New Irish pub concept pours into Raglan Road space

Raglan Road in the downtown Kansas City Power & Light District will be replaced with another Irish pub concept, this one run by a local restaurant group.

The Dubliner will take over the entire 10,000-square-foot space, opening March 5 — in time for the Big 12 Conference basketball tournament in Downtown, said Chris Sutton, president of KC Hopps Ltd.

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful space,” Sutton said. “They spent a ton of money on the space. (The Dubliner) will look very similar.”

KC Hopps will operate and manage the restaurant, owned by local ownership group The Dubliner LLC. Sutton said there’s crossover in ownership between KC Hopps and The Dubliner.

During the month of March, the restaurant will employ about 100 — a mix of full- and part-time workers to handle the basketball crowds. After that, employment will settle to about 70, Sutton said.

The menu will have some similarities to the other Irish pub that KC Hopps operates — O’Dowd’s Little Dublin on the Country Club Plaza . But there will be new items, too, Sutton said.

Nick Benjamin, executive director of the Power & Light District, said he’d been interested for a couple of years in working with KC Hopps.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to bring the best local operators into the district,” he said, adding that Johnny’s Tavern has been a “real success” for the restaurant and the district. That concept, which just added an Overland Park
location, is a carryover from Lawrence.

Benjamin said he expects The Dubliner to bring high energy, live music, and great food and drinks — like KC Hopps’ other restaurants — as well as local customers.

And that comes in what could be a banner year for the district, Benjamin said. Sales last year grew 10 percent from 2010, and this year promises a drama-filled Big 12 tournament — particularly with the University of Missouri leaving the conference — as well as an influx of visitors for the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

Great Irish Pubs KC Inc., the operator of Raglan Road, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August, reporting $8.8 million in liabilities and $2.1 million in assets. The restaurant, which closed that month, owed $378,629 in unpaid rent to the Power & Light District, according to the filing.

The landlord and tenant already had been at odds, with Power & Light District owner The Cordish Co. having gone to court in June to try to evict Raglan Road.

The restaurant had been announced with fanfare in late 2007, aiming for authenticity with an antique bar, flooring, furniture and other features shipped from Ireland. The owners predicted a $3 million cost. The concept had two other locations at the time: Downtown Disney in Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas.

Sutton said The Dubliner benefits from a “more attractive lease arrangement.” On top of that, KC Hopps is experienced in the local market.

“We have one highly successful Irish pub as it is,” he said.

Source: Suzanna Stagemeyer, bizjournals.com

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