West Bottoms Kitchen, a soon-to-open bar and Southern-inspired restaurant located in the historic Stockyard District of the West Bottoms, is definitely a family affair.
It took over four years for retired physician-turned-chef Jim Hamilton and his daughter Hannah Murray, who graduated from University of Kansas-Lawrence in 2012 with a degree in interior design, to be ready to open the doors of their first restaurant in Kansas City.
The father-daughter team is planning a soft opening for West Bottoms Kitchen on Thu., June 2, and a public opening on Mon., June 6. The restaurant will be open for lunch only; they plan use the space for private catered events in the evenings.
The glamorously remodeled space, which was formerly home to hot dog cafe Franks, features Murray's interior design work. She's worked in the restaurant business for the past 12 years and will serve as the front-of-house manager once West Bottoms Kitchen is open.
The dining room itself seats only 35, plus room for 12 more outside, yet it feels remarkably spacious inside. It reads luxurious, yet masculine – gray walls mirror the reclaimed wood behind the bar, with just a pop of peacock blue in the bar chairs. There is also a large painting of a bull on the wall, homage to the West Bottoms stockyards, where their new restaurant now calls home.
The menu will feature American dishes with a Southern influence, including lots of meat – this is the West Bottoms, after all.
“Our signature item will be our blackened meatloaf with a smoky barbecue au jus and grilled leeks served on a bed of smoked sweet potato puree,” Hamilton tells Feast.
He explains that all of the sandwiches will be served on housemade Sally Lunn bread, a classic Southern style of sweet brioche bread (English baker Sally Lunn is said to have brought the bread to America in the 1800s, and it was almost immediately adopted by the South).
Other lunch menu items include a fried green tomato BLT made with candied bacon, whipped goat cheese and corn meal battered and fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits with red-eye gravy and catfish served over rice with a Tabasco brown butter sauce.
“We plan to only offer 10 to 12 menu items for lunch, with salads, soups, sandwiches and entrees – it will be a delicious but manageable menu,” Murray says.
They plan to offer a full bar at lunch, as they'll need it to host private parties in the space at night. In order to pair with the Southern-inspired fare, the cocktail list will skew more toward bourbon and whiskey, with plans for several types of juleps on the menu. Beer and wine will also be available.
The family had originally announced plans to open a restaurant called Zola’s in Columbus Park in 2013, but the space they secured had no plumbing, and they found the hurdles to getting that space restaurant-ready were going to be too expensive.
“When the Columbus Park location didn’t work, we simply opened Hamilton Catering and started working out of the Farm to Table Kitchen in the City Market,” Hamilton says.
Along with his wife and grown son, Hamilton relocated from Joplin to Kansas City to start what will be Hamilton’s second – and Murray’s first – restaurant. Previously, the family owned a restaurant, Zola's, in Joplin for many years.
“We had a successful restaurant in Joplin with another couple, and we served Southern dishes there as well, so some of those recipes will carry over into what we serve at West Bottoms Kitchen,” he says.
Hamilton and his partners closed Zola’s in Joplin in 2004, but he has never lost his love for cooking, or his desire to open a second restaurant with his family.
“This has always been part of my retirement dream – well, this, and laying on the beach all day – and I am here as long as they need me to get this business up and running for Hannah and her husband, Brett,” Hamilton says with a touch of fatherly pride.
West Bottoms Kitchen will be open to the public for lunch only, Monday through Friday from 11am to 2pm.
West Bottoms Kitchen, 1623 Genessee St., West Bottoms, Kansas City, Missouri, 816.878.9694,westbottomskitchen.com