Dish & Drink KC: Restaurants respond to return of Mask Mandate, Black Restaurant Week, and J. Rieger & Co. Debuts Plans for Large Expansion

The collective sigh heard ’round KC: the mandate returns

If you’ve paid attention to the news over the past few days, it seemed inevitable that some form of a mask mandate would return to Kansas City: A) Missourians are just really bad at science; B) the CDC already issued an about-face regarding masking early in the week; and C) the Delta variant seems to be as big a deal as its being made out to be, as groups of vaccinated people are reporting that they have contracted the virus, some after just spending an evening at the bar.

So the mask mandate officially returneth, and Summer 2021 suddenly is looking a little more like Summer 2020. Sigh. You’re tired of it. I’m tired of it. But hey—it’s not about us, and if my 3-year-old can do it, you can do it (actually, she kind of sucks at it, but at least she doesn’t whine and we’re working on it).

Several restaurants owners and staff have been quick to respond to/around Mayor Quinton Lucas’ pending reinstatement of the mandate. Here are just a few:

An instagram post from Casual Animal


An instagram post from Green Dirt Farm

Two more notable spots recently closed (and then reopened), due to incidental staff exposures. These both occurred a few days prior to Lucas’ announcement.


Waldo Thai

Above all, no matter what you do, whether you go out or revert to takeout, be nice to people working in restaurants. I’ve heard some sad stories lately of verbal abuse and physical threats aimed at people simply working at or running restaurants.

Just be nice. You can do this.


Photo by Zach Bauman

In happier news: it’s Black Restaurant Week!

This week, Joyce Smith at the Kansas City Star highlighted the Second Annual Black Restaurant Week in a piece worth checking out. I do recommend actually subscribing to the Star and other local papers (um, hi!) as we’re deeper into use-it-or-lose-it territory with local print journalism every single day… but you can dig into the local participants here without navigating that subscription until after you’ve found your dinner. There’s a lot of good stuff to try here, including several vegan options, spots for someone with a sweet tooth, pan-African cuisine, Caribbean food, soul food, chicken burgers, and lots more.

A rendering of the expansion at J. Rieger and Co. Distillery in Kansas City.

Courtesy of J. Rieger and Co. Distillery

J. Rieger & Co. Distillery debuts its big plans for a giant expansion

Since outdoor hangs are suddenly very much back in, an announcement this week from J. Rieger and Co. Distillery (2700 Guinotte Avenue) about a major expansion seems to be pretty timely. This fall, says the company via a press release, the distillery will debut the Electric Park Garden Bar, an 11,000-square-foot expansion to the distillery. It will feature both an outdoor bar and hangout spot, as well as a glass-enclosed atrium that will serve as an expansion of the distillery’s taproom.

Electric Park is sort of a bring-it-back-around concept for the distillery. An amusement park that gives me Devil-in-the-White-City vibes when I see it pictured, Electric Park was an amusement park located in the East Bottoms, owned by the Heim Brothers (who owned the original brewery that is now home to the Rieger distillery).

Electric Park

Electric Park in Kansas City, ca. 1901.

The new Electric Park Garden Bar is more about food, drinks, and cool seating rather than water rides and roller coasters. It will have its own menus (distinct from the Monogram Lounge and the Hey! Hey! Club) that will feature items like frozen cocktails, boozy snow cones, and cocktail floats, as well as hot chicken sandwiches, hush puppies, and more. It will be open from April to November. We’ll update you when it gets closer to opening for its debut season this fall. Until then (or at least as long as it’s hot as Hades out there), I will daydream of this:

Boozy snow cones from the new menu for Electric Park in Kansas City.

Photo courtesy of J. Rieger and Co. Distillery

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Categories: Food & Drink