In an era of online ordering, curbside delivery and quick departures, Made in KC’s latest concept — a breezy beach café in Leawood — envisions an oasis where Kansas Citians swing by, but stay, for local coffee, natural wines, hard-to-find tropical cocktails, and vegan sandwiches from Mattie’s.
“We’re not quite a full-on restaurant experience with this concept, but we do want you to hang out,” Keith Bradley, co-owner of Made in KC, said of the new Outta The Blue Café. “Given the beauty and size of the space with these great windows, as well as the Park Place shopping center outside, it really lends itself to staying for a while versus pulling your car in, grabbing something and immediately leaving.
“We really want to play into people’s desire for community and to socialize.”
Outta The Blue set sail Wednesday with its official grand opening getaway planned for June 19.
Click here to explore Outta The Blue Café’s menu.
“Our biggest undertaking were the swings and the king palms that we have in the space to really make it feel different, but not too overwhelming or kitschy — and a place you’d want to come to every day,” said Bradley.
Made in KC, a retail curator of Kansas City-made goods, now operates 11 retail stores and cafes — some with Made in KC branding, like the neighborhood shops and marketplaces; others with more unique, niche feels, like Outta The Blue and the mountain-themed Front Range Coffeehouse & Provisions in Fairway.
“We’re calling it a sister store: Outta The Blue by Made in KC,” Bradley detailed. “The biggest element of local is within our coffee program [coordinated by Marcell Coffee], which you also see reflected in all our Made in KC cafes. Our pastry, our grab-and-go options — all of that is heavily local as well. These are areas where we can really rely on the Kansas City creative community, as well as the infrastructure we’ve already built with other cafes, to give us a leg up.”
Click here to read more about Mattie’s Foods and the sisters behind the vegan food trendsetter.
Along with light table-side service, Outta The Blue is expected to cater to later-in-the-day customers with its emphasis on tropical drinks and wines, he said.
“This is one of the first concepts we’ve built with the evening crowd in mind,” Bradley said. “And with the successful restaurants in this area and the programming from Park Place, this is one of the first shopping centers in the metro to bring back live social events in a safe way. So we’re hoping to see just as much traffic, if not more, in the evenings than just the everyday morning coffee crowd.”
“It’s worth noting that one of the best parts is our wine list, which is super approachable but totally different from what can be found in south KC,” added Tyler Enders, co-owner of Made in KC. “Adam Pfeifer is running our wine program, which features lots of natural wines, skin contact wines, biodynamic wines, canned wines, kegged wines, and more.
“It should be a great introduction to different wines from aficionados to novices.”
Nearly a year in the making, bringing Outta The Blue to Park Place comes as the result of a mix of Made in KC’s success across the metro, changing trends related to the pandemic, and shifts in brick-and-mortar and shopping center usage, Bradley said.
Suddenly a lot of doors — and interesting spaces — are open to the retailer.
“Some of them really pique our interest,” he said, turning his attention to the cafe around him. “This place is awesome with these cool, tall windows on a corner; Those elements really get the wheels turning when someone throws out an idea. That’s when you start thinking … ‘Well, what if we brought in palm trees?’”
And months later, a handful of full-sized indoor palm trees from San Diego provide an eye-catching first impression of the space.
“We thought once they got here, we could easily move them into the space,” Bradley recalled with a smile. “It was five guys in the back of a truck, trying to get as close to the door as possible, shimmying in, then getting a forklift and straps to lower them — it was an intense process, but they’re the perfect size for the space.”
“The palm trees and the swings were the two elements of the space we’re most proud of, but not surprisingly, the hardest to execute,” he added, crediting a small in-house team of builders who helped make the floor-to-ceiling swings a reality.
Despite the setting, Bradley, Enders and co-owner Thomas McIntyre aren’t content to put up their own feet and relax in the little oasis, Bradley said.
“This place looks really good right now, but it’s going to look even better in a year,” he said. “It’s what happened at Front Range and at Plaza marketplace. We’re constantly tweaking and making improvements. Sometimes we’re trying to get open with the idea that ‘done is better than perfect’ and we make sure it becomes perfect along the way. We never just set it and forget it.”