players during games. Additional lighting features will be added to the walkways between fields for improved safety and visibility. Also in the plans are updates to the restrooms and concession areas, which will be rebuilt to today’s standards. Eventually, new offices will be built near the front of the complex with a proshop area for team check-in. JCPRD Sports and Facilities North manager Doug Hite says the improvements this year | SHAWNEE MAGAZINE


and going forward will create an even more welcoming environment for everyone coming to the complex and to Shawnee. “What we are so excited about is that this facility gives youth and adults the opportunity to not only enjoy the ballpark as a place for games, but also as a destination,” he says. “We want local residents and out-of-towners to have that ‘ahhhh’ feeling when they come here.” Another amenity touted by Mid-America Sports Complex is designated bullpens for pitchers. Nowhere in the metropolitan area is there another facility with a specific warm-up area for pitchers that is completely fenced in to protect them. Hite says many other area fields’ pitchers and catchers are required to warm-up in the outfield as a coach keeps an eye on the game to ensure players aren’t hit by fly balls. Hite also says 2020 will see the start of a three-year project to install artificial turf on all fields. Few facilities, he says, have artificial turf in the infield and outfield areas. This year, three fields will be upgraded and, in 2021, four additional fields will receive artificial turf. The artificial turf will be easier to maintain than grass and will offer better drainage to help eliminate rainouts and make play safer for players. In 2022, the remaining four fields will receive artificial turf. “The artificial turf gives families the opportunity to get away and travel to a tournament here in Shawnee, knowing they will get to play and not deal with rain delays like they may experience at other facilities,” Hite says. Next year, the current maintenance shed will be torn down and rebuilt elsewhere. The area will be redesigned with new amenities for players and their families including plenty of kid-friendly activities. The Mid-America West fields, located just north of the Mid-America Sports Complex, are also undergoing significant upgrades beginning this year. Those fields, which host youth baseball and softball, are 100 feet smaller than its sister facility across the street. Situated on 40 acres consisting of 12 fields, Mid-America West will see upgrades over the next six years, including new concession stands, new scoreboards, and new LED field lights. Tournament director Rich Parrett is charged with recruiting, training, and retaining the more than 150 umpires needed each year to call games at Mid-America. Those umpires are part of the United States Sports Specialty Association and umpire adult slow-pitch



softball games Sundays through Fridays, while weekends are filled with youth baseball tournaments sponsored by various leagues. Parrett has worked at Mid-America Sports Complex since it opened and was one of the first employees at work before the concrete was even dry. “It’s a great complex and it just continues to get better,” says Parrett. “The upgrades are really taking it to another level and making tournaments more enjoyable for everyone.” No admission is charged for league games played during the week. Since outside baseball organizations rent the facility for weekend tournament play, entry fees may be charged by those organizations to help cover their expenses. Johnson County resident Beth Pamperin is a selfproclaimed advocate for local parks and has visited Mid-America Sports Complex many times over the past several years to watch her 14-year-old son, Benjamin, play in tournaments. She is excited about the enhancements at the complex and thrilled to hear about the new safety features, especially the additional safety netting. “It is such a beautiful ballpark, and the upgrades are going to make it even more enjoyable for me as a spectator as well as being safer for Benjamin and his teammates during tournaments,” she says. “The added shade to the bleachers is a huge bonus and will make it more enjoyable to watch games on those hot 100-degree days. I also love the idea of adding an area for younger kids to burn off energy between games. My 3-year old daughter, Grace, will definitely take advantage of that!” Check Before You In 1994, JCPRD purchased Leave Home the complex and now receives some taxpayer funding for For information on game improvements. Mid-America times and coronavirus Sports Complex is enterprise precautions, or for canceled funded, meaning the fees paid games and closings, go to by the players and teams are expected to cover the operating costs of the facility. The fencing project for both Mid-America and Mid-America West totaled $4 million, which is coming out of JCPRD’s capital improvement fund. A total of $45 million is designated for the six-year improvement projects for both facilities and will also come out of that fund.

