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Backyard Burger closes in Independence, prepares for final week in Blue Springs

Owner Gene Scassellati has run the business for 27 years. He says it is time to retire.
Backyard Burger closes in Blue Springs, Independence
Posted at 6:58 AM, May 10, 2024

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — For 27 years, Gene Scassellati has run his Backyard Burger restaurants out of Eastern Jackson County. But it is time for him to close the drive-thru.

Scassellati opened the first location in Blue Springs after visiting a Kansas franchise. Reflecting, he said he wasn’t sure how it would take off.

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“I remember in this restaurant, opening week, we had training and stuff but we probably didn't know everything we needed to know to be running a Backyard Burger at the time. I remember the lines out all the way to Duncan to try to get into the restaurant. And I realized then that we were going to do okay,” said Scassellati.

He did more than okay. A few years later he would open his second location, this time in Independence. That store closed on May 3 as he heads into retirement, leaving Scassellati to say some final goodbyes. But they went out with a bang.

“Our business over doubled. And it was humbling. I mean, I did not expect it. I thought we would be busy. But not anything like that,” said Scassellati.

Outside of his loyal customer base built up of many regulars, Scassellati credits his success to his loyal employees. He said some have worked with him since that first year, recognizing that it isn’t common to have a restaurant staff stay on for 10 to almost 30 years.

Danielle Vasquez started at the Independence location nine years ago. She is finishing out for the Blue Springs location’s final week.

Vasquez recalled when she first heard the news.

“Oh my gosh…I bawled. I’m not gonna lie I bawled. It wasn’t really shocking but it kind of was still. I knew the moment was going to come but when it hits it hits,” said Vasquez.

That time has hit for Scassellati. His family has helped him in the store, like his wife and children. So many locals can claim that their first job was working for Scassellati. He also dedicated time to Blue Springs and Independence, giving back to schools and charities.

Now, 27 years later, he is still surprised by the communities he loves.

“You don't realize that people care that much to take it, so it was it was amazing. You just go about your business and you do your job and work and serve food and you don't think people notice? But they did. So it was wonderful,” said Scassellati.

The Blue Springs location closes on May 15.