Tribe Owner Opens ‘Block 15’ Sports Bar in River Market

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Block 15 Tavern & Exchange will be located in the basement level of the historic Ebenezer building at 311 Delaware.

(Editor’s note: The article originally was published May 26, 2022. Block 15 Tavern and Exchange is now open)

By Kevin Collison

One of the founder’s of Tribe, the popular River Market international street food place, has opened a sports bar across the street at 311 Delaware with hopes to resolve a minor identity crisis at the same time.

“I’ve always battled with Tribe in terms of is it a bar or a restaurant?” Sam Hagan said.

“There are so many additional people on the street and surrounding areas since we opened (in 2018) and we just want a good bar for them to go to.”

The new Block 15 Tavern and Exchange is strictly a sports bar with no kitchen–although Hagan plans to have a food truck parked next to his new place’s patio to cover that angle.

It’s located in a 3,000 square-foot basement space in the historic Ebenezer building that opened in 1890. The name comes from the designation given to the block where some of the oldest buildings in downtown Kansas City are located.

Hagan said he contemplated a sports bar in the River Market for two years. He once ran a similar place in Westport called Dempsey’s Burger Pub.

“My m.o. has been making people feel they’re important,” he said.

The place features 13 strategically placed televisions to watch the Chiefs, Royals, Sporting KC and Current, and college games. Hagan is a KU grad so Jayhawk basketball and football games also are must-see TV.

The interior features exposed brick and limestone.

Furnishings include booths made from recycled church pews. The rectangular bar also has 20 seats on its three sides, and there’s a fenced outdoor patio up the back steps looking over the small park in the heart of the River Market.

The initial plan called for Block 15 to be open Thursdays through Sundays. Thursday and Friday hours are 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., Saturday, noon to 1 a.m., and Sunday, noon to 10 p.m. A happy hour is planned each day from 4- to 8 p.m.

Craig Slawson, the owner of the building, said the hours are intended to help the place fit  in with the overall neighborhood.

“We’re super excited to have this curated activity on Delaware,” he said. “We’re super picky about who we want on the street.”

Hagan is planning to shift the tap beer selection from Tribe to the new place, and then begin offering all local craft beers at Tribe.

As for Tribe, he said the restaurant is doing well.

“We had all the Covid challenges and weathered the storm and kept rolling,” Hagan said. “Having a huge patio helped.”

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