Mild summer temperatures have fed Strang Hall’s bottom line, said Tim Barton, even as a persistent pandemic keeps the downtown Overland Park food hall hungry for its full potential.
“Having the outdoor space and the roll-up garage door bar area has been very good for us,” said Tim Barton, the serial entrepreneur and mind behind the chef collective concept at Strang Hall. “We’ve been trying to send out the message that, as far as dining-out places go, this project was designed with a lot of outdoor space to begin with. It wasn’t just adapted for COVID. So it — coupled with the perfect weather — certainly hits the mark right now.”
Strang Hall, which debuted in December, iterated quickly from the outset of the COVID-19 shutdown this spring. After a weeklong hiatus in late March, the food hall returned with one of the metro’s first curbside dining options featuring multiple restaurateurs — now ranging from Southeast Asian and tacos to craft pizza and seasonally fresh options.
Click here to read more about the innovation behind Strang Hall.
When the weather improved, it reopened 13,500 square feet of safe dining space — capitalizing on outdoor room for eating, socializing and recreation, Barton said, specifically noting Kansas Common Consumption Area rules that allow diners more mobility.
“To be able to have a drink, go outside and walk around where you want, within boundaries … It just feels so open,” he said. “Personally, sitting at a table for long hours doesn’t appeal to me. Being able to get up and talk to other people, walk about and socialize — it gives you the feeling that you actually want to be there.”
And that’s a rarity during the pandemic, Barton said, as people are now rarely stopping — always in transition to the next safe setting.
Click here to check out the kitchens and menus available at Strang Hall.
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You had us at brunch 😋Take a look at some of our incredible brunch specials today👇come and get ‘em before they’re sold out! See you at 11! // @solsticestrang // 🧇🍑 Sweet Stone Fruit Weekly Waffle // peach-nectarine-cherry compote, honeyed farmer cheese + balsamic reduction 🍳🍅 Smoked Veggie & Gouda Market Omelet // aged gouda, local mushroom, smoked tomato, spinach + herbs 🥚🥦🧀 Broccoli Cheddar Quiche // kansas white cheddar, grilled broccoli, bacon, caramelized onion, broccoli slaw 🥓 Candied Bacon // smokey chipotle brown sugar rub, sweet chili honey drizzle + chive // @fenixkansascity // 🍽 Biscuits and Gravy // homemade hatch chile biscuits, bacon + chorizo gravy, pepper jam + two medium eggs 🔥 Hawt Chicken + Biscuits // fried chicken, homemade hatch chile biscuits, bacon + chorizo gravy, two medium eggs, pepper jam (known to be the best meal ever had!)
The food hall is just one key piece of Barton’s still-developing Edison District walkable community, which includes office space, retail, an events plaza and ample parking adjacent to the downtown area’s burgeoning residential scene.
Tenant inquiries for new offices have slowed, but continue to trickle in, said Barton, who also co-founded the related Edison Spaces flexible office concept with Matt Druten.
Click here to learn about Edison Spaces addition to the Johnson County office scene.
“The interest has been coming from companies that are appreciative of the fact that it’s in Kansas, and in a walkable, live-work area, which was the original idea, of course,” he said. “If not for COVID, we’d be tracking a lot of interest. But even the semi-frequent interest we’ve seen is a positive. It’s validating.”
Barton and his business partners are taking a longer view, he said, not dwelling on the challenges and setbacks of the day.
“We’re anticipating that things will get better,” Barton said. “We still plan to build out our Edison Spaces model in the Edison District building. We’re intentionally pushing the start of that construction off a few months. It’ll be nice to see some positive data at some point, but assuming the data gets even incrementally better or slightly improved over time, we would begin construction in the fall and expect to deliver those spaces in April.”
The prominent entrepreneur and former CEO of Freightquote — who saw a $365 million exit for the company in 2014 before launching Edison Factory and other ventures — splits time between Kansas City and Austin.
“You can see a subtle difference,” Barton said, contrasting the two communities. “In Kansas City, people are trying to find normalcy. Certainly everyone here is fully aware of the risks of spreading the virus, but in Austin it’s way more heightened. You look at the downtown, the streets, and literally it’s a ghost town. No cars on the road during the day. It’s frightening to think about how hard it’s locked down. It’s not required any more. It’s just kind of self-imposed.”
And while Kansas City’s response hasn’t been as extreme, the pandemic-prompted changes to how people work — notably eschewing office space in lieu of remote setups and other behavior that limits in-person trips to brick-and-mortar locations — have dramatically impacted entrepreneurs across the spectrum, Barton said.
“The true tech-centric businesses — depending on their focus — are in a position to survive, but retailers and other industries obviously don’t have the ability to thrive in that kind of environment,” he said, showcasing insight gained not only as an investor, but through ventures ranging from real estate to restaurants.
“We’re just trying to get incrementally better every week,” Barton continued. “We watch the data and it’s improving, but it’s slight. So you really have to look further down the road and say, ‘OK. We know where we need to go; now how are we going to get there?’”
Click here to read about Tim Barton’s philosophy on a “work ethic to believe in.”