Westport’s seafood restaurant suddenly closes, to be followed by McCoy’s Public House

Changes are coming to the Westport restaurant scene.

Less than a year after opening, Sailor Jack’s Snack Shack has suddenly closed its doors.

Also, longtime brewery and restaurant McCoy’s Public House will be closing Dec. 23, said one of the owners.

“Unfortunately, market conditions and the competitive brewery environment have made it difficult to continue,” said co-owner Mark Kelpe on Monday of McCoy’s. “Our other concepts (also in Westport), Beer Kitchen and Char Bar are doing well and we look forward to their continued success.”

Kelpe and James Westphal opened Sailor Jack’s in April in their former The Foundry space at 424 Westport Road.

A sign posted on the restaurant’s door thanked customers for their patronage and adds: “gift certificates will still be honored at Beer Kitchen and Char Bar Smoked Meats & Amusements.” The sign also says “a new concept will be coming soon.”

Kelpe confirmed that he and Westphal plan to open more restaurants. He added that McCoy’s had been in business for 21 years.

McCoy’s Public House has been open in Westport for 21 years. It will close Dec. 23, a co-owner said. Keith Myers

“The number of people that have become part of our family over the years, employees in particular, have been great,” he said, including a handful who have worked at McCoy’s for 15 years or longer. He added that they’re working to place some displaced employees in other jobs.

When announcing Sailor Jack’s concept in March, Kelpe said: “We feel we do food pretty well, and we feel like Kansas City is ready for a different approach to seafood. Instead of white tablecloth, Sailor Jack’s will be a little more approachable.”

Sailor Jack’s signature dishes included four different lobster rolls, West Coast Sand Dabs, Old Bay-spiced fried chicken (from Campo Lindo Farms), Rhode Island fried clams, a spicy crab melt, lobster corn bake, low country shrimp boil and a sharing platter called “Release the Kraken.”

The restaurant’s Twitter account was active a few days ago; on Dec. 6, it posted that it was excited to participate in January’s KC Restaurant Week.

The front patio connected to McCoy’s next door, and its facade resembled the bow of a boat with a 30-foot mast and three sails. Tabletops were made from 1880s-era ship hatches. Photography of rescued pit bulls dressed as admirals were among the artwork.

An employee said workers were told of the closings Sunday night, and described the mood as “somber as a funeral.”

On The Star’s Facebook page, some praised Sailor Jack’s food — “Nooooo not our fish and chips!!!!” — while other lamented never being able to try it.

As for McCoy’s, while some customers planned visit before it closed to say goodbye, others weren’t as sentimental.

One reader commented: “I’m totally confused as to why folks would want to ‘say good bye’ to a business that would close one restaurant (with no notice to employees) and close another 2 days before Christmas, leaving their workers literally out in the cold. You’re basically saying that what the business owner is doing is OK by spending any money there.”

Larry Goldman, owner of the two Westport buildings and broker with RE/MAX, said he planned to meet with Westphal and Kelpe later this week about “possibly re-concepting” McCoy’s.

“I’ve just been super spoiled, as you can imagine. They’ve been outstanding tenants and great for the neighborhood,” Goldman said. “We are exploring options. Maybe a new version of McCoy’s. The beer scene has just changed a lot since it opened.”

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