Downtown Overland Park, Kansas, is currently undergoing a major transformation – one that will not only change the landscape of this centrally located, walkable shopping district and farmers' market, but also add to the dining options in this up-and-coming live, work and play area.
Strang Hall, a new food hall and culinary incubator for chefs, will open by late November on the ground floor of the new Edison District, a five-story business incubator that will cater to business and culinary entrepreneurs.
Strang Hall, which operates under the business entity Menlo Food Lab, is co-owned by local investor and entrepreneur Tim Barton and Austin-based restaurateur and investor Kevin Warden, who also serves as the CEO for Strang Hall. The business model developed for this new food fall is significantly different from the typical master lease that most food halls employ today. The chefs selected for Strang Hall will work for themselves and for the company, making their own food in their own kitchens. This allows all seven concepts to work together as one entity on lower operating costs, while allowing the chefs to focus on making great food at a profit.
“In building the business model for Strang Hall, we are very focused on authenticity,” says Barton. “We want to partner with chef-owners who have waited a long time to get the break of being in charge of creating their own menus, and we are not seeking multi-location chains or restaurant groups for that reason.”
An entrepreneur himself, Barton was the founder and executive chairman of Freightquote in Kansas City before selling the business in 2014. After that he launched the Edison Factory, a company that helps build start-ups, investing in local entrepreneurs from all business sectors to help them launch, sustain and succeed. Warden is the founder and president of Flyrite Chicken, a fried chicken restaurant with three locations in Austin, Texas, where he lives and commutes back and forth to Kansas City.
“[Barton] likes to take a bunch of smart people, put them in a room, then give them a problem to solve,” say Warden. “That is how Menlo Food Labs and ultimately, Strang Hall, was born – trying to figure out how to address the cost structure on the ground floor to help add value above the ground floor of this brand-new business model.”
The new food hall is named after Overland Park founder and planner William B. Strang, whose lifelike statue sits only a few blocks away. Strang Hall will have 13,000 square feet of space with seven different chefs and restaurant concepts all located under the same roof, with a shared bar, private dining room and large outdoor patio.
The inside of the market will offer a variety of standing and seating areas with a special private dining area that sits behind the main dining area that can be reserved and catered for business meetings and private parties. The look will be modern, featuring clean lines with plenty of light woods grounded by black and earth-tone accents.
The two business partners have hand-selected the categories or types of food they would like to see in each of the seven spots inside of Strang Hall, and they have been actively recruiting local chefs to fill each spot. They are keeping all of that under wraps, however, until they are ready to announce their final team of chefs for Strang Hall. As of this week, they will start to narrow down the candidates with private tastings being held at an off-site kitchen.
Warden and Barton are still seeking a vendor offering health foods and juices. They are looking for a chef that is passionate about cooking vegetarian and vegan food, or who could cater to a wide variety of several clean-eating plans. Chefs who are interested in learning more about this opportunity should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barton says he is sold on the future of downtown Overland Park, and wants to make sure the Edison District – including Strang Hall – will offer something unique and delicious to the neighborhood.
“We could have chosen other Johnson County locations with more population density further south; however, we strongly believe in leveraging the cool vibe of a resurgent Downtown Overland Park is a better match for our model,” he says. “We are creating a truly unique experience for the community, families and friends to gather as frequently as they’d like while always having new dining options available.”
Strang Hall, 7301 W 80th St., Overland Park, Kansas, stranghall.com