The oldest continually operating restaurant in Johnson County was originally inspired by Frank Sinatra’s Villa Capri

Photo by Sofia Tewell

Steve’s Villa Capri celebrated its sixty-one-year anniversary in February. Steve’s father and uncle came up with the idea from the Villa Capri in California owned by Frank Sinatra. They decided to bring one back to Kansas City in 1961. The restaurant was first opened as Tony’s Villa Capri, named after his father. Steve grew up working in the restaurant as a busboy from the age of twelve until he was old enough to take over, eventually adding his name to the front of the restaurant to make it his own. 

“We are the oldest continually operating restaurant in Overland Park and Johnson County. It’s a title we love to have,” says owner Steve Scudiero.

“When we started in 1961, we served a variety of foods, steaks, chicken, BBQ, hamburgers, and pizza, of course. There were a few other pizza places around in the early 60’s so our customers had already developed a taste for pizza.”

As the years went by, Villa Capri began to focus on strictly Italian items. “Our specialty has always been Naples-style pizza, where we use a combination of mozzarella and provolone cheese, thin crust, along with our sauce that we’ve used for over sixty years. We’ve really not changed our pizza recipe in all that time”.

The most important thing to Steve about running his restaurant is making sure his customers are happy.          

“Everything I put in front of you I’ve eaten and enjoyed myself,” he says. 

The pandemic has made business extra difficult, particularly obtaining product and finding employees who are willing to do the hard work. 

Steve has made small yet effective changes to make most of his meals vegan-friendly, offering more options for more people to eat. Despite the challenges, he is always looking for opportunities to make his customers happier. 

He fondly recollects when a couple sat down at his restaurant and the man said, “In 1965, this is where I took my wife on our first date.” It’s moments like these that are most meaningful to Steve. 

“Back when we opened people were just flocking in, but now we really have to work to get them in here. Even though I do have my regulars, it’s not like it was 60 years ago. When I can make people’s tummies happy, it makes me happy—and it’s been an adventure that I wouldn’t change for the world.”

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