Promoting Fun Midwest Sports Productions is dedicated to creating fun family experiences that last a lifetime. While specializing in youth baseball, the organization acknowledges that winning is only half of what they do. The other half? Having fun and making memories for players and spectators. The owners recognized Shawnee as a centralized area for youth sports, and after opening offices at 21967 West 83rd Street in 2007, they quickly began making an impact on youngsters who love playing ball. The company is now the largest organizer and promoter of youth baseball and fast-pitch softball tournaments in the country. Tournaments focus on having fun rather than on winning at all costs. The first tournaments of the year are held inside in January and run through November. More than 150 tournaments are held each year, and those tournaments take place throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area as well as in nine states. Roughly 9,000 teams compete in those tournaments. “Midwest Sports Productions strives to make an impact, not just in our community, but in society as well,” says Jeremy McDowell, owner and CEO. “We want to show people we genuinely care.” To add to the fun for everyone involved, each tournament has a different theme. The most popular tournament is the Hawaiian Hitfest, which brings in more than 750 teams to the Kansas City area. It is touted as the largest baseball tournament in the world. Teams are encouraged to design special theme-related jerseys, decorate their dugouts, and participate in social media contests and a spirit contest. One of the company’s foundational pillars is ‘we grow to give’ to help young athletes be part of something bigger than just the game. The annual Alex Gordon Classic event raises money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a charity founded in remembrance of Alex Scott, who lived in Connecticut and suffered from neuroblastoma. Alex’s parents started the organization in 2005, and it raises funds around the United States to support pediatric cancer research. The top fundraising teams meet with Alex Gordon (the KC Royals’ left fielder), receive tickets to an upcoming Royals game, and help present the check to Gordon during pre-game festivities. Last year, Midwest Sports Productions helped raise $42,764 for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Another tournament, the Top Gun Invitational, hosts more than 250 elite level fast-pitch teams from around the country and supports Fold of Honor, an organization designed to provide educational scholarships for spouses and children of U.S. fallen and disabled service members. “Being servant leaders, bringing people together, inspiring future generations, lifting up those around us, growing to give, and leading with love and grace are what defines our company. We believe that if we More Information can pass these values along to the people we interact with, then we can Go to the website, make significant change,”, for McDowell says. events, cancellations, and

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Visitors Guide Shawnee








11119 Johnson Drive (913) 207-4148 Facebook: AztecShawnee Recently renovated, the theater offers a single screen and a seating capacity of 250. It originally opened in 1927 as the Mission Theater, and plans include showing classic films, holding film festivals and holiday specials, and providing an event space for the community.


Johnson Drive and Cody Street, Herman Laird Park The statue welcomes visitors to Shawnee Town 1929 and depicts Charles Bluejacket, a Shawnee Indian chief and Methodist minister from the 19th century.


10910 Johnson Drive (913) 631-1900


(May–October) 11110 Johnson Drive, City Hall (913) 248-2360

SHANANIGANNS BOUTIQUE 11006 Johnson Drive (913) 549-8793 Facebook: shananiganns


11501 W. 57th St. (913) 248-2360 Shawnee Town 1929 is an outdoor museum depicting a farm town community in the 1920s.


5707 Nieman Road Chris Fangro built the Wells Fargo House in 1824. It was heavily damaged during Quantrill’s Raid in 1862. After restoration it was a Wells Fargo Express Office on government trails.

16301 Midland Drive (913) 954-4671 / movie line (913) 341-8156 / Music Theatre KC

BY B! BOUTIQUE 6314 Monrovia (913) 213-5255


(913) 745-5380

FAMILY TREE NURSERY 7036 Nieman Road (913) 631-6121


13500 Johnson Drive Designed by Maurice D. McMullen, the 20-foot statue is a tribute to all military veterans of the United States.


12045 Johnson Drive (913) 915-8200

EAT & DRINK SHAWNEE Downtown Shawnee AUNT JEAN’S CUP & CONE 11210 Johnson Drive (816) 668-3731


11121 Johnson Drive (913) 701-6342

BIG BAM’S BURGERS 5930 Nieman Road (913) 962-1230


MCLAIN’S MARKET 5833 Nieman Road

OLD SHAWNEE PIZZA 6000 Rogers Drive (913) 631-5716



10509 Shawnee Mission Parkway (913) 631-2226 Facebook: nigroskc

PINK CHARMING BOUTIQUE 22736 Midland Drive (816) 844-8154

PIONEER CROSSING STATUE Shawnee Mission Parkway at Melrose Lane Statue by artist Charles Goslin celebrates the pioneers who traveled through and settled Shawnee in the 1800s.


