After celebrating five years of locally brewed beer and barbecue at their first concept, Smoke Brewing Co., married couple Lanni and Josh Edwards and his father, Jeff Edwards, are preparing to open their second restaurant concept just a few doors down.
Located in the former Peanut location in historic downtown Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Calaveras – which translates to “skull” from Spanish – will be a new, sophisticated Mexican restaurant and bar. At 5,000 square feet, the restaurant will seat 200 people, including 45 at the bar, with a garage door that opens onto an outdoor patio that will have its own bar offering a fine selection of frozen drinks that can be enjoyed on the patio or taken to-go.
The Edwards purchased the building in early 2020 and have spent the last two years working on transforming it from a former sports bar and grill to an elegant and, arguably, splashy Mexican restaurant and bar.
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“I wanted to create a real date night spot in downtown Lee’s Summit, you know, a place where a couple could get dressed up and go out for a nice dinner,” Lanni tells Feast. “The restaurant is black and white with silver accents. I’ve sourced dishware that is black and white with a skull pattern to tie into the theme and name of the restaurant, and we are using a dramatic black and white marble on the bar.”
The herringbone mirrored wall tiles used behind the bar help reflect the sparkle from a dozen large glass chandeliers hanging overhead. All booths have been recovered using sparkly silver fabric to match the black- and silver-flecked wallpaper, but there will be a few pops of color. It will be a dramatic but fun and lively space – and even the basement might hold a surprise by the time they are done with the remodel.
“The building does have a basement, and we are thinking we eventually want to make it our private room where we might host 10 to 12 people for high-end mezcal tastings with food pairings to match,” Lanni says. “That will also give chef the opportunity to do some fun pairing menus.”
The executive chef for Calaveras is 30-year-old Josh Laufketter, whose resume includes serving as sous chef at Bluestem. He said in a press release that he and his team will take an authentic approach to dishes from different regions of Mexico using a refined edge.
“We will highlight traditional Mexican ingredients and use French techniques to prepare them,” he said. “We’ll serve tacos, birrias, ceviche, among other favorites, and we will be pairing seasonal proteins and vegetables with a variety of scratch sauces made in-house, including several different kinds of mole.”
The bar director for Calaveras is local bartending talent Bryan Arri, who has worked at Manifesto, The Monarch Bar, Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room and Rye. His bar program will feature sugar cane and agave-focused cocktails, using spirits from South America and the Caribbean.
“I want to take a fun and playful approach to our cocktails here, with a lot of focus on presenting cocktails indicative of where they come from,” Bryan said in the release.
The family hopes to get the restaurant open by June if everything goes according to plan, and if it doesn’t, then they are asking folks to wait just a little longer for Calaveras to open. They promise it will be worth the wait.
“The vision was to create something out of the ordinary for a Mexican restaurant and for Lee’s Summit,” Lanni says. “The design complication was taking a century-old building and creating a space that was sexy, playful and full of energy while maintaining the historic shell. Months were spent hand-selecting everything from tile, furnishings, lighting and dishes. It is going to be a knockout.”
Calaveras, 219 S.E. Main St., Lee’s Summit, Missouri, facebook.com/calaverasls (coming soon)