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Local Flavor

The Exchange in Parkville brings locally made goods to the Northland

It was supposed to be a bistro--a place where you could grab a glass of wine, lounge at a sidewalk table, and maybe bring home supper. But when you're trying to start a restaurant during a pandemic, sometimes you have to get creative. That's what Andrew Dessert and partner-in-crime and fiance Reid Harrison are doing. 

The Exchange, located at 110 Main Street in Parkville, is part mercantile, part gourmet grocery, and one hundred percent labor of love. It opened in late December and has already found a loyal following. 

Dessert knows a thing or two about the food world. He grew up in the Leavenworth area but left to go to culinary school. After graduating and completing an internship in San Diego, he started looking for restaurant jobs in Southern California. 

"I couldn't find a job anywhere. No one was hiring. So I sent out my resume to about a dozen places in Kansas City. Within five minutes, I got responses from Alex Pope (of Local Pig), John Cedric Smith, and a few others. Alex Pope told me that if I could be in Kansas City for an interview in four days, I was hired. I went to the working interview, got the job, and I haven't left yet," says Dessert. 

He has honed his skills across a variety of restaurants, including Local Pig, Brewery Imperial, Room 39, and Whole Foods. In the process, he met Richard Kasyjaski, owner of The Craic on Main and co-owner of Brewery Imperial, who convinced him that a bistro was exactly what Parkville needed. 

Now Dessert and Harrison are excited to offer products that they've come to love to area residents, supporting local farmers and producers as many of their restaurant clients are struggling. 

In addition to shelf-stable items like the wildly popular KC Canning Co. line of pickles, jams, shrubs, and body products from Messner Bee Farms and Bear Soap Company, Dessert is carrying local produce when it's in season. He's currently carrying produce from an Amish farm in northern Missouri, overflow from a local restauranteur named Adam Jones. He'll offer space for local tomatoes, greens, root vegetables, and whatever else flourishes in the spring. 

With a background in working with brewers at Brewery Imperial, Dessert is also bringing in as many breweries and distilleries as he can. He plans to carry local wine at some point in the future. 

Of course, Dessert and Harrison also hope that the coronavirus pandemic doesn't last forever. When people are comfortable eating out again, they will be ready. 

"When we designed the inside, we put in a bar that seats about eight people. And then the idea was to have about three, maybe five little two-top tables. We have a little section on our front step for tables. But I would like to get some tables in here and kind of push the retail out a little bit and introduce that café aspect with hot food to go or to enjoy here with a drink," says Dessert. 

Right now, Dessert is bringing in specialty items from local chefs all the time. Recent offerings included mini-quiches from local pastry chef Jessica Riek of Jax Fish House and take and bake lasagna. 

Dessert says that he enjoys the small-town feeling of Parkville and can't wait to become a meeting spot for locals, offering good food and drinks to good people. In the meantime, he's happy to give them the ingredients for good times wherever you are. 

Find the latest offerings from The Exchange on Facebook. 

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