With retail butcher shop The Local Pig and food truck Pigwich in the East Bottoms, a wholesale sausage business in the West Bottoms and a new restaurant in Kansas City’s historic bar district (The Local Pig – Westport), Chef Alex Pope is a busy man in many parts of Kansas City.

Now Pope can add the city’s most popular downtown entertainment district to his list, as he announced this week plans to take over the space currently housing Maker’s Mark Bourbon House & Lounge, a primo location inside the Power & Light District, and open a new “meatcentric” restaurant, Cleaver & Cork.

Pope will be the restaurant’s culinary director, responsible for the menu development and staffing the kitchen with a trained team of his choosing to execute his vision.

Joining Pope in overseeing Cleaver & Cork is Managing Partner Eric Willey, former general manager at bluestem. Willey worked with James Beard Award winner Chef Colby Garrelts and wife Megan Garrelts for three years before joining the team at Cleaver & Cork.

Running the kitchen is Pope’s trusted and talented team member, Chef Andrew Heimburger, who will serve as executive chef for Cleaver & Cork. Heimburger worked at Local Pig and The Local Pig – Westport, before being tapped by Pope to take this position.

“When Cordish approached me about this idea of creating a comfortable, casual, farm-to-table restaurant, I was definitely interested,” said Pope.

The menu for Cleaver & Cork is large, but it clearly represents Pope’s culinary interests. There is a Local Pig Sausage soup with potato, fontina and thyme. Charcuterie, pork belly, smoked trout and chicken livers are on the appetizer list, while the sandwiches and burgers will remind you of Pigwich. Pope’s entrees sound like they come straight from his butcher’s counter with a bone-in pork chop, dry-aged KC Strip, smoked ribeye and pork osso bucco. Chicken and seafood selections will also be offered.

Pope is planning to tap local sources for as much of the menu as he can.

“We will run a scratch kitchen -- everything will be prepped and cooked fresh daily by Andrew and his team,” he said.

Cordish Company will be doing a complete overhaul on the dining room. In place of the giant s-shaped booths and burnt orange-and-red accents that were distinctive to Maker’s Mark, Cordish and Pope are looking at a more natural palette of exposed brick, sage green walls and reclaimed wood. The front of the house staff will have new uniforms, too, to match Cleaver & Cork’s casual vibe.

Willey, who is also a sommelier, will be selecting the wines to put the cork in Cleaver & Cork. A solid beer list and a seasonally driven cocktail menu will be part of the bar offerings.

Maker’s Mark will close after New Year’s. Cleaver & Cork is expected to be open for dinner only, Monday-Saturday by the end of February 2015.

Cleaver & Cork, 1333 Walnut Street, Power & Light District, Kansas City, Missouri


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