Here’s a roundup of some of the most exciting openings in KC’s food and drink scene plus a sad closure of one of the city’s best coffee shops.
Downtown Misson already had an impressive collection of bars, from the sours of Sandhills Brewing to the homey (membership-required) Keyhole Tavern. Now, it’s got a serious cocktail bar, The Primrose, at 5622 Johnson Drive.
Primrose is owned by Abby Hans, whose brother Mason Hans owns the board game store on the same block. The Primrose menu is ambitious for a suburban spot—the signature cocktail is gin-based and includes eggwhite and rosemary. “We really wanted to differentiate ourselves from other bars in the area, and crafting unique cocktails seemed like a good way to do that,” says Abby Hans. “When people come to The Primrose, they are usually looking to try something out of their comfort zone. So people have responded really well to our unique cocktail menu! Although, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to the classics. If someone comes in asking for a fireball shot, we can probably make arrangements.”
The space itself is cozy, with the former Brian’s Bakery & Eatery being transformed into a lounge with lots of wood and rich detail.
“Redesigning the space has been my favorite part of the process,” Hans says. “The dark, moody color palette in The Primrose really sets the tone. The couches and chairs create a ‘home away from home’ feeling, but still add some elegance to the room. Lighting is also important, we keep the lights dim and candles lit at every table. We keep the curtains shut to create a speakeasy vibe as well.”
KC is the first American city to get a European-style social game spot.
BRKTHROUGH has taken over the former Stein Mart at 135th and Metcalf in south Overland Park (6403 W. 135th St. Suite E4, Overland Park). The massive 22,000-square-foot space is now home to forty different game rooms.
The natural touchpoint for the concept is escape rooms, but BRKTHROUGH’s games are more like what you’ll see on The Cube TV show ghosted by Dwayne Wade or like the challenges in Japanese game shows. “I think we’re an escape room turned-up,” says Ty Hardamon, BRKTHROUGH’s managing partner.
In one room, players have to cling to walls with climbing holds and a sensor will end the game if someone touches the floor. Another is like an elaborate game of pop-a-shot with the hoops hanging in odd places and lights telling players which hoop to aim for. Another is a puzzle inside a miniature art gallery with players trying to solve a riddle. Each game takes between three and five minutes with teams buzzing themselves in through an RFID bracelet that tracks their scores.
“Instead of doing Monopoly on Saturday nights, come here—have a drink, have some food, compete against each other,” says Hardamon. “Try to get as many points as possible, send that to your friends, talk some trash.”
In between games, players can chill in the BRK Room, a self-pour bar space at the center of the action—there are twenty taps pouring wine and beer, all priced by the ounce. That means not only can you sample various offerings, but you can also get a short pour between games without worrying about leaving your drink unattended.
BRKTHROUGH space is oriented toward adults and can handle up to four hundred people at a time. Players buy either two or four hours of gameplay. Owners Braden Holcomb and Caroline Irving, who moved to KC to open a trampoline park, got an exclusive license on the software that drives the gameplay from the European company that makes it and if all goes well you could see BRKTHROUGHs popping up in other cities, much as happened with KC-based Chicken N Pickle.
“Basically what we’ve tried to do is scour the earth to find what people like and what people like and don’t like,” says Hardamon. “People for whatever reason love escape rooms but those have limitations.”
Westport now has a Korean restaurant specializing in street food and house-brewed soju. Chingu comes from the team behind the Sura Eats window at the Parlor food hall in the Crossroads.
Back in May, chef and co-owner Keeyoung Kim told us that this standalone spot was his vision from the start. In mid-November, Chingu finally opened at 4117 Pennsylvania Avenue.
“We’re having a lot of fun putting some twists to classics—instead of serving steams/boiled/fried dumplings with sauce, we wanted to offer a different approach to enjoying so we made Mandu Bokkeum, homemade pork dumplings stir-fried with veggies in a gochujang sauce,” Kim says. “Also our jjajang tteokboki is a fun take on the popular street food—instead of using a gochujang-based sauce, we’re using a fermented black bean sauce. Our fried chicken is also really great. Double fried and some tasty sauces to go with it!”
The most unique part of the concept is the soju program. The distilled spirit, which is similar to vodka, is made off-site for the restaurant and to its specifications. “We have also been able to try multiple recipes for our soju and have landed on a recipe that we love,” Kim says.
Kansas City lost one of its best coffee shops with the closure of Monarch on Broadway at the end of October. Back in the early months of 2020, we invited a Beard Award-winning coffee critic to town who raved that Monarch “is one of the very best coffee bar companies in the United States in 2020, offering a delicately balanced, exacting expression of modern coffee culture that manages to be both accessible and progressive at the same time.
Owners Tyler and Jaime Rovenstine posted a statement to Instagram saying that it was time to move on and that they will be focused on online coffee sales. The former Monarch at 3550 Broadway is now Post Coffee Co. Post is based in Lee’s Summit and also has a minimalist vibe and roasts its own beans.