It's no accident that the first thing you notice when you walk inside the Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange is the refurbished bar, with its dark wood backdrop and glass shelves for cocktail ingredients.
This is a restaurant that aims to pair cocktails with the menu in a careful and deliberate fashion, much as partners Ryan Maybee and Howard Hanna intend to complement each other's strengths. Maybee will oversee the drink menu and bar operations, while executive chef Hanna has designed a menu that focuses on "food you could eat every day."
The former 1924 Main space has been changed subtly. The walls have gone from maroon to green and hanging pendant lights have brightened up the main dining room, which seats 60 people. A soffit built out over the open kitchen is a smart touch, keeping the