By Kevin Collison
The famed Golden Ox, one of Kansas City’s legacy restaurants, has returned to the West Bottoms in all its stockyards-steeped glory, ready for a new generation of steak eaters.
“Honestly and candidly, hundreds of people have asked me when the Golden Ox was going to open,” said Bill Haw Sr., the owner of the Livestock Exchange Building.
“They tell me I always remember when my Dad took me there for a special dinner.”
The steakhouse has reopened in the same space it occupied in the Livestock Exchange Building at 1600 Genessee from 1949 until its closing four years ago.
It’s been restored to its mid-century glory with some discrete updates by respected designer John O’Brien.
“We’re attempting to bring it back to the feel of the 1950s and 1960s era,” said General Manager Richard Garcia.
The Golden Ox joins another Kansas City landmark restaurant that’s soon to be revived, the Savoy Grill.
The Savoy is being restored to its early 1900s glory and is expected to reopen in mid-July as part of the restoration of the historic downtown hotel by the 21c Museum Hotel firm.
The biggest changes in the Golden Ox are a new bar, and an open kitchen and counter area in the front of the 123-seat dining room. The original bar is located in a 1950s addition now occupied by the Stockyards Brewery.
The remainder of the room is furnished as it was in the restaurant’s heyday down to the overhead brass light fixtures stamped with cattle brands.
A section of the colorful original carpeting swarming with brands and cattle heads was kept in a side dining room.
There’s a gallery of old photos and paintings that remind 21st Century diners of the days when the Golden Ox served meat which was on the hoof shortly before in the sprawling stockyards next door.
“There were plenty of archival images of the stockyards area and the American Royal,” Garcia said.
“We purchased the portraits of past presidents of the Stockyards Exchange. The whole project was awesome.”
The restaurant, which is co-owned by Wes Gartner and Jill Myers, formally opened June 8. Gartner and Myers also operate Voltaire’s across the street.
“The warmth of the place is what’s affected me more than anything else,” Haw said. “How it feels when you walk in. The vibe is so great, you can’t help but enjoy the experience.”
Garcia, who was formerly general manager at Novel, said the restaurant hours to start will be from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturday, and Sunday from 4- to 9 p.m.
The menu is heavy on steaks and their classic side dishes.
Prices start at $18 for a five-ounce Ox Top Cut to up to $68 for a 32-ounce ribeye called The Drover that’s billed as a meal for two.
A classic, 16-ounce Kansas City Strip goes for $37 and the American Royal, a 17-ounce ribeye, is $38.
There’e also a cafe and bakery attached to the restaurant in space formerly occupied by The Hub that’s accessible from the Livestock Exchange Building lobby.
It features breakfast and carryout items. Hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday although they’re expected to expand.
With the West Bottoms enjoying a renaissance with new restaurants, the soon-to-reopen Hy-Vee Arena across the street and a 232-unit apartment project called The Yards going up next door, a Garcia believes the new Golden Ox has a bright future.
“It’s one of the most historic spots in the city,” he said. “We want to breath new life into it and usher it into a new era.
“Once again, there’s a great steakhouse in Kansas City.”
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