A two-acre piece of land, once considered unsuitable for development by Kansas City Port Authority as it's located under the Heart of America bridge, is now a bow-wow hub for dog owners and their canine companions.

Bar K Dog Bar is a new off-leash dog park, restaurant and bar that opened in mid-August on the western edge of Berkley Riverfront Park. The 5,000-square-foot building is a colorful, modern mix of glass windows and shipping containers that opens to the outside.

Owners David Hensley and Leib Dodell spent the past five years working on Bar K, and their hard work has created a completely unique dog-friendly place in Kansas City. It is just as much fun for dog owners as it is for their four-legged friends. “We both have dogs of our own, and we saw the need for a place where the dogs could socialize, while their owners do the same,” says Hensley.

One of most unique aspects to the food program at Bar K is a menu created just for dogs with help from nutritionists at Purina. Dog-friendly dishes include beef stew, chicken risotto and turkey-sweet potato meatballs. To create the regular menu, the partners also turned to the professionals for help. Chef Joe Shirley consulted on the “healthy casual” menu, which is available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

At breakfast, enjoy a hot cup of Messenger coffee paired with their Sammy, a breakfast sandwich with a fried egg, turkey sausage and Cheddar cheese on an English muffin. Another fan favorite is the avocado toast, in addition to juices and smoothies. “We will likely add more streamlined grab-and-go items in the mornings because people have less time to linger,” says Hensley.

For lunch, happy hour and dinner, look for the sandwiches, soups, salads and bowls to fill you up. Yet the list of snacks, meant to be enjoyed with a cold drink, is what really shines. Choose from deviled eggs, fries with spicy mayo, chips and guacamole, hummus and soft pretzel sticks. “My main goal was to help create a streamlined menu that was easy for the culinary team to execute day in and day out, in addition to being fresh and delicious,” Shirley says, adding that there are also plenty of vegan and vegetarian items on the menu.

Dodell is a minor investor in The Rieger, so he asked Ryan Maybee, co-owner of The Rieger and Manifesto, to develop the cocktail menu for Bar K along with suitable beer and wine lists. Maybee’s signature Horsefeather is on tap, in addition to a Smoked G&T made with J. Rieger & Co.'s Midwestern Gin smoked with applewood, served with tonic and fresh fruit. Maybee also outdid himself with a frozen concoction called KC Bulldog, which features J. Rieger KC Vodka and Caffe Amaro, Messenger cold-brew coffee, cream and root beer. It's so good, you could drink it morning, noon and night.

Dogs certainly have the run of the place at Bar K; the only exception is the indoor restaurant and bar area that is for humans only. Sit upstairs on the outdoor patio with your pooch on leash as you watch the other dogs run through a special dog jungle gym built with help from Westlake Hardware, climb on the five-sided rock-climbing wall by RoKC Climbing Gym or take a dip in the shallow splash pool.

“We have a separate gated space sectioned off for smaller dogs weighing no more than 25 pounds, and dogs of all sizes can be set loose in the large off-lease dog park under Bar K employee supervision,” explains Hensley. “Puppies can be placed in the Puppies’ Pub for dogs three to nine months.”

Outside in the off-lease dog park area is a stage where local musicians play music, sponsored by Bayer Animal Health. The stage sits in front of a slamming outdoor beer garden and series of picnic tables, where an owner can get a drink while watching their pooch play. A building called the Groom-Groom Room serves as an on-site dog salon, and a 3,000-square-foot Petfinder Park, sponsored by Petfinder.com and Purina, is used to host dog adoptions, training classes and other programs on the weekends.

Annual memberships to Bar K provide unlimited access to the supervised dog park, and cost $225 annually for your first dog, and an additional $25 for each additional dog. If you aren’t a member, day passes can be bought for $10 plus $5 for each additional dog.

It's time to make a doggie play-date with a group of friends and family at Bar K Dog Bar.

Bar K Dog Bar is open Monday through Friday from 7am to 10pm and Saturday from Sunday from 9am to 10pm.

Bar K Dog Bar, 501 Berkley Pkwy., Kansas City, Missouri, 816.474.2275, barkdogbar.com

Jenny is Feast's contributing editor for Kansas City. She brakes for chef's coats.

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