Chef Michael Corvino announces his next move after leaving the American, Margarita Wars is this weekend, and other restaurant news

Chef Michael Corvino doesn’t have time to get nostalgic about leaving the kitchen of the American Restaurant — Kansas City’s best-known fine-dining venue for 42 years.

Corvino, the American’s executive chef for the past three years, handed in his notice at the Hallmark-owned property in June, weeks before the announcement that the restaurant would close in early August, and the Warren Platner–designed dining room would henceforth be used for special bookings and pop-up events.

Corvino says he didn’t know about the American’s new direction before the announcement, but he had by then a year and a half planning his own restaurant — to be owned and operated in partnership with his wife, Christina Corvino.

“I knew I wanted to be in the Crossroads,” he tells The Pitch, “but we looked at quite a few properties before teaming up with Copaken Brooks.”

That Kansas City commercial real estate firm has been developing the 96-year-old Corrigan Station building at 1828 Walnut as a 10-story mixed-use facility, with plans for a street-level restaurant.

“The Corrigan building — and the Crossroads — just fit our concept,” Michael Corvino says.

The concept he means is a 5,320-square-foot space, holding a 90-seat “supper club” (with a separate 50-seat private dining area) and an 18-seat “tasting room.” The latter will offer a frequently changing array of small plates, much like what the chef created for the lounge menu at the American. Both dining rooms, he says, will feature distinct menus, served only at dinnertime. Live music figures into the supper-club plan, with the shared plates going for $10-$20 range. Corvino says he expects the kitchen to stay open past midnight; the supper club will accept reservations and walk-in patrons, whereas the Tasting Room will be reservation-only.

Michael and Christina Corvino stress that the name of the new restaurant—tentatively slated to open next February — will be Corvino. Not Corvino’s.

“That sounds like a spaghetti-and-meatball shop,” the chef says of the possessive. “I have nothing against spaghetti and meatballs. But that’s not what we’re planning here.”

The Corvino interior will boast 16-foot ceilings and the original load-bearing 1920 columns; the architects and designers of the restaurant space are Matthew and Jesse Hufft, of Kansas City–based Hufft Projects.

Corvino says he hasn’t started hiring staff yet, but one position is already taken: He’s baking the bread himself. A pastry chef for the venue will be a must, he adds, but he has yet to have a discussion with Nick Wesemann, his American Restaurant pastry chef and fellow James Beard Award nominee.— C.F.

The Pitch’s third annual Margarita Wars starts pouring at 6 p.m. Friday, August 12, at 7421 Broadway (the parking lot behind the Well). Sample and judge for yourself whether the competition’s best margaritas come from Cacao, Chuy’s, Drunken Worm, Taqueria Mexico, El Patrón, K Macho’s, On the Border, the Well, Lew’s or Charlie Hooper’s. Food will be available from Pickleman’s, Grace’s Best Cookies, Blue Bird Bistro and more. General-admission tickets are $25, and VIP tickets cost $35; the latter gets you early entry to the event. Tickets at pitch.com.

Frida’s Contemporary Mexican Cuisine (7200 West 121st Street, Overland Park) has gone dark. A press release notes: “Alex Chaudhri, owner of Frida’s, expressed his thanks to the many loyal customers they have enjoyed over the years. Closure was cited as an inability to finalize renegotiation of their lease with the new owners of the center. The property was sold in January 2016 to a California investment group.”

Homer Simpson types who find their way into any of the three KC-area Filling Station locations (2980 McGee Trafficway; 1010 Westport Road; 7420 Johnson Drive, Overland Park) are now in luck: Doughnut Lounge doughnuts are now for sale Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. Each location will offer plain glazed and specialty doughnuts, until the day’s supplies run out. Snooze, you lose.

Take this, summer — Betty Rae’s Ice Cream (7140 Wornall) has received its liquor license from the city and will begin serving boozy shakes, beer floats and other adult beverages beginning this Friday. Owner David Friesen explains that his crew is still developing some recipes and looking into what local distilleries can offer, but a handful of recipes are already settled.

“Right now we have plans for ice cream versions of a White Russian, a Creamsicle with vanilla and triple sec, Thou Mayest coffee ice cream with Bailey’s, beer and champagne floats … and a scoop of vanilla with a shot of bourbon over the top,” he says. Consider your weekend plans set. 

Thursday, August 11

If you share the altogether correct belief that there is no better summer indulgence than a loaded BLT made with ripe heirloom tomatoes, tonight’s Slow Food KC event is for you. The group is presenting a BLT Battle, featuring BLT bites made by some of KC’s name-brand talents, including Beth Barden (Succotash), Michael Foust (Farmhouse), Craig Howard (Howard’s Grocery and Catering) and Renée Kelly (Renée Kelly’s Harvest). The battle goes down at Lifted Spirits Distillery (1734 Cherry). Tickets are $30 and include two craft cocktails, BLT bites and a gift bag. See slowfoodkc.org for information and tickets.

At Louie’s Wine Dive (6701 West 119th Street, Overland Park) tonight is another in its series of “Wine Dabbler” events, this time to choose a new entrant for the wine board. For $25, customers can try eight tasting pours, a full pour of one favorite, and sample light appetizers. Tickets: the restaurant’s Facebook page or 913-469-4177.

Saturday, August 13

Sample a variety of KC-area craft beers and Missouri cheeses at Green Dirt Farm’s cheese-appreciation event out at the idyllic Weston sheep farm (1099 Welt). The event highlights the local boom in both products. Tickets cost $65. The event is sold out but may have cancellations.

While the Waffle Iron’s Sam Donnell seeks  a new permanent location for his business, he continues to make the rounds, serving griddled goodness at various restaurant pop-ups. Today he’s at Port Fonda Lawrence (900 New Hampshire), for a collaboration that suits breakfast as well as dinner.Sunday, August 14Enjoy the elegant cuisine of chef Joe West (Kusshi pop-ups, the upcoming Stock Hill Steakhouse) in one of the city’s finest settings at tonight’s Barn Dinner at Powell Gardens (1609 Northwest U.S. Highway 50, Kingsville). West draws on the Heartland Harvest garden, Missouri’s largest edible garden, for today’s food. The event is sold out, but call Linda at 816-697-2600 (extension 209) to be put on the waiting list. — A.F.

Categories: Food & Drink