Michael Corvino plans to open the Corvino Supper Club and Tasting Room at 18th and Walnut in 2017
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 (and allegedly the least profitable) for 42 years.
Corvino, the American’s executive chef for the last three years, says he had given his notice to the Hallmark-owned property in June, weeks before the announcement that the restaurant would be closing this weekend and the Warren Platner-designed dining room would henceforth be used for special events and pop-up dining experiences.
Corvino says he had not been informed of the future plans for the American prior to the announcement, but he had already been planning the creation of his own restaurant – to be owned and operated in partnership with his wife, Christina – for the last 18 months.
“I knew I wanted to be in the Crossroads,” he says, “but we looked at quite a few properties before teaming up with Copaken Brooks.”
Kansas City-based commercial real estate firm Copaken Brooks has been developing the 96-year-old Corrigan Station building at 1828 Walnut as a 10-story mixed use facility and had planned for a street-level restaurant in its earliest plans.
“The Corrigan building – and the Crossroads – just fit our concept,” Michael Corvino says.
The concept is to use the 5,320 square foot space as both a 90-seat “supper club” venue (with a separate 50-seat private dining area) and an 18-seat “tasting room” that would offer a frequently changing array of small plates, much like the dishes he created for the lounge menu at the American. Both dining rooms would have distinctive menus, served only during the dinner hour. The Supper Club would feature live music nightly and a menu focused on shared plates in the $10-$20 range. Corvino told me that he expects the kitchen to stay open past midnight; the Supper Club will accept reservations and walk-in patrons while the Tasting Room will be open by reservation only.
Michael and Christina Corvino stress that the name of the new restaurant—tentatively planned for a February 2017 opening – will be Corvino. Not Corvino’s.
“That sounds like a spaghetti-and-meatball shop,” he says. “And I have nothing against spaghetti and meatballs. But that’s not what we’re planning here.”
The interior of the Corvino space will boast 16-foot ceilings and the massive 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 he’ll be the official bread baker. A pastry chef for the venue will be a must, he says, but he has yet to have a discussion with Nick Wesemann, his American Restaurant pastry chef and fellow James Beard Award nominee.