Westport Cafe & Bar’s Aaron Confessori brings on two new co-owners

Looking for a house? Rich Wiles, former executive chef and co-owner of Westport Café & Bar, might be your man. He’s going into real estate.

Looking for a chai-poached pear? Westport Café’s new co-owner and executive chef, Romain Monnoyeur, is one of two new French-born faces in the six-year-old restaurant.

Monnoyeur and Kevin Mouhot joined the restaurant’s founder, Aaron Confessori, two months ago. Mouhot – his background includes stints at both London’s Hotel Dorchester and the Monsieur Paul restaurant at Disney’s EPCOT Center – is now the general manager at Westport Café & Bar.

So how did this deal come together? “We had hired Pat Phelan at Leap Hospitality as a consultant,” says Confessori, “to provide an unbiased third-party opinion into our business. He told me, ‘I got a call from two French guys who want to come to Kansas City to open a restaurant. I’m meeting with them tomorrow.’ That was the impetus for the change.”

Confessori retains his ownership stake in the restaurant, but Monnoyeur and Mouhot – who knew the KC area from an internship at Parkville’s Café des Amis several years ago – have purchased an interest in the business.

“They felt they could stand out from the competition in a city like ours rather than a more highly competitive market like Chicago or San Francisco,” Confessori says. “And there’s a tradition in Kansas City of local chefs who trained in different areas of the country coming back to their hometown to open their own places, including Patrick Ryan and Colby Garrelts.”

Confessori says he has already implemented some of Mouhot’s ideas: “Kevin’s already increased our reserve wine list, and on weekends he uses a cart, going from table to table, serving many of our higher-end wines by the glass.”

He adds, “We’re also trying out more dishes prepared tableside. The servers aren’t wearing tuxedos, it’s not that formal, but customers love that kind of presentation. We’re demystifying the process, making it approachable but fun.”

Since a new landlord now controls Westport Square, the building that houses Westport Café & Bar, Confessori has been discussing the possibility of adding a rooftop deck to his venue.

“There’s not much room for expansion here,” he says. “We can only grow one way – by moving up.”

Categories: Dining, Music