Westport shifts toward craft food and drink establishments

02/03/2014 4:10 PM

02/04/2014 7:37 AM

Westport’s newest evolution is leaning to the craft food and drink side, and less to the nightclubs.

The latest example involves Westport’s Beaumont Club, which will be broken up into new venues.

A group of local investors plan to open Char Bar Smoked Meats Amusements in part of the space this fall.

“We are passionate about great food and craft beer so it is to take those concepts and build off of it,” said James Westphal, a partner in the new Char Bar LLC. “The ‘amusements’ is to make sure people have fun while they are there, whether it’s watching a game or playing Foosball. We want to play on the amusement theme throughout the concept.”

Char Bar will have a varied menu from smoked meats to vegetarian items, and a focus on American craft beer. The outdoor area will be converted into Kansas City’s “largest and best beer garden” with dining area, croquet court, ping-pong and more, Westphal said.

Partner Mitch Benjamin of the Meat Mitch barbecue sauce brand will provide the barbecue expertise and the menu will incorporate his sauces.

Westphal and Mark Kelpe first opened McCoy's Public House in Westport in 1997. Later they added The Foundry and Beer Kitchen to their Westport lineup.

“We are big believers in Westport and are very excited to add another restaurant concept to Kansas City's best neighborhood,” Westphal said. “We have seen a tremendous evolution in our neighborhood. Westport is unique. Unlike the Plaza or other similar developments, Westport has multiple property owners and almost all of them are local.”

Char Bar is taking 6,000 square feet in the former Beaumont Club and about 2,000 square feet on the outdoor patio. Krtek Real Estate is still looking for a tenant for the remaining 10,000 square feet in the

space at 4050 Pennsylvania Ave.

Beaumont Club, a live music venue, opened in mid-1993. In early 2013 JFJ Real Estate Limited Partnership filed suit to evict the club saying it owed nearly $200,000 in back rent and other fees.

Westport’s new Bridger’s Bottle Shop — at the corner of Westport Road and Mill Street — will offer more than 600 different cold beers for drinking on the premises or to take home, and rotating seasonal taps.

But that’s not all.

Chef Alex Pope will open the Preservation Market within the bottle shop. It will offer house-made pickled vegetables, farmhouse and imported cheeses, and Pope’s Local Pig meats and charcuterie. Lunch will include sandwiches and salads, and the evening menu will have a selection of artisan breads, Local Pig meats, craft cheeses and pickled vegetables, with suggested beer pairings.

Regular beer dinners will be hosted by Pope, as well as Preservation Market’s executive chef Andrew Heimburger, and Bridger’s general manager and certified cicerone Erica Pyles. A cicerone (pronounced sis-uh-rohn) certification recognizes proven expertise in beer selection and serving.

“It was a good way to evolve our concept,” Pope said. “Our favorite things are cheeses, pickled vegetables and meats, cured and preserved. That’s where the name comes from.”

Bridger’s Bottle Shop and Preservation Market plan to open before St. Patrick’s Day.

Aaron Beatty, Eric Flanagan and Philip Thies of Off Key Entertainment LLC took over the space at 510 Westport Road in late July and spent the last few months renovating it and bringing Pope on board.

America's Pub had operated there for about two decades. It closed in late 2011 when its lease expired. Bridger’s takes up about half of the space and Off Key Entertainment plans to open another concept in the rest of the space by this summer.

The partners only looked at Westport sites, calling it their favorite neighborhood.

Bridger’s, both a bar and craft beer retail shop, is named after “King of the Mountain Men” Jim Bridger.

“It’s kind of refreshing for Westport. Chef run kitchens, all local money, all local operators. It’s a boon for Westport,” Beatty said.

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