Seventeen days. That's how long restaurateurs Kevin Timmons and Doug Watkins think it will take to have the two-story space at 5031 Main, which they've nearly gutted since starting the project in January, ready for a soft opening as the first midtown satellite of their popular Nick and Jake's restaurant at 6830 West 135th Street (another location is in Parkville).
There's a crew in the building (originally opened as a dry cleaner in the 1920s) working furiously, laying aged oak flooring and carpeting, painting walls, reconstructing the bar, repairing long-covered windows and installing new kitchen equipment. John O'Brien of the Dolphin Gallery is there, too, consulting with Timmons and Watkins on the interior design. He also thinks it will be ready April 21.
"We might have to burn a sage smudge stick first," says Timmons - only half joking. This brick building has a little bad mojo left over from some of the previous tenants (most recently The Beacon, Jack Gage American Tavern and the Double Dragon Chinese Buffet), not that the new Nick and Jake's is going to look like any of those previous incarnations. There will be 15 TV monitors in the bar, an outdoor patio, and more seating in the dining rooms. The second floor will be reserved for private parties (they're already booking summer pre-nuptial dinners) but may get some additional use on Sundays, when Nick and Jake's offers a buffet brunch.
That closing was bittersweet for Timmons and Watkins, but they're now completely focused on the new location for their name brand. Why did it take so long for them to consider midtown Kansas City?
"We're a family-owned business," Timmons says. "We wanted to work close to home to be able to spend time with our kids and stay involved in their activities. But they're grown now."
Timmons says the response he's getting from residents in the surrounding neighborhood has been overwhelmingly positive. "People stop in to check us out and ask when we're opening almost every day." A new 170-unit apartment complex is also being constructed directly across the street from the restaurant.
Timmons and Watkins hired two veterans from Leawood's Sullivan's Steakhouse to oversee the new restaurant: Larry Kime, former Sullivan's Steakhouse general manager, will be the midtown Nick and Jake's managing partner, and former Sullivan's chef, 30-year-old Devin Wilson, will take charge of the kitchen.
"The menu will be very much like our Leawood and Parkville restaurants," Timmons says, "with maybe a few changes. We're thinking of adding some small plates. But our reputation is built on serving good, consistent American food."
Wilson does plan to offer two or three specials, including fresh fish, every day.
Larry Kime says the new Nick and Jake's has already started booking dinner reservations for the restaurant, tentatively scheduled to open to the public on April 26; the venue will begin serving dinners only at first and add lunches soon after.