J. W. Putsch

Author: 
Mostly after our time period

Initially, Justus W. Putsch didn’t want to go into the restaurant business. Yet, for over 30 years, the Putsch name was synonymous in Kansas City with both gourmet food and cafeteria-style dining.

Jud Putsch was born in Marshall, Missouri, where his parents operated a confectionery. The family moved to Kansas City in 1924 and opened the Bluebird Cafeteria at Troost Avenue and Linwood Boulevard. While he was a student at Westport High School, Putsch worked at the Bluebird and developed a distaste for the restaurant business.

Putsch graduated from the University of Missouri and earned a master’s degree from Harvard Business School in 1931. He joined the executive-training program at R. H. Macy & Co. in New York, set on a career in merchandising. He spent the next nine years working for a Macy affiliate in New Jersey, steadily working his way up the corporate ladder.

Putsch returned to Kansas City in 1940, after his mother suddenly died and his father became ill. He and his wife, Virginia, ran the Bluebird Cafeteria together for two years until Putsch went into the Navy during World War II. Virginia kept the Bluebird going until the couple sold it in 1944.

The Putsches returned to the restaurant business in 1947 when they opened Putsch’s 210, on the Country Club Plaza. Featuring continental cuisine, elegant decor, and a string trio, Putsch’s 210 was the premiere restaurant in Kansas City in the 1950s and 1960s, in fact, one of the best restaurants in the country west of the Mississippi. The Putsches opened two more restaurants on the Plaza in the 1950s—Putsch’s Cafeteria and the Coffee Shop.

Each successfully catered to a different style of dining, a rare achievement in the restaurant business. Putsch later opened the first sidewalk café on the Plaza.

In 1971, the Putsches sold their restaurants, which then numbered about a dozen, to the Montgomery Ward Company. Virginia Putsch died the following year. By the time Jud Putsch died in 1991, all but one of the restaurants had been closed or changed names. The last of the Putsch restaurants closed in the early 1990s.

Primary Sources: 
Acknowledgement: 
KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY | DIGITAL HISTORY
Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict,1855-1865.
The Pendergast Years, Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression.
KC History, Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Kansas City Public Library.