A taste of England is now in the Northland.
Toby Corder, a native of Hampstead, opened the White Horse Cafe in Parkville earlier this year and is giving locals a chance to sample traditional British food, as well as some menu items that are original to him.
The Lake Waukomis resident has been in the food industry for nearly 30 years, which started as a server at a restaurant in North Carolina.
He grew up in the London suburb the son of a television producer and an actress. His father was an actor before moving behind the camera and was actually in the same graduating class with Peter O’Toole — who often visited the family. Corder’s mother was a soap opera actress and as a child, Toby appeared on stage in plays and there is a photo at the White Horse Cafe showing him acting.
Corder first came to the United States in 1985 to work for a summer camp in North Carolina, where he met his wife, Mary, who was also working at the camp. Corder was working at a Montessori school in England when he was recruited to work in a camp that featured an international staff.
He came back three years in a row working for the camp and the couple dated during that time. He changed his immigration status from having a work visa to staying here permanently when the couple wed in 1988.
His first non-camp counselor job came in Florence, S.C. in a restaurant as a server. He catered a Christmas party and that led to his first job in a kitchen. He then worked in various corporate restaurants, Waffle House and TGI Fridays. In 2003, he became a franchisee of five Waffle House restaurants in Kansas City, Kan. It was a chance to move closer to home for his wife, who was born in that town.
Corder ran the franchises for nine years, before leaving in 2012. The next year, September 2013, he opened the White Horse Pub in Kansas City North, off N. Oak Trafficway. That business will celebrate its five-year anniversary next month and they are bringing in a whole pig to roast and pulled pork sandwiches will be served.
The White Horse Pub is ran by his daughter, Katie. The Corders have three children, all in the Kansas City area. Sarah does acupuncture in Gladstone, while Toby, Jr. is a heavy diesel mechanic in Blue Springs. Toby Jr. is getting married on Nov. 3, the third wedding for the siblings this year.
Corder opened the Parkville location in January at 6325 S. Lewis Street, a location of a restaurant that was named the Rusty Horse, ironically. He came to the area to go to Nick and Jake’s, but it was closed that day. He strolled around and found the Rusty Horse, which had just closed.
That got his mind racing and then the White Horse Cafe was in the works. The business is open for breakfast and lunch — a little different than the White Horse Pub that is open for lunch and dinner.
The Parkville location is open from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. six days a week – closed on Mondays. While Toby helps run the restaurant, his wife has her artwork in the lobby.
Some menu items include traditional British items bangers and mash and fish and chips. There is also the full monty breakfast — with eggs, muffins, baked beans, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms – and sticky toffee pudding that has ties to his roots.
Other popular items include sandwiches — Cuban and rueben — and burgers. A unique item is the country pig, an invention by Corder that features three pancakes, with pulled pork between them, with an egg, covered in gravy and a side of maple syrup. The pulled pork is South Carolina style, which is a mustard base. Corder noted the family spent nine years in the Carolinas — all three of the kids were born in either North or South Carolina — and there are plenty of Kansas City barbecue restaurants out there.
Corder uses a handful of local businesses for product. Scimeca’s Famous Sausage Company creates the bangers from Corder’s recipe, while Paradise Meat Locker in Trimble provides the British bacon – cut from the loin instead of the back like traditional American bacon. They have alcohol from Boulevard, KC Bier, Co., J.D. Strong Distilling Vodka, Cinder Block Brewery.
The restaurant held a watch party for the Royal Wedding — opening at 4:30 a.m. that day — and had plenty of guests coming in for the World Cup.
Corder is bringing in events at night at the Parkville location, by reservation only.
The most recent was one with Boulevard Beer, which was a four-course menu paired with beers from the Kansas City brewery.
This Saturday, Aug. 17, he is hosting a Taste of the Caribbean, with a Jamaican themed buffet and a steel drum player performing. The event opens at 6 p.m. and food will be served from 7 to 9:30 p.m. There are currently more than 40 people signed up for an event that can take 65 reservations. If you are interested, you can call the restaurant at 599-4474 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are plans for one event each month at night. In September, there will be a three-piece jazz band performing and New Orleans food will be served. In October, German food will be served, along with Polka music. In November, a Frank Sinatra impersonator will perform, and Italian food will be served.
The restaurant is also available for graduation parties, rehearsal dinners and corporate parties at night and the business will provide a buffet, as well as the bar.
Corder, who turned 57 on Friday, Aug. 10, hopes to have a few events per month at the Parkville location in the future. Both locations have its own Facebook page, which keeps followers informed of events.