Bob Regnier shares his love of Kansas City, Johnson County and everything in between over salad and pie.
Story by Kimberly Stern | Photos by Steve Puppe
When it comes to community spirit, Bob Regnier, Chairman & CEO of Blue Valley Ban Corp and Bank of Blue Valley, is an open book, readily sharing his affection for his hometown.
Having lived in Johnson County virtually his entire life—for more than 60 years—the banker and esteemed businessman is recognized for his avid and enthusiastic support of everything from education to the arts to philanthropic organizations, on both sides of the state line. And a good rib-sticking breakfast.
“That’s my favorite meal of the day for conducting business,” Regnier says over the shrimp spring rolls during lunch at Prairiefire’s Newport Grill. “You get a lot done. I’m always in search of great breakfast places.”
One of Regnier’s favorite spots is First Watch, where he traditionally orders the Bacado omelet. A close second is Jerry’s, the tiny old-fashioned café next to Jasper’s Restaurant in the Watts Mill Shopping Center that packs the tables every morning with diners eager to consume pancakes and other hearty dishes.
Katie Van Luchene and I have settled into one of the comfortable green velvet banquettes to lunch with Regnier at Newport Grill, located in the bustling mixed-use Prairiefire development that several years ago was a vast field and one of Johnson County’s prime commercial real estate parcels. Regnier’s late father, home builder and developer Victor has often been credited for helping jumpstart Johnson County in the 1950s and early 60s as one of the country’s most desirable suburbs.
“You know, my biggest surprise about Johnson County’s growth over the decades is that it didn’t happen faster,” Regnier says, looking out the window facing 135th Street and Nall. “But just look at it today—Prairiefire is a good example of how the area just continues to expand.”Regnier, who started Bank of Blue Valley in 1989, is married to Ann; the couple raised three children, including two sons and a daughter, in Leawood. Today the Regniers have the joy of doting on seven grandkids and looking forward to family reunions.
“It’s just cool to spend time around our kids and the little ones,” he says. “We all enjoy being together.”
Stories are a part of Regnier’s lively repertoire—understandably, after serving on countless boards, foundations and committees and attending galas and events across the metro, he knows an impressive number of people. One of those is Gary Morsch, the physician who founded the global humanitarian organization Heart to Heart International.
“He’s a remarkable man, doing remarkable things,” Regnier says. “Our community is full of generous, compassionate, supportive people. We’re all lucky to be in such a community where leaders are motivated by priorities such as education, the arts, faith, philanthropy, as well as the physical infrastructure we require in our daily lives.”
Regnier’s success has contributed to the improvement of that infrastructure over the years. He started Bank of Blue Valley, opening near 119th Street and Metcalf Avenue; today it has grown to five locations with 160 employees. His first client is still a customer and Regnier continually marvels at the innovation and determination of the hundreds of entrepreneurs he’s worked with over the years.
“If you want to be optimistic about the future, talk to a passionate, committed entrepreneur,” Regnier says.
Shoptalk momentarily pauses as Regnier ponders dessert choices presented by the server: cheesecake, flourless chocolate torte, brown butter cake, a miniature pie trio.
“Ice cream is my weakness,” he says, choosing the pies. As the pies (and three forks) arrive, Regnier stops mid-story to sample.
“Sweet,” he closes his eyes and smiles before resuming conversation about his love of the community and the people who drive it.
Main Course: Q&A with Bob Regnier
• What’s the best advice you’ve given your children?
“Show up, work hard and give it 100 percent … not sometimes, but always.”
• What’s your specialty when it comes to cooking?
“I grill—Ann cooks. But I do brats and a mean flank steak.”
• What’s the best part of your life, right now?
“My seven grandkids—all under the age of seven.”
• What hashtag best defines your life?
“#Do the next right thing.”