6495 Quivira Road (913) 213-5900 11405 Johnson Drive (816) 844-9154



10919 Johnson Drive




11101 Johnson Drive (913) 251-6814

SERVAES BREWING CO. 10921 Johnson Drive


6010 Nieman Road (913) 322-8888

TRANSPORT BREWERY 11113 Johnson Drive (913) 766-6673


10816 Shawnee Mission Parkway


7174 Renner Road (913) 248-9378 Facebook: barwestkc


16649 Midland Drive (913) 268-5160


6493 Quivira Road (913) 962-7447


12276 Shawnee Mission Parkway (913) 912-7350


13214 W. 62nd Terrace (913) 268-4227


7166 Renner Road (913) 268-1668

COUNTRY CLUB CAFE 21911 W. 66th St. (913) 441-2444


7036 Nieman Road (913) 631-6121


6453 Quivira Road (913) 962-5014


7182 Renner Road (913) 631-4400


6487 Quivira Road (913) 709-8324 Facebook: EspressoYourselfToday1

FIREHOUSE SUBS 6415 Quivira Road (913) 631-0033

FRITZ’S RAILROAD RESTAURANT 13803 W. 63rd St. (913) 375-1000


15810 Shawnee Mission Parkway (913) 268-8668

V I S I T O R S HEREFORD HOUSE SHAWNEE 17244 Midland Drive (913) 268-8000


12001 Johnson Drive (913) 962-5253


13131 Shawnee Mission Parkway (913) 962-5777

JOSE PEPPER’S BORDER GRILL & CANTINA 16605 Midland Drive (913) 631-1011


5386 Roberts St. (913) 441-5682 Facebook: knubspub


11330 Shawnee Mission Parkway (913) 268-3354


7198 Renner Road (913) 631-0059


22220 Midland Drive (913) 914-8535

PATHLIGHT BREWING 11200 W. 75th St, (913) 400-2615



10810 W. 75th St. (913) 270-9999


13655 W. 63rd St. (913) 268-9999

SOMBRERO’S MEXICAN CANTINA 22702 Midland Drive (913) 441-6700


22716 Midland Drive (913) 667-3000


22030 W. 66th St. (913) 441-0444

TANNER’S BAR & GRILL 22374 W. 66th St. (913) 745-8100

THE OTHER PLACE SHAWNEE 22730 Midland Drive Shawnee, KS 66226 (913) 441-0094


10218 Johnson Drive Merriam, KS 66203 (913) 262-3023




15100 W. 67th St., Suite 202 (913) 631-6545


15100 W. 67th St., Suite 202 (913) 631-6545

SHAWNEE MAGAZINE (888) 497-8668



11245 Shawnee Mission Parkway (913) 268-4455




16510 Midland Drive (913) 962-5555

9100 W. 74th St. (913) 676-2000


11110 Johnson Drive (913) 631-2500

CITY OF SHAWNEE PARKS & RECREATION DEPARTMENT 13817 Johnson Drive (913) 631-5200


6501 Quivira Road (913) 631-1080 (nonemergency number)


5850 Renner Road (913) 631-2150 (nonemergency number)

ST. LUKES COMMUNITY HOSPITAL 14950 W. 67th St. (913) 323-5125

COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT 17250 Midland Drive (913) 631-8800





7474 Nieman Road (913) 962-6361

RV Parks


7170 Renner Road (913) 631-7023


10915 Shawnee Mission Parkway (913) 268-9545

17346 Midland Drive (913) 400-2509

10310 W. 63rd St. (913) 227-8400 emergency-care


5354 Roberts St. (West Location) (913) 422-3600



16501 Midland Drive (913) 962-9900 11005 Johnson Drive (East Location) (913) 962-6700


16550 Midland Drive (888) 236-2427 16555 Midland Drive (913) 248-1900 | SHAWNEE MAGAZINE










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