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Meet the vendor: Joe's Cellar

Meet the vendor: Joe's Cellar
Posted on 09/18/2018
Ann Scida’s paternal grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Calabria, Italy, in the early 1900s, settling in Pennsylvania. Calabria is located in the “toe” of Italy’s boot-shaped peninsula. The food there is neither Sicilian or Tuscan — it’s Calabrian. It’s spicier then other regions of Italy and, in Ann’s opinion, the best.

Ann grew up in a two-kitchen home. In fact, her dad says that two kitchens is the key to a happy marriage. Ann’s British mother, Kay, cooked upstairs while her Italian father, Joe, cooked old-world dishes from the Calabrian region in the cellar kitchen. It was a place where he cured meats, canned his vegetables and sauce, and shared a glass of wine and plate of "cellar food" with anyone who cared to join him. Years later, Ann would carry on that tradition by opening a small Italian restaurant of her own.

Joe always maintained a large garden, which he continues to grow in Pennsylvania today. Ann explains that not only was the Italian food always great in their home, there was always a great produce too. Joe makes pickled vegetables and purée from the garden. As a kid, when Ann and her brothers wanted a snack, they were told to go pick something from the garden. 

Ann identifies as a bit of a gypsy. She went to college in Buffalo, New York, but found the weather too cold. She went to visit a friend in Arizona and decided to stay for 10 years. Twenty years ago, she visited another friend in Kansas City, and the area reminded her much of her small hometown in Pennsylvania, so she stayed. 

Today, Ann and her partner, Brandy, own and operate a restaurant called Joe’s Cellar. Joe’s Cellar was born out of Ann’s love for her Italian food heritage and making food for her friends. Those friends kept urging Ann to open a restaurant. She started out by using the restaurant kitchen of friends to make pickled vegetables and pasta sauce to sell online. The urge to open a restaurant was always near. When a small kitchen space opened up in Mission Road Antique Mall a year and a half ago, it was a perfect opportunity to get her feet wet and start “restaurant college,” as Ann calls it. She offers lunch service Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Ann’s food at Joe’s Cellar is cooked with heart and steeped in family traditions. She believes in small amounts of high-quality ingredients. Ann says we pile many things on a sandwich when all you need is a good-quality salami or prosciutto, a little arugula and olive oil. She recently returned from Italy visiting Lake Como, Venice, Florence, Palazzola  and Rome, and the food was amazing. She would like to make focaccia sandwiches like she had in Italy. 

Earlier this year, the owners of Mission Road Antique Mall announced they would be closing at the end of the year. Ann is currently looking for a location where she can move her restaurant. She has narrowed the options to a few spots, so stay tuned for an update. After the move, she plans to expand her menu to offer dinner with homemade pastas and sauces.

In the meantime, she remains open at the antique mall, operates a booth on Saturdays at the Farmers Market and is teaching occasional cooking classes at the Lenexa Public Market. And if that isn’t enough to keep Ann busy, she is also the drummer for a local all-female band called Holmes Street. 

Stop by the market on Saturdays to meet Ann and try some of her baby leek dip, pickled peppers, candied jalapeños and smoked pepperoni.