Just months after expanding to Downtown Kansas City, the Strang Chef Collectives’ next location for a chef-driven food hall will be tailored to fit its new home on the Country Club Plaza, said Shawn Craft.
The hall’s four new food and beverage concepts — slated to open in late May or early June — will be designed inside the Cascade Hotel, Kansas City, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, also servicing the adjacent Aloft Hotel by Marriot, both of which are managed by Overland Park-based Capital Management, Inc.
“So really from the inception of our organization, the Plaza has been on our radar as a market that we wanted to be in,” noted Craft, CEO of Strang Chef Collectives. “We think the opportunity to bring chef-driven concepts — and more than one of them — to the Plaza would benefit not only the consumer but also our organization as we go to scale.”
Strang Chef Collectives, he continued, looked at multiple properties and opportunities on the Plaza over the course of the past few years.
“When we started having conversations with the Capital Management team, we just found a lot of synergy with their group,” he said. “Our goals and expectations for the space were closely aligned and we felt like it was a slam dunk from our lens to partner with them on this project.”
The Plaza location will be the third, following the original Strang Hall in downtown Overland Park’s Edison District and Strang Chef Collective at lightwell — which opened in the lower level of the downtown building in December.
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The new chef collective — which will be open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night eats — is expected to span 11,000 square feet over two floors and include outdoor dining space and two full-service bars, plus provide room service, catering, and a coffee bar to the hotels.
The main difference for the Plaza location: the hours, Craft said.
“I imagine us expanding our hours — versus how we operate in both locations — in different ways to meet the needs of the consumers,” he explained. “I mean that from a lens of Strang Hall typically isn’t open for breakfast and doesn’t have a huge late-night crowd, where we anticipate that we will have both opportunities on the Plaza. So we will adjust our business hours to meet the needs of the consumer and the guests of both the Aloft and Cascade hotels alike.”
Despite the expanded hours, he continued, the overall experience will be the same.
“We put our chefs out front,” he noted. “We want our chefs engaging with consumers. We want you to be able to walk up and have an approachable, authentic menu in front of you and be able to have a conversation with the chef. We often see guests engage with our chefs and they’re sampling certain sauces or things that they’re trying out for that week. And that’s the type of experience that we want to create — not only this location — but all of our future locations.”
Five yet-to-be-named chefs are expected to be hired for the Plaza location, Craft said. Although there will just be four chef-driven concepts, the fifth chef will be available to help with catering and special events. As part of the Strang Chef Collectives’ mission, all the chefs will be local.
“Our goal is to find local chefs that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity that we’re providing for them,” he said. “Our — what I would call marriage — is different with the chefs than most people that operate in this space and we view it truly as a partnership where we help them succeed as business owners. Our desire is that — as we scale, both in Kansas City and out of market — to really tap into local, authentic chefs.”
Chris Curtis, director of sales and marketing at Capital Management, said it was important for their company to find the right food partner for these one-of-a-kind boutique hotels.
“Boutique hotels really delineate themselves by the offerings of local purveyors,” he continued. “(Our out-of-town guests) are getting those things that are local to Kansas City and very unique and special and that’s what it brings to the table for us. For our guests that are traveling in, they’re already traveling to a really, really special destination in Kansas City being on the Plaza, but now they’re able to really connect with this special chef collective that you can’t really get anywhere else and that’s amazing to us.”
Although the restaurant concepts will be in the Cascade Hotel, Craft said, entrances will be accessible from the street and the lobby.
“We want to be proud partners not only to the hotel and their guests and viewed as a great amenity for them but also provide a great service and experience to the communities that we’re doing business in,” he added. “So we’re excited.”