Editor’s note: The following is part of Startland News’ ongoing coverage of the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Kansas City’s entrepreneur community, as well as how innovation is helping to drive a new normal in the ecosystem. Click here to follow related stories as they develop.
Rachel Kennedy hopes to celebrate the Iron District restauranteurs who survive the COVID-19 shutdown with a grand reopening party for the world — but first they must make it to the other side, she said.
“There’s so many obstacles that come from running a food truck, but … this is like the mother of all obstacles,” said Kennedy, co-developer of the Iron District, a North Kansas City space that combines food, drink, art and other vendors in an outdoor experience comprised of open-air and shipping containers. “Maybe in the early summer we’ll have a better idea if this has peaked and we kind of have the ‘all-clear’ from our city leaders, and we can start getting back out there and supporting everyone.”
Click here to learn more about some of the art featured at the Iron District.
It’s a waiting game, she said, lamenting the impact of KCMO and the State of Missouri’s Stay At Home orders. The Iron District was set to reopen for the season this spring, but that plan — along with the public debut of new food concepts — has largely gone cold (though some restaurants are offering hot to-go options).
“This makes for a lot of shuffling around for most vendors, and we’re still kind of in that period of just trying to figure out what we’re going to do,” said Kennedy, who also owns The Plantain District, a business that began as a food truck and found its footing as a shipping container eatery.
In the meantime, Iron District supporters looking to tide the vendors over through the coming weeks or months may purchase up-front packages as part of a new Container Club Membership program, said Kennedy, noting the benefits include free meals and drinks, deals on merchandise, as well as admission to various VIP events once the arena reopens.
“It’s the theory that people can purchase tickets now for a discounted price to generate some immediate income for the vendors,” she said. “Then, there’s a party at the end of all this to celebrate everyone obviously coming back out from their respective homes.”
Click here to learn more about the options offered by the Container Club Memberships.
The idea aims to steer clear of distracting from other efforts to support local small businesses suffering amid COVID-19, she added.
“I hope people can see the other side of this and see who they’re trying to support now because we know there’s quite a few GoFundMes or gift certificates, and a lot of nonprofits that are in direct need of funds,” Kennedy said. “We just wanted to make sure we didn’t muddy those waters because obviously everyone has different needs.”
In recent weeks, some Iron District vendors have turned to curbside take-out to retain customers, though the owners still remain very much in limbo, she said.
“We will probably re-evaluate in 30 days and just kind of see what everything looks like,” Kennedy said.
Click here to learn more about Iron District.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.
For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn