Riley Drive Entertainment has planted deep roots in the new Lenexa City Center, and now they are ready to grow their group of restaurant concepts before the end of this year.

The Lenexa-based hospitality and restaurant development group owns and operates three Saints Pub + Patio locations in Kansas City and Ignite Wood Fire Grill. Now, the group is getting ready to open two new restaurant concepts: Jo & Hash and Taco Hangover, which are under construction with plans to open this year on the City Center campus. A much larger $15 million entertainment complex, The Yard, is on track to open in the Spring of 2021.

Home to the Lenexa Public Market, Lenexa City Center is a 69-acre mixed-use development located on the west side of I-435 and 87th Street Parkway. The campus is part of a larger 20-year development dream the City of Lenexa set in motion years ago to create a new home for the civic campus. Plans include a new city hall, library and a recreational center, in addition to creating opportunities for developers to build new mixed-use buildings for people to live, work and walk to all of the amenities the new Lenexa City Center campus will ultimately provide once it is complete.

Jo & Hash is the next new restaurant concept that Riley Drive will open in August, located on the first floor of the Central Green project on the southwest corner of West 87th Street Parkway and Renner Boulevard. With 175 seats indoor and out, which includes a patio that seats 60, the space will also have a private meeting room that seats 20. The breakfast- and lunch-only spot will have an all-white, modern farmhouse and French country look, perfect for daytime dining.

“We will be offering traditional breakfast items like eggs, bacon, hash, biscuits and gravy and chicken and waffles, along with some lighter things,” says Bradley Gilmore, corporate chef for Riley Drive Entertainment. “I’ve been working on a whole section of the menu that will be dedicated to specialty pancakes we are calling ‘Peace, Love and Pancakes,’ in fun flavors like a pineapple upside-down pancake.”

For lunch, guests can expect soups, salads, sandwiches and some blue plate specials like meatloaf and fried chicken with all the sides. Coffee and cocktails will be served all day with Prosecco on tap. Gilmore also says that he may use this spot to host a series of pop-up dinners. “Since the space will be closed in the evenings, we may rent it out for evening events or host our own pop-up dinners,” he says.

Taco Hangover is also currently under construction across the street from the Riley Drive corporate office and Ignite Wood Fired Grill, and is expected to open in November. A high energy Mexican cantina, this will be the third location of Taco Hangover for Riley Drive, which also operates locations in Iowa.

“This is not an expensive high-end Mexican restaurant; Taco Hangover is an affordable, fun, lively and upbeat concept with a rocking outdoor patio and colorful graffiti murals on the walls,” says Gilmore. Even now, visual evidence of the rounded patio on the lower level of this building can be seen from the street as the space continues its buildout. Soon, diners will be sitting on that patio around a glowing firepit, Margaritas in hand.

A hopping tequila bar is planned, serving Mules, Micheladas and Margaritas, available on tap in sizes from 16 ounces to 64 ounces. The core of the menu is tacos filled everything imaginable, like Kansas City-style burnt ends, al pastor and portabella al pastor, pollo asado, beer can chicken, beer-battered cod, blackened shrimp or plain ground beef all served in your choice of white corn or a mix of corn and flour tortillas.

One of Gilmore's favorite dishes is the nine-layer dip appetizer. Fashioned after the popular summer picnic dish, seven-layer dip, this one has refried pinto beans, enchilada verde sauce, Monterey jack cheese, chorizo, queso, lettuce, pico de gallo, queso fresco and tortilla chips. “I wanted something with some retro appeal on the menu, and our version of this traditional dish delivers nostalgia right to the table,” says Gilmore.

Gilmore and his team of chefs have also recently reworked the entire food menu at both Ignite Wood Fired Gill and Saints Pub + Patio. “At Ignite, we’ve added more small plates and woven more global flavors throughout the menu, and at Saints, we took a good look at what quality bar food should look and taste like, and we reinvented the entire menu using quality ingredients and making everything from scratch in-house, and you can definitely taste the difference,” he says. 

The owners of Riley Drive Entertainment, Marc Mundt and Scott Anderson, operate multiple restaurants and bars in Kansas City, Des Moines and Omaha under their company umbrella that they started in 2005. Anderson, a lawyer, and Mundt will serve as the developers for The Yard using Riley Drive’s companion company, CRQ Development. They'll work with other partners on this new mixed-use, "work and play" concept, which they found inspiration for while traveling to Arizona and the west coast.

The business side of The Yard includes a 5-story L-shaped office building that will offer over 33,000 square feet of office space with plenty of parking available in their two level parking garage. The public will party on the lower level featuring a large outdoor courtyard and event space that will offer pickleball courts, fire pits, yard game spaces, room for outdoor concerts and large outdoor television screens to watch the game.

There will be plenty of indoor and outdoor seating including a yet-to-be-named restaurant concept and rooftop bar. “All of that will be located on less than two acres at the corner of 87th Street and Renner Boulevard, right next door to what will be home to The Lofts at City Center, a brand-new luxury apartment complex,” Gilmore says.

The City of Lenexa has invested in their future on this parcel of land just west of I-435 off 87th Street, and companies like Riley Drive Entertainment are showing they too are invested in making this dream a reality.   

Riley Drive Entertainment, rileydrive.com

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