Keep Coworking Relevant + 8 Must-Visit Kansas City Restaurants & Cafes

I’ve thought about starting a coworking space many times, because it is the brick and mortar equivalent of what I believe can change the world—a community of people with strongly aligned value systems around creation, receptivity and sharing.

But in 2014, I believe we’re quickly approaching the time when, “I opened a coworking space!” will no longer be newsworthy in the eyes of journalists. In a lot of cities, we’re already there.

As coworking spaces become more ubiquitous, grand openings are only worth a mention if there is a greater purpose behind it.

Beyond the infrastructure, why does coworking matter in 2014? How can we make it matter?

I’m facilitating a panel at this year’s Global Coworking Conference to talk about newer, more compelling narratives that coworking space owners can develop—not only to stay relevant to the media, but also to be more attractive and valuable to prospective members.

I’m looking for the bigger story—because I believe it’s not about the space; it’s about the people. It’s not about the free coffee (well, maybe that’s going too far); it’s about the community. And it’s about helping that community thrive in their work and lives—helping them live all of themselves in the world.

Also, as I am unable to not intertwine my pleasure and my purpose, I will be reporting on the absolute best food and drink I’ve experienced here. :)

Foods

Blanc Burgers: After I landed in KC late at night, I desperately needed to sink my teeth into a burger. Our Airbnb hosts recommended this insanely amazing place. Juicy, succulent and perfectly prepared, every bite is a symphony of flavors. I got the Kobe Burger, pairing it with a locally made tripel.

Their beef is 100% antibiotic- and hormone-free, from local Missouri cattle (this is ultra-important to me). The truffle fries come in a mini-shopping cart (a la “cart”!) and are a nice side to split with a companion, though they’re a bit too oily. But when you’re indulging, who cares?

Café Gratitude: Hailing from San Francisco, this vegan, organic, gluten-free, macrobiotic place is amaze-balls. I remember being unimpressed with some of their California locations, but in Kansas City, the chefs do it up right (I highly recommend the “I Am Whole” bowl with avocado). Plus, it’s a safe haven that plays music I love (Om Nama Shivaya and Teardrop played in the 10 mins I was there picking up takeout before running back to GCUC—which immediately grounded me in a way I desperately needed). When you need a break from BBQ, head here for some healthy nourishment.

The Farmhouse: The Farmhouse sources their food from a dozen local farmers from Kansas, Missouri and Iowa. And oh holy wow is it good. Their farmer salad is a must: do not I REPEAT DO NOT miss the polenta croutons. They are soft and not soft, crispy and not crispy, heaven and definitely heaven.

For an entreé, I had the preserved lemon and sorghum syrup glazed chicken with garlic grits and rosemary gravy (excellent). There’s even a vegan casserole on the menu that you can easily make gluten-free. Top quality, on the pricey side, and totally worth it.

Oklahoma Joe’s: Oh my God, stop. I don’t even want to recommend this place, since I felt so horrible after eating here. But it’s on Anthony Bourdain’s list of 13 Places to Eat Before You Die, so I did. I wonder why it’s #13; I wonder if it’s because after this, you feel like you might actually die, and so it’s a good thing you tried the other 12 first. But seriously: Go here, do NOT get the fries, as the sugar on them will only enhance your coma and you can get better fries elsewhere—order the ribs, the pulled pork and the brisket, as they are, truly, to die for.

Coffees

Filling Station: A great place for green/veggie juice (ask for no ice) and a raw vegan breakfast, if that’s what you’re looking for. Their espresso is from Broadway Roasting Company and their employees are super sweet (especially this guy). Your mom drinks decaf.

yourmomdrinksdecaf

Quay: Only one mile away from GCUC’s headquarters at the Airline History Museum, this is a beautiful space with quality locally roasted espresso. I was mildly unhappy with the taste of my 8 oz. almond milk latte and the lovely barista offered to make it again. Solid, quirky place with a back room for couch-talk away from the heavy, happy laptop usage up front.

The Roasterie: I was a bit confused when I walked around and around one of their locations and couldn’t find an opening, but when I finally got to their W. 27th St. location, I was happily surprised to find The Bean Hangar, full of air travel-play things like hats and complicated pilot seat belts! I tried their single-origin Sumatra Red Cherry, which was bright, blood-orangey, and stood up to 8 oz. of almond milk like a boss.

The space has a 10-top long wood table—great for impromptu coworking. Check in on Foursquare and get a 1.75-ounce bag of their coffee (it’s ground, though), and don’t miss their boarding pass sticker printing at the entrance—it’s cute, and you get 10% off a café drink.

Oddly Correct: A fitting name for the place: their coffee is phenomenal, and they offer neither milk alternatives nor sugar—which is fine, as I’m a walking Stuff White People Like, however I prefer to make my own bad decisions (and that’s how people learn to like really good things anyway—start with Smirnoff, end with Alsatian Riesling. Teach me to fish, but don’t take away all my food until I learn). A soft drizzle of raw sugar on my cappuccino to make the perfect créme to pair with my espresso isn’t possible here.

Oddly Correct sells leather goods, has seating so hip it hurts (read: isn’t comfortable), and kind of feels like that friend who’s always right about things—you always end up losing arguments to him, you respect him, but yet you get the feeling he’s maybe not the nicest person, and maybe that’s what matters more. Anyway. Go here for a pourover of the Kikai Cooperative, Bungoma Kenya (plum, black cherry, white wine, burnt orange-caramel), but get it to-go and enjoy it on a sunny walk down Westport.

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