Rachel Kennedy Cuevas, owner of the Cuban-inspired Plantain District food truck, has cooked up a plan for a new food, drink and retail lot in North Kansas City. The Iron District will operate out of a collection of colorful repurposed shipping containers located at the corner of 16th and Iron Street.

The Iron District is set to open this fall; Cuevas is currently looking for the right food and retail vendors to sign on for a spot inside the new outdoor entertainment district in North Kansas City.

The new area will feature five food vendors in addition to the Plantain District food truck, a full-service bar, a stage where local bands will play on Friday and Saturday nights, and eight to 16 spaces for local retail artisans to sell their products. Additionally, there will be outdoor seating and lighting to allow people to stay and eat and shop into the evening hours with bathrooms on-site.

“After years of working in corporate finance, I decided to follow my dream of running a food truck business and starting a family, and I now realize I need more consistency in my business and my schedule,” says Cuevas. “I needed a spot where our fans could find the Plantain District truck on a regular basis, one that was near my home up North, so I did my research and developed a business model for The Iron District and presented it to the City of North Kansas City hoping they could help me get this idea off the ground.”

After her presentation, a North Kansas City council member introduced her to Zach and Lisa Taylor, who own an empty cement lot at the corner of 16th and Iron Streets in Kansas City. The couple had been looking for the right opportunity to develop the property that had been sitting, underutilized, in an industrial part of North Kansas City. With highway access to I-29 southbound located just down the street from the lot, there is currently plenty of drive-by traffic that will be able to see, and stop, at The Iron District once it is open.   

North Kansas City is exploding with new food, drink and entertainment-related businesses, and Cuevas’ idea seemed like the “right time, right place” to the couple, who will be the owner, landlord and developer of The Iron District. Cuevas will be the general manager, handling recruiting and vendor relations for all of food and retail businesses.

“They have been great to work with, and they really loved this idea from the beginning,” says Cuevas. “They are as excited as I am to see the vision for this empty lot come to fruition.” In fact, Lisa will be opening her own retail shop inside the district called Boheme, featuring her own handcrafted candles and other items for the home.

As a food truck owner herself, Cuevas has built The Iron District with every detail covered as to what a food truck, chef or caterer really needs for success. The lot will have drive-on access for food trucks to enter and reach their kitchens easily, and she will oversee the buildout of the fully functional commercial kitchens.

Each of the kitchens will be approved for use by caterers, chefs and food trucks. Each kitchen will be designed to be turnkey, and will come with standard kitchen equipment and all health department requirements like a mop sink, three-compartment sink and hand-washing sink. Best of all, each container is planned to have air-conditioning. There are also plans for a large vegetable and herb garden that all the food vendors would be able to use and would help maintain on site.

As utilities are currently being run to the site and shipping container are starting to arrive, Cuevas has started her search to curate a mix of restaurants and retail concepts that will make The Iron District a unique dining, drinking and shopping destination.

“I am looking for food trucks, chefs or caterers with a unique menu, restaurants who want to test a concept, or really anyone who needs an approved commercial kitchen and is willing to open up their doors and sell their food to the public as part of this communal dining experience,” says Cuevas. “I want to offer vegetarian and vegan options and am looking for a mix of several different cuisines and menus.” She plans for The Iron District to be open seasonally from May to October for lunch and dinner, as well as brunch on Sundays.

Ideally, food and retail vendors would sign up to rent a space for a whole season, and when the season is over, Cuevas would rent out the kitchens on an as-needed basis during the winter months to food trucks or caterers who have holiday catering jobs.

For more information about becoming a food or retail vendor in The Iron District, contact Rachel Kennedy Cuevas at rachel@plantaindistrict.com.

The Iron District, 1599 Iron St., North Kansas City, Missouri

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

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