By Kevin Collison
The intersection of 17th and Grand may become the most irresistible olfactory zone in downtown Kansas City by early fall with the arrival of Messenger Coffee Co.
Matt Matsch, CEO and managing partner of Messenger, and his partners are converting a former car dealership at 1624 Grand Blvd. into what they hope will be a community gathering spot that will accommodate 150 people indoors and offer a rooftop deck with panoramic views of downtown.
A big part of the shared experience will be the aroma of their Ibis Bakery ovens turning out fresh pastries and breads while the Messenger side of the operation roasts fresh coffee beans from throughout the world for its baristas.
Matsch said the building, which dates back to the early 1900s, was purchased about 2 1/2 years ago, but it’s taken longer than expected to get the business rolling.
He anticipates a grand opening on Oct. 7, and a soft opening sometime before that. In the meantime, Messenger Coffee is happy to be part of the downtown revival.
“I think Kansas City has a lot of really good energy right now,” Matsch said. “We want to be in the heart of that and felt it’s really important to be a staple in downtown.”
Messenger already has a solid base in the Kansas City area, having purchased the Filling Station Coffee shops a few years ago. The firm also supplies roasted beans to coffee shops throughout the region.
Matsch said Messenger has a strong commitment to direct trade, and gives back 10 percent to the farms that supply its beans in Peru, El Salvador, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Brazil and Panama. Messenger also participates in projects that contribute to their suppliers sustainability.
The Ibis side of the operation follows traditional French baking techniques. It specializes in croissants, but also sells pastries, danish, galettes and well-rested breads.
“We focus on long bench rests for our breads,” Matsch said.
Messenger Coffee plans to open its rooftop deck for events and private dinners, and the owners are seeking a license to sell beer and wine.
Matsch said that initially, the hours will be Wednesday through Sunday, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., but he expected they should be extended fairly quickly as business grows.
Besides Matsch, other partners are Chris Matsch, managing partner and head baker at Ibis; Nick Robertson; Kirsten Rex; Trevor Welch, and Kate Matsch.