Serial entrepreneur Tim Barton is bringing his “chef collective” concept from downtown Overland Park to the heart of KCMO, the founder of Edison District announced Thursday, teasing the first details of a new development at the in-progress Lightwell building.
“It’ll be a 13,500 square-foot food hall with five chef concepts,” Barton, whose Johnson County Strang Hall project serves as the template for the project at Lightwell, said from the stage Thursday at STARTLAND’s Innovation Exchange.
Click here for more on the Innovation Exchange event, which explored Ecosystem Building in the 2020s. STARTLAND, formerly the Kansas City Startup Foundation, is the parent organization of Startland News.
Click here to read more about the Lightwell project.
Described as a “magnet” within such mixed-use developments as Lightwell, the food hall concept helps developers bring “energy and life” to contemporary building projects that combine business and lifestyle trends, Barton said. Additionally, a sports books amenity — mimicking similar facilities in Las Vegas but without illegal betting — is expected to be incorporated into the concept as it develops.
Strang Hall is a casual, modern space within Barton’s Edison District project that is designed as a launching point for food entrepreneurs to showcase their skills and provide true authentic chef-driven experiences.” Boasting six chefs and food concepts, the 13,000 square-foot Strang Hall opened in late 2019 and has doubled the number of truly chef-driven, locally sourced restaurants in Johnson County, Barton touted.
The name of the new “chef collective” project at Lightwell, along with a timeline for its completion, were not immediately announced by Barton Thursday, but construction on the project is already in the works as a full remodel of the Lightwell building continues.
The former CEO of Freightquote, who saw a $365 million exit for the company in 2014 before launching Edison Factory and such ventures as Edison Spaces, Edison District and Menlo Food Labs, said the concept is not expected to stop with downtown Kansas City. The serial entrepreneur works to scale the Strang Hall model into new markets.
“We have pitches with developers around the country who want authentic restaurants, but they can’t handle the risk of, ‘Well, maybe this guy’s gonna flame out,’” Barton said of the role he plays in the concept — which sees a central entrepreneur, like himself, taking responsibility for the facility and leasing space to chefs on a short-term basis.
“Chefs are really great at being chefs, but they’re not great business people,” he said of risks for restauranteurs.
“We’ve built a development company around solving [access to risk-free restaurant space] where we own the business and the back office, so the real estate folks don’t feel worried about signing contracts,” he explained, noting most bankers are at ease doing business with a serial entrepreneur — especially one who’s sold a company for more than $300 million, joked Darcy Howe, managing director of KCRise Fund and moderator of a discussion on ecosystem building Thursday that featured Barton.
Click here to read more about Tim Barton’s philosophy on business and work ethic.