The Food Issue

Anton’s Taproom grows its own ingredients in the restaurant’s basement

Updated: 2013-03-17T14:21:55Z

By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA

The Kansas City Star

The basement of Anton’s Taproom is a laboratory for local food production.

A matrix of pots of fresh herbs are vertically tiered across one wall under grow lights. Six hundred tilapia swim in a 1,000-gallon tank, destined to become fish tacos. Tendrils of Malabar spinach are trellised up the walls above the tank.

“I’ve always had a green thumb,” says owner Anton Kotar, a general contractor who grows orchids and other tropical plants for fun.

When the spring comes, Kotar plans to plant peach and pear trees as well as strawberry plants and blueberry bushes along the back fence of the property line, using nutrient-rich fish waste to fertilize them.

In a basement cooler, locally raised, grass-fed Black Angus sides dry-age for 28 days. The steaks are hand-cut and sold by the ounce in the dining room or from the restaurant’s retail meat case.

Kotar is considering buying his own cattle to supply the restaurant. In the meantime, he is working with ranchers to develop natural feeds designed to alter beef’s flavor and fat content.

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