Espresso bar & eatery, macaroons, Oddly Correct Coffee Co., handcrafted soda bar, sno-cones
Once inside Little Freshie, a cozy hub of energy and eclecticism, it is difficult to imagine it as a hardware store lined with shelves stocked full of bolts and screws and tools. Like many businesses in Kansas City, Mo.’s Westside neighborhood, Little Freshie is a small space. Rather than claustrophobic, the high ornate ceiling, low long bar, and intimate seating make for a warm and welcoming spot that lures you in. Besides, what Little Freshie lacks in size is ameliorated by huge flavor. A taste of nearly anything the menu offers leaves you eager to try it all. Do be careful, won’t you?
A self-proclaimed soda fountain and espresso bar, the baristas at Little Freshie serve up mouth-watering, made-from-scratch neon macaroons or classic scones paired with Kansas City’s own Oddly Correct coffee – from toddy (a cold water brewed method) to affogato, a scoop of vanilla ice cream poured over with a hot shot of espresso. If that doesn’t excite you, then try the all-natural handcrafted sodas in unconventional flavors like blackberry lavender, spicy ginger fizz and strawberry rhubarb.
Before we get into Little Freshie’s drool-inducing lunch options, let us peer into its past. The old hardware store stands today as Little Freshie at 17th and Summit Streets, in the heart of the Westside, a charming character in the rich tale of the neighborhood’s history. The area once again shines with self-made, ambitious proprietors involved in both business and community as it once did in the early 20th century when the streets were lined with businesses such as the former Stern & Co., selling women’s and men’s dress and furnishings. The picturesque neighborhood, founded in the late 1800s by William Mulkey (a horse and Indian trader who bought up much of the Westside and sold it off piece by piece), has been a place of continuous ambition, collaboration and kinship.
An unfortunate collapse of half of the previously-a-hardware-store-now-Little-Freshie’s roof left it dilapidated, though the old embellished ceiling at the fore of the structure remains intact. Some major repairs and renovations later, owner Lindsay Laricks fused old and new to create one of the most pleasant places for coffee (or soda…or baked goods… or a prosciutto manchego sandwich on a pretzel bun… Wait! We’ll get to that in a moment!) in Kansas City.
Laricks’ business (then called Fresher Than Fresh) kicked off in a sno-cone trailer, where she sold all-natural scones, sno-cones, and popsicles along Kansas City’s streets. Positive reception in the community moved future Little Freshie to a permanent location, though they still have the original sno-cone trailer. A new name and an expanded menu increased loyalty—just ask any die-hard sipper of the Westside-renowned Spicy Ginger Cider, who swears the drink is the only true conqueror of the common cold.
Whatever your reason for popping into Little Freshie, your senses will certainly appreciate it. The heady aroma is alluring enough, but the small shop envelops its patrons in coziness. While en queue, gaze up at the baroque tiles in admiration, check yo’ hot self out in the enormous mirror running along the side wall or browse the assortment of local and quirky goods for sale. Perhaps you’ll pick up a jar of natural peanut butter, sales of which support the local Boys Grow organization, with a mission of “providing inner-city youth the means to grow into community leaders.” Or might I recommend the spicy Mexican-style chocolate bars? YUM.Try and save it though, if you can, for after your meal of prosciutto and manchego with stone-ground mustard and arugula atop a farm-to-market pretzel bun, or a tuna and white bean sandwich garnished with garlic, shallots, fresh herbs and greens on a rustic potato bun. Post up on a stool at the bar, people-watch through the large front windows and soak up the unique atmosphere, both nostalgic and… Freshie fresh.