Raising the Roof in Downtown Kansas City
Article by Stephen Lindsley
Situated in the heart of the Power & Light District, the Kansas City, Mo, location of Drunken Fish is an oasis of Japanese cuisine in a town known for its barbecue. Voted “Best New Restaurant” by KC Magazine in 2011, Drunken Fish has quickly established itself as a trendy hot spot in downtown Kansas City.
Apart from its Asian fare, Drunken Fish is well known for its popular happy hour, where guests can mingle amidst stylish contemporary décor and eclectic popular music while taking advantage of regular drink specials, plus special menu options such as Signature Steals, Fish Fetishes and Sushi 101.
The physical layout of the P&L Drunken Fish is as unique as its cuisine. There are three levels to choose from, each with its own unique attractions. The main level is where much of the sit-down dining takes place, and the sprawling bar here is happy hour heaven by itself, but this is just the beginning.
The second level is a large area that is available for private parties, meetings, and events of all kinds. Offering accommodations for 40 to 50 guests at a sit-down dinner or 60 to 70 standing, the second floor is often reserved for private parties, business meetings or social get-togethers. Tables and chairs can provide endless configuration options, or be pushed aside to create a large open area for a wide range of potential purposes.
Artist Nadia Kharbush holds a weekly event called Paint Nite in the second-level space. Paint Nite (paintnite.com) is a nationwide concept that pairs basic painting instruction sessions with beer, wine and cocktails – and for her purposes the restaurant seems ideal.
“It’s been a fantastic venue so far,” says Kharbush. “I (usually) teach at more of a bar-style venue, so this has been great for people who don’t want to deal with the bar scene. The space is perfect – we have our own private room, bathrooms upstairs, an elevator, and during the summer there’s a beautiful, massive patio open. It seats quite a few people but my maximum for teaching there is 30 people. It’s been very consistent with ticket sales and they’re very helpful with my classes.”
Up on the roof
The massive patio to which Kharbush alludes is the seasonal rooftop patio, which itself was chosen as “Best Rooftop Bar” in 435 Magazine’s Best of KC 2015 poll. This generous outdoor space glitters at night with an amazing 360-degree view of the downtown skyline. Seating 60 with existing tables – with room for more if rented tables are brought in – the space can accommodate upwards of 200 happy folks at a cocktail-style reception.
Patrons can take advantage of a full bar, fire pits and stylish lounge furniture that combine to create an atmosphere found nowhere else in the area. Dramatic lighting completes the scene, with traditional paper lanterns hanging above the bar, bars of red neon around the edges of the rooftop and twinkling strings of white lights along the polished steel railings.
Any group of clients or out-of-town guests would be impressed by the cosmopolitan flair of this rooftop oasis on a fair-weather Kansas City evening. Combine this with a round of hot or cold Gekkeikan sake and a generous tray of sashimi, nigiri, qyoza or soft-shelled crab appetizers, and the deal is all but sealed.
Chopsticks at the ready
Every location of Drunken Fish is known locally for its comprehensive selection of Japanese delicacies. The Power & Light District location is no exception. Along with the nearly 20 appetizer options, there are four soups, six salads, and à la carte dinner sides, plus new style sashimi, signature dinner rolls, and combination plates. The dinner classic option – sashimi + nigari – offers a dazzling array of nearly 30 combinations, and dinner entrees include mouth-watering choices such as sesame tuna steak, donburi with shrimp, chicken katsu, and teriyaki with salmon. Even the desserts are unique takes on traditional Japanese favorites such as mochi, fried banana, strawberry cheesecake makimono or fried green tea ice cream.
Big city, big business
Cerner Corporation is a North Kansas City-based health information technology company, and, according to a recent Kansas City Star article, the area’s fastest-growing large employer. This year Cerner Corp. and its partners won a $4.3 billion, 10-year defense contract to overhaul the military’s health-care records systems. Due in part to this new contract, the company plans to hire 16,000 associates in Kansas City over the next 10 years.
According to Drunken Fish assistant district manager Charles Schneider, Cerner Corp. has used the P&L location for a wide range of corporate outings, from small informal gatherings to an occasion when Cerner rented the entire facility for a large-scale company event. The staff at Drunken Fish make sure that the needs of every group are met, no matter the size or the occasion. The flexibility of the facility itself makes this objective easier.
If you’re ever lucky enough to visit Kansas City for business or pleasure – or if you make KC your home – be sure to try its world-famous barbecue. But if you are seeking a meeting or event space that lends an international flair to a local affair, look no farther than Drunken Fish in the Power & Light District.
Drunken Fish – Power & Light District
14 East 14th Street
Kansas City, MO 64106