What’s new in Kansas City food and drink in November 2020
Brookside’s Michael Forbes Grill is best known for strip steaks and salmon, but it’s pivoted during the pandemic and now offers carryout Mexican food from a “ghost kitchen.” The concept is called Macho Taco and has its own website. The Macho menu includes items like steak tacos, chimichurri wings, queso dip and a fried chicken tender salad. Owner Forbes Cross told the Star that his grill’s business is down fifty percent during the pandemic and “we already had a lot of good Mexican items on our menu so we expanded it.” Ghost kitchens have been one of the big trends of the pandemic, sometimes in odd ways, as hard-hit eateries like Chuck E. Cheese offer takeout as “Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings.”
Westport is now home to a new location of a bubble tea shop that the Washington Post has called “the Starbucks of bubble tea.” Taiwanese-style Kung Fu Tea was born in Queens a decade ago and had another location in Overland Park before opening in late October next to Sonic Drive-In and Westport Flea Market. Like the Bux, Kung Fu’s is known for its seasonal PSL and drinks that feature decadent blends of sugar and cream.
KC’s newest jazz bar is slated to open on November 5 in one of the city’s finest hotels. Local jazz legend Lonnie McFadden is not only on the marquee at Lonnie’s Reno Club inside the Ambassador Hotel but he’ll also be on stage with a quartet three nights a week. The new jazz club is named for a long-gone venue where Count Basie made his name and where radio broadcasts first brought Kansas City-style jazz to the world.
One of the city’s best-loved brunch spots has closed after forty years, but the battle over the space may just be beginning. Westport’s Corner Restaurant closed in March because of the pandemic, and Dawn Slaughter, owner for the past nine years, decided to use the time to clean and make repairs. According to a social media post, Slaughter is battling her landlord after discovering that the condition of the restaurant’s hood was “alarming” and the exterior of the building also needed work. “We supplied the owners of the building with a fifteen-page detailed report of the inspectors’ findings,” Slaughter wrote. “The truth is that these owners should have never rented this space to us in the first space.” The matter is now in mediation.
If you’ve played too much Topgolf, there’s a new local alternative in the Northland. The new T-Shotz offers cozy heated bays with food and drink service—in this case, a raw bar stocked with chilled oysters, plus the expected pizza, burgers and wings—but has a different version of competitive driving range games. Golfers can virtually play famous courses from around the world from the comfort of the bays at the Metro-North Crossing space.
It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has left lots of people out of work, especially in the service industry. When it comes to restaurant and bar employees leaving the industry, Kansas City is faring better than most large cities, according to data kept by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In KCMO, eighty-two percent of restaurant employees remain in the industry. Across the state, St. Louis has the same number, while Denver is one point higher at eighty-three percent. On the coasts, though, the numbers are more grim. In Boston, only sixty-four percent of food and drink industry workers remain in the field while Miami and Portland, Oregon, are around seventy percent. The New York area is only at fifty-nine percent, meaning four in ten jobs in the nation’s largest restaurant scene are now expected to be gone for good.