In a city best known for its barbecue, restauranteurs Timothy Harris and Marcus Easy purposely left this signature dish off the menu of their new Kansas City, Missouri, establishment Privēe Restaurant + Lounge.
Housed in a grand 9,000-square-foot space, the popular destination combines a fine dining experience with the ambiance of an upscale lounge. It’s a restaurant model usually found in larger city markets like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Houston…and now Kansas City, thanks to the duo’s vision.
With backgrounds in real estate and healthcare IT, Kansas City-born Harris and New York City native Easy first met in 2016 while collaborating on a work project. And though both eventually went on to tackle other corporate and entrepreneurial ventures, the businessmen kept in touch and reconnected in 2022 to combine their love for food with the idea of creating a unique restaurant concept for Kansas City.
Something New For Kansas City
The background behind the naming of Privēe Restaurant + Lounge was inspired, in part, by Harris’ late grandmother, Lester Patterson, who owned her own catering company and had dreams of opening a restaurant.
“She was always encouraging myself, my siblings, my cousins, our family to stay knowledgeable about different cultures, books,” says Harris, who is proud to honor her legacy with the opening of Privēe.
“So [the word] privy, by definition, is to ‘stay in the know,’ continues the restauranteur. “And because Kansas City has not been able to experience this type of dining concept, this is us keeping Kansas City ‘in the know.’”
There’s a lot for Privēe Restaurant + Lounge patrons to discover when visiting the Crossroads Arts District establishment. “We have the downstairs dining area and our patio,” describes Harris. “And upstairs we have the Jade Room ‘lounge’ that’s used for dining, too, but it’s a members-only space.”
The co-owner shares that the Privēe Black Card membership unlocks a host of extras ranging from accessing the private one-of-a-kind “Chef Experience” room (a four-hour dining experience), special birthday and anniversary perks, invitations to new menu tastings and cocktail premiers as well as premium valet parking, among other benefits. Harris shares membership tiers range from $250 (for a monthly membership) to $1500 (for an annual fee).
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In addition, a rotating roster of live music, a DJ and cabaret-style entertainment make for a truly curated ambiance for diners at Privēe Restaurant + Lounge. “That’s all part of our unique experience—you never know what you’re going to walk into,” says Harris about the dinner-focused venue open Wednesday to Sunday (with brunch offerings available on the weekends).
Why Kansas City BBQ Isn’t On This Mouthwatering Menu
But beyond the entertainment and gorgeous restaurant setting featuring dark woods, plush seating and sexy lighting, there’s the menu crafted by executive chef Jonathan Wilson (a.k.a. Chef Jon), which turns the spotlight on steaks and seafood offerings. Bone-in prime ribeye steak, KC strip steak, gold tomahawk prime steak (served with truffle butter) compete for the appetite with Alaskan king crab legs (broiled Cajun butter style), jerked teriyaki salmon (with pineapple vodka salsa) and the epic seafood tower lover (jumbo shrimp, fresh oysters, Maine lobster).
Restauranteur Harris’ personal menu picks, “My favorite thing on the menu, by far, is the fresh catch fish. Right now, we’re doing a whole fish bronzino with a special sauce that Chef Jon made. I’ll have that with a side of charred broccolini and the lobster mac & cheese—and with that, you get a full tail [of lobster].”
But what about the famous KC barbecue? “We do not have barbecue on the menu. We actually did that on purpose because Kansas City is known for barbecue. We wanted to stay away from that so we didn’t feel like we were competing with the barbecue scene,” divulges the Privēe co-owner.
The Place For Kansas City Power Players
With all that this new hotspot has to offer, it’s no wonder the establishment is attracting the city’s power players, including Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, who held his birthday party at Privēe. “It’s very diverse, professional,” notes Harris when asked to describe the clientele who socialize and enjoy Privēe’s craft cocktails and premium spirits during the restaurant’s weekly “Happy Hour.”
He continues, “We do have a dress code [because] we want to curate a unique experience…a place where professionals can feel safe, feel comfortable and where they can dress up, be with friends and let their hair down a little bit,” says Harris.
Harris and co-owner Easy acknowledge business has been very good since their grand opening this past August. “We’re excited for the holiday season coming up to see how the city continues to support us as we continue to take our lessons learned and serve the city as best we can,” says Harris.
Plans For Privēe Beyond Kansas City
As for future plans, Harris makes us privy to some business goals. “We are leasing now, but we are in the process of purchasing our actual building. Once we do purchase and get more established, we’ll be moving on to our second location and taking Privēe maybe to a five-city type of establishment,” he says.
Harris notes they’re eyeing a possible future location in the Carolinas. “[Co-owner] Marcus spent time and went to school in North Carolina. He would love to take [Privēe] back there. So that’s what we’re targeting right now.”
And if the great reception received for their restaurant concept in Kansas City is any indicator, those future plans may happen sooner rather than later.
Privēe Restaurant + Lounge is located at 700 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Missouri 64108.