The Made In KC Trolley in River Market — a full service cafe within a vintage, refurbished Kansas City streetcar — is winding down its run this weekend; next aboard the repurposed artifact of local history: Donutology.
After being approached by Made In KC about the opportunity, Donutology will take over the trolley cafe July 17 and begin the rebranding process, said founder and owner Andrew Cameron, noting he hopes to open in early August.
The donut shop plans to serve its signature mini donuts — which will be cooked on site — plus its full donut and espresso bar lineup.
“We’re actually super excited about (the trolley location) because it’s unique,” Cameron explained. “We tend to go for more classic, historical places. For instance, we’re only the second business ever in our existing building that was built in the 1940s. And then with the trolley being from a similar time period, we thought that was really cool and unique, which kind of fits our brand, as well.”
Donutology opened its first location in the West Plaza neighborhood — 1009 Westport Road — in 2016. Cameron noted that River Market is an appealing location because there are no dedicated donut shops north of 31st Street like in downtown or their new neighborhood.
“That’s such a vibrant area,” he added. “They’ve got the KC Current stadium going in. There’s all sorts of construction of new buildings. We just felt like it was a really exciting place in Kansas City to be, which is one of the reasons we initially sought out where we were in the West Plaza area, as well.”
With Made in KC’s lease ending — and its leaders feeling like they’ve accomplished what they wanted with the unique space — now is the right time to pass it on, said Keith Bradley, co-owner of Made in KC.
The Kansas City-focused retailer’s last day for the River Market trolley cafe is set for July 16.
“We’re really excited for Donutology to have another location,” he said. “We’re excited for them to continue on the legacy that we kind of started at the trolley with serving great coffee, both as a neighborhood amenity but also a destination for out of town guests and people visiting the farmers market down there. So we could not be more pleased with them coming in behind us and with the transition. They’re gonna do a great job.”
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Made In KC — which often sells Donutology donuts in its cafes and helped to launch the Donutology DIY Donut kits in its shops — opened the trolley cafe in the fall of 2020 after being approached by the owner, said Bradley, noting they jumped through more hoops than ever before for the River Market project.
“It’s such a unique space to operate in and no one had ever done anything like in Kansas City before,” he explained. “The city didn’t know how to define us. Different city departments didn’t know how to define us. The health department surely didn’t know what to do with us. But we’re really proud of the fact that we’re able to work with all those entities to bring something that we think has great value to the River Market neighborhood and that’s definitely unique in Kansas City — and probably a lot of other cities, as well.”
When it came to advising the owner of the trolley on a new tenant, Bradley shared, Donutology came to mind as perfect for the space.
“(Donutology) is a similar enough user,” he continued. “If you liked going down to the trolley for your regular cup of coffee or you liked having a coffee shop in the neighborhood, it checks that box. They’re gonna serve great coffee like they always have been doing, but then they also add a different hook, which is freshly made donuts. They really lean into themes and events and activations and partnerships and all the things that we’re about. They just take it to the next level and put it on a donut. And it’s really exciting to see the growth they’ve had over the last few years.”
“We’re just really excited to do this and kind of extend and take our partnership with Made In KC to the next level,” Cameron added. “While we are the sole occupants, we anticipate all sorts of collaborations with them going forward, as well.”
The closing of the trolley cafe for Made in KC — which just launched work on a new neighborhood shop in downtown Overland Park — dovetails with the direction the business has been taking over the past year, Bradley explained, which is a focus on their beginnings in 2015.
“What you’re seeing is our trajectory back to the core of our business and how we started,” he added, “which is the neighborhood shops making shopping local convenient, celebrating all things Kansas City through local goods, and making sure that as many parts of the metro are served.”