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Despite NFL Draft crowds, dining out in Kansas City restaurants is still an option — just be patient

A long ling of people stand outside a red, metal building. There are picnic tables outside and the sign on the building reads "Slap's BBQ."
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Customers line up outside Slap's BBQ in Kansas City, Kansas, on Friday, the second day of the NFL Draft.

Looking for a quick bite downtown during the NFL Draft? Some of your favorite places may be crowded.

Downtown streets are closed to traffic and throngs of football fans, in town to see the NFL Draft, are spilling into local restaurants. Many have been preparing for months.

With the influx of VIP visitors and football franchises from around the country, some restaurateurs are cashing in on the opportunity to sell out their entire establishment, even if it sometimes limits their ability to serve the public.

Christina Corvino, owner, general manager and sommelier of the Corvino Supper Club and Tasting Room says that they held several private events earlier in the week but during Draft nights, they chose not to host large parties so they could welcome fans to a relaxing dinner.

“We're thrilled to be in the Crossroads for this exciting week,” Christina Corvino says. “Visa bought-out our restaurant on Tuesday night for a VIP dinner with guest speaker Tony Gonzalez” and Wednesday night’s private guests included the NFL chief marketing officer and comedian Adam Waheed.

City Barrel Brewery and Kitchen in the Crossroads was also among the restaurants closed to the public on certain nights. Their espresso bacon burgers and house crafted beer was enough to attract the Los Angeles Chargers’ kickoff event on Wednesday, which included some 60 people from the Chargers' organization. Executive Chef and General Manager Benjamin Wood says they’ll be entertaining San Diego superfans and VIP all weekend.

“We were thrilled to be able to really show people from out of town and how much Kansas City is welcoming,” Wood says. “It's been a great experience in all honesty.”

City Barrel has plans for a parking lot party Friday afternoon that’s open to the public.

For regular Kansas City diners who want to grab a quick bite downtown despite the crowds, Wood urged them to be patient.

“Everybody's working real hard this weekend and even doing extra things that they normally wouldn't be doing,” Wood says. “Have fun, hang out, enjoy friends, and fellowship and that kind of stuff, and just be kind to everybody.”

The Draft is one of the largest sporting events in the city’s history. Officials expected visitors to number in the hundreds of thousands.

In the Crossroads, Grinder’s owner Stretch says they’re ready for whatever the event brings. They’ve stocked up with plenty of extra food and alcohol.

Stretch says the crowds that flooded into downtown for the World Series and Super Bowl Parades have prepared them for what to expect.

"You know, it's an apocalypse of chaos downtown and we're going to try to feed as many people, and get as much alcohol in a safe environment,” Stretch says. “As long as everybody maintains and no one gets so crazy they got to shut it down, we're going to be able to handle the crowds."

“We want everybody to feel comfortable when they come to Kansas City to show that we have big hearts,” Stretch says. “We're a Midwestern town with big ideas and we want everybody to be safe out there.”

King G is a bar and deli in the Crossroads. Kitchen manager Zac Sachs describes it as an elevated neighborhood bar — always open late.

While other restaurants have been taken over by VIP events, King G is operating on a first come, first served basis.

“We typically look busier than we actually are, so just come on in,” Sachs says.

Julie Denesha is the arts reporter for KCUR. Contact her at julie@kcur.org.
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