Calaveras, a day-of-the-dead themed Mexican restaurant, is one of the new businesses contributing to the revitalization of downtown Lee’s Summit. The restaurant opened its doors to the public on November 9 but has been nearly three years in the making.
Owners and restaurateurs Jeff, Josh, and Lanni Edwards had already established the neighboring gastropub, Smoke Brewing Company, and bought the Calaveras space in November 2019. The coronavirus pandemic started a few months later which meant a long pause on the construction project, which involved gutting a century-old building.
According to Lanni Edwards, when you have three years to mull over the details, little goes left unchecked. “With the time frame that we had, I can’t tell you how many books we have all read on the seven regions of Mexico, authentic flavors, spices, peppers,” she says.
Josh Laufketter, the previous sous chef at the shuttered Bluestem, is the executive chef of Calaveras and has integrated his fine-dining experience into an entirely from-scratch Mexican menu.
Entrees include a pork green chili topped with a glazed pork belly and a red pozole with mahi but are offered alongside more familiar items such as carnitas al pastor tacos, deconstructed nachos, and elotes. A kid’s menu is also available. A full bar adorning a quartzite countertop serves craft cocktails, wines and beer.
The family-owned restaurant is decked out with skulls, crystal chandeliers, and mixed metals. “Think 1920s New York but very glam and sexy,” says Lanni Edwards. Her background as an interior designer left no detail overlooked—even the bathrooms are decorated with black beveled oversized subway tiles and velour black wallpaper. As far as lighting, there is a specific setting designated each time of day and weather.