Food with a Story.

Award-winning Kansas City restaurant consistently masters the fine dining experience

What makes a good story? Some might say a captivating beginning, strong middle, and thought-provoking ending. Add a few awards into the mix, and that is what makes a great story. These ingredients and more are why Prairie Village’s Story restaurant is consistently voted one of the greatest fine dining experiences in the Kansas City Metro. 

Captivating beginning. Started by husband/wife team Chef Carl and Susan Thorne-Thomsen in May 2011, Story was founded on three basic beliefs, the first being inspiration motivated by ingredients. 

“I try to source ingredients carefully, locally when I can, but whether local or not, I always try to find the best, freshest, most interesting,” Carl said. “Inevitably, the more time I spend looking for and learning about ingredients, the more I wind up knowing about them.” 

The history behind these ingredients sparks the imagination of Chef Thorne-Thomsen in the creation of the dishes prepared at Story. On each table are contents derived from the second belief.

“The name also refers to the ‘story’ behind any given dish on the menu, why certain items are paired or not, where the idea came from or how it evolved,” Carl said. 

This same curiosity is how Carl discovered his affection for cooking years ago. Before they were married, his wife Susan owned a gourmet food store in Wichita, where he would shop for specialty ingredients on his self-taught cooking journey. When the store expanded to a café, Thorne-Thomsen applied to be its chef and was hired for his first professional cooking job. 

Packing up their experience, the couple moved to Kansas City where Carl began working in fine dining with a dream in his back pocket. 

“He always wanted to open his own restaurant,” Susan added. “Carl had been cooking professionally in the Kansas City area at some of the best restaurants for eight years and was ready to go out on his own. It was a big undertaking, especially with three young children.” 

Strong middle. Choosing The Village Shops as their restaurant’s location, Carl and Susan hit the ground running and made an early mark in Kansas City’s fine dining scene. Just like any new business, the first few years were full of hard work and time investment. But to Chef Thorne-Thomsen's credit, he did not allow his family to fall through the cracks. 

"My fondest memory of the early days was when our kids...would come in and 'help' in the kitchen," Susan said. "Carl would give them oversized chef's jackets to wear and have them do small food preparation tasks."

The grind, in the beginning, paid off for the couple. In their first four years, Carl was nominated as a James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef Midwest and named The People’s Best New Chef by Food and Wine Magazine. Story’s wine list has also been recognized with Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence for the last eight years. 

“It is so rewarding to be recognized locally and nationally," Carl said. 

Thought-provoking ending. After 12 years of operation, the Thorne-Thomsens have not let off the gas. Voted once again as a James Beard semifinalist and as Best Fine Dining Experience in Johnson County in 2022, Story’s third belief – the experience is a story – is proving true for its diners. 

“Is it a special occasion, an anniversary or birthday? Is it friends in town, a first date? Sometimes, if the food, service and atmosphere are good, then the experience itself is the story," Carl added. 

The ending to this story is nowhere in sight. Another chapter is currently being written, but some things are better left for the sequel. 

“We are excited to announce Carl’s involvement in a cooking show,” Susan said. “The details can’t be revealed just yet.”   

For now, the Thorne-Thomsens are soaking in their success, living out their dreams every day and frequenting the Overland Park Farmers' Market for those fresh, local ingredients. 

“We are just thankful to be part of such a wonderful community,” Susan said. “We have so many regular guests, hardworking staff and excellent suppliers that help make Story a success and allow Carl to do what he loves.”

“We are just so thankful to be part of such a wonderful community. We have so many regular guests, hardworking staff and excellent suppliers that help make Story a success." 

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