While entertainer Lonnie McFadden raised spirits through trumpet and tap dance, the owners of the new Repeal 18th Bar & Bistro beamed as they showed off their menu of “elevated bar food” and a smoke box for infusing craft cocktails.
Edward Collins raised his family in the Northland. His son, Phillip Collins, and daughter, Ann Cook, worked with him in building Burlington Mattress Co. from its first shop in North Kansas City to a large chain with 36 locations.
Now they are partners in Repeal 18th at 1825 Burlington St., just across the street from the original Burlington Mattress store. Johnny’s Back Yard had formerly occupied the spot.
But when building out the bar and food menu, Collins said, “I hire people who are smarter than me, and I get out of the way.”
That includes executive chef Bryan Sparks, who had previously been with Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, Kusshi, Rye, Komatsu and most recently the Jayhawk Club in Lawrence.
His menu offers “shareables” including pork belly nachos and truffle Parmesan fries. Customers also can select from a variety of small plates — fish tacos, chicken wings with whipped blue cheese and barbecue sauce, scallop ceviche, monkfish corndogs, steakburger sliders, sweetbreads and more — one for $6, three for $15 and five for $22.
The menu also includes grilled Caesar salad, entrees such as Southern scallops and smoked chicken, pork belly BELT sandwiches and several flatbreads from potato bacon to grilled summer fruit. The menu will be updated seasonally with new items debuting in late September.
“Three things you know and are comfortable with and one thing you don’t, to kind of expand on your culinary palate,” Collins said. “But even the comfort food you are used to will have a new twist, and that twist will expand your culinary palate.”
Bar manager Darrell Loo, formerly with Blvd Tavern in the Crossroads and Julep Cocktail Club in Westport, put together the bar menu, which includes seasonal cocktails such as the Smoking Hog (using J. Rieger & Co’s Caffe Amaro and then placed in a smoke box with applewood chips) and the Summer in NKC (with Restless Spirits’ Builders Botanical Gin, strawberry, lemon and sparkling wine). It also has wines by the glass and by the bottle and will offer customers private whiskey lockers starting by mid-August.
“We have 280 bottles of whiskey, and the number is still growing,” Loo said. But he also raved about the cucumber-infused Branca Menta created by his friend and local bartender Dominic Petrucci.
Edward Collins spent 20 years with the Kansas City Fire Department and retired as battalion chief in 2005. He recently retired as CEO of Burlington Mattress but would often walk over from his office to meet friends and family at the firefighter/sports bar hangout, Johnny’s Back Yard.
Johnny’s had bright butterscotch-colored walls, football helmets hanging from the upstairs railing and faded newspaper articles about the KCMO fire department as decor. It had operated in the spot for more than five years but closed in March when its lease was not renewed.
Collins had long liked the space for its “great bones” — the steel work on the mezzanine, the patio area.
“And the developing community around it. A lot of people say this is the new Crossroads, but I say this is the new North Kansas City,” he said.
Repeal 18th has a Prohibition-themed industrial decor and a mezzanine seating 25 people that overlooks the main dining area, which seats 60. It also has a covered patio with garage doors that open in nicer weather. The mezzanine has its own bar so it can be booked for private events.
Repeal 18th has live entertainment Wednesdays through Saturdays nights and Sunday afternoons.
The family recently sold majority ownership in the mattress company to an international mattress manufacturer, but they still maintain 49 percent interest. After growing it to 36 locations, they now hope to also expand with Repeal 18th, probably two more in the metro before expanding outside the area.
“Everything else around us is craft beer, and we went in with craft cocktails,” Edward Collins said. “So we’ll look for other underserved markets with typical bar food. Then the Repeal chefs in each location will pick the menu for that community.”