Community favorites champion a new normal.
It’s no secret that Martin City landmarks Jess & Jim’s Steakhouse and RC’s Restaurant are battling back against pandemic pressures, and you can bet other restaurants are in for the fight as well. Dining room restrictions may have knocked them back on their heels, but it’s full steam ahead now with more customers showing support at the curb.
“We’ve just been trucking along,” says Martin City Brewing Company’s General Manager, T.J. Carr. He oversees restaurant operations on 135th Street, including the Pizza and Tap Room. “We immediately switched our focus to takeout and delivery as soon as the order came to shutdown dining rooms across Kansas City.”
Martin City Brewing Company was quick to jump on its popular social media channels to assure customers that the entire operation was staying clean, safe and ready for both food and beer orders. Owner Matt Moore is going all out to take care of customers and the community. He has even temporarily converted his event space, The Martin, at 135th & Holmes into a mask production facility and is encouraging the rest of us to make our own at home.
“We need your help!,” wrote Moore in a Facebook post. “Produce your own masks. You can drop them off at any of our Martin City locations and we’ll deliver them directly to the hospitals.”
“Matt Moore and his management team are just great,” says bartender Erica Goscha. “They’re taking care of the staff in any way they can. We’re a tight-knit group, you know. We’re really sticking together and making the best of it.”
Carr says nothing helps morale like hearing the phone ring. “The orders are coming in and keeping us going. Our curbside sales have been pretty busy and our staff is doing a great job.” Carr is also anxious to reopen The Scoop ice cream kiosk up the street after pandemic restrictions are lifted.
Down the street and around the corner on Holmes Road, Margarita’s South has reopened after initially closing for a few days to regroup and reorganize around takeout in this strange new era restaurants suddenly find themselves in.
“We didn’t get much time to figure out a plan to reopen because our phones were ringing off the hook,” says owner Dave Quirarte. “Funny thing is that initially, we got a few phone calls from customers complaining about us shutting down the dining room! They didn’t realize we were forced to close it. But it was enough to convince us that the demand was still there and takeout was definitely worth rallying around.”
Margarita’s South was back open in time for Taco Tuesday, a critical day of the week for all Mexican restaurants. Customers showed up right on cue as soon as Margarita’s South opened for lunch and servers met them at the curb with legendary flavors.
“I’m glad we’re serving again but I’m working with a smaller staff,” says Quirarte. “I feel sorry for all of my employees and I really can’t wait until we all fully reopen again.”
Martin City Coffee on Holmes Road is more grateful than ever for its drive-thru lane these days. The stream of cars passing through hasn’t let up much despite pandemic conditions. People are flocking to the drive-thru as a safe and easy way to get the premium java and hand-crafted food they love.
Martin City Coffee gave its social media a jolt of caffeine as soon as news of dining room shutdowns began to spread. Owner Penny Romero sent the right message at the right time before customers had a chance to wonder what plan B might be like.
Morning traffic in the drive-thru is stretching into the lunch rush and Martin City Coffee continues to receive orders all the way up to closing in the evening. The business has enjoyed quite a run since opening over a year ago. Great to see it holding up now under difficult circumstances.
The effort at Jack Stack Barbecue at the corner of Holmes Road and 135th Street is nothing short of heroic. Jack Stack was already operating around a construction project when the pandemic hit. The popular Martin City location is undergoing an amazing kitchen transformation and now having to suddenly turn up the heat on takeout service at the same time.
But it takes more than construction and strict new pandemic rules to hold Jack Stack back. They know their fans will stay loyal and hungry, so they’ve created a finely-tuned drive-through process out back that allows customers to quickly pick up bags of barbecue and get back home in no time.
All Jack Stack locations have put their heads together to figure out ways to step up service, including massive box lunch production benefitting healthcare workers and using their fleet of catering vans for delivery. Is there an appetite for the special effort? Well, Jack Stack recently had to put spare rib orders on hold temporarily because they ran out! Don’t worry, that’s over now. Whew!
If you’re debating about whether or not to whip up a meal with groceries in the kitchen, please consider how much your support of local restaurants matters right now. Talk to workers and they’ll tell you that every single order boosts their spirits and gives them a little more hope that we’ll make it through this. Hope means so much to all of us in this pandemic. We’re all fighting to keep our communities healthy, and that includes keeping money flowing as the lifeblood of the local restaurants we love.
If you really want to make a difference, take the Gift Card Challenge, a great idea from the South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. They’ve challenged the greater Kansas City business community to join them in purchasing five $20 gift cards from local area restaurants or local service businesses and then challenging five friends to do the same.