owners Colby and Megan Garrelts plan to mark the restaurant’s 10th anniversary with a $100 per person party featuring the first tasting menu served when they opened on March 15, 2004.
Then, at the end of brunch service on March 30, Bluestem will close to undergo major renovations. The Westport restaurant is scheduled to reopen May 2.
“We know we have to keep churning and doing new things,” Colby says. “You have to keep it relevant.”
Bluestem’s style of Progressive American cuisine emphasizing local, Midwestern, artisanal and seasonal ingredients has received nationwide accolades and won Colby a nod as Best Chef of the Midwest last year. Now, amid a swelling tide of new food and beverage establishments putting down roots around them, it was time to give the restaurant at 900 Westport Road a much-needed facelift.
“We want to be that iconic restaurant,” Colby says. “The remodel is basically so that we can (be that).”
Local architect David Herron ofHerron + Partners
has been hired to oversee the renovations, which involve major structural changes designed to improve the working environment for employees and provide better traffic flow and service for customers.
A bathroom will be moved to open up the cramped kitchen. In the lounge, the bar will get shorter. The door between the lounge and dining room will get new mill work and the dining room platform will be removed.
There will be a few new design touches as well, including a wine rack fashioned from mailing tubes designed to resemble an aerial view of the crop circles of the Midwest.
The Garreltses say they have learned a few things from designing their more casual Midwestern restaurantRye
, in Leawood. Plus the Bluestem restaurant space is in dire need of repair, making it also a good time to shore up structurally. But fans need not fear: the menu and style of food won’t change much.
“I think our generation, we want to come into a restaurant wearing nice jeans and a top and have multi-course (meals) but we don’t want the layers of fabric and the layers of china,” Megan says. “A lot of restaurants we have been going to on the coast have this style of food, but the ambiance around you feels so much more natural and comfortable, and that’s the direction we want to go. I think the lounge is comfortable but the dining room can be stuffy.”
Colby is looking forward to the open kitchen. “I’m hoping this setup will feel a little more like (diners) can see us working and identify with us a little bit better,” he says.
Meanwhile, Megan is focusing on celebrating the old with the new. “I don’t know how emotional it will be,” Megan says of Saturday night’s party. “We really want to enjoy the last (big) night in that room.”
Can’t make it to the party but need a Bluestem fix to tide you over? The restaurant is serving a special anniverary 10-course tasting menu through Friday for $110, plus $70 for wine pairings.
For reservations to the 10th anniversary dinner, go Bluestem’s website or call 816-561-1101.