By Kevin Collison
After months of bureaucratic delays, Made in Kansas City’s River Market location is on track for opening this Friday, serving a variety of coffee drinks from a vintage streetcar permanently parked at Fifth and Delaware.
News of a potential River Market location first surfaced almost two years ago, and Keith Bradley, co-owner of Made in KC, said his firm began work in earnest about a year ago and had hoped to open last April.
“The pandemic didn’t slow us, it was working with the city on how to permit and license this unique space,” said Keith Bradley, co-owner of Made in KC.
But now that it’s finished and all the red tape resolved, the unique operation is expected to be a popular stop for residents and tourists alike.
The old streetcar once served Kansas City between 1947 and 1957, and later was used in Toronto and San Francisco before going into storage in 1979.
It was displayed awhile at Union Station, went into storage again, and was finally moved to its current site in late 2017 by Denver developer Craig Slawson, who originally hoped to convert it to an ice cream parlor before Betty Rae’s opened next door.
Bradley said Slawson then approached him with the idea of a Made in KC shop there.
“He pitched us on the idea of a gift shop in the trolley, but we like the concept of beverage service too,” he said.
A year ago, in what turned out to be a prescient move before the Covid pandemic hit last spring, a large patio deck was built alongside the streetcar to expand seating opportunities. It can accommodate 25- to 30 people.
The beverage and food service operation occupies about half of the interior of the old car. Made in KC also is applying for a liquor license to serve beer, wine and spirits. Customers can either order inside or at a walkup window off the patio.
The food side includes locally made pastries and grab-and-go sandwiches including breakfast fare.
The other half of the car includes a couple of the original seats for limited indoor dining as well as a gift shop with local goods done by Made in KC artisans.
This will be Made in KC’s second café operation downtown, the other is at 11th and Baltimore. It also has three neighborhood shops and recently opened its second “Marketplace” concept in Lee’s Summit. The other Marketplace is at the Plaza.
Bradley said the manager of the 11th and Baltimore shop also will run the River Market location. There will be four- to six employees at the streetcar.
Hours will be 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. Made in KC plans to keep the streetcar open year round, it has air conditioning and heating.
The Delaware address not only offers the new venue a location on one of the metro’s best-preserved stretches of late 19th Century buildings, but also a front seat on its 21st Century streetcar line.
“The street has a lot of character and big city feel and also the association of the old streetcar with the modern is fun,” Bradley said.
He said the long slog to open the new operation in the River Market was well worth the trouble.
“We started the year with a couple of leases in place and we wanted to make good on them,” he said.
“This is a great location. We love the River Market so much and we didn’t want to give up on it. We felt it was worth the headache.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity this gives us. The café and trolley will be something locals and tourists will appreciate for years to come.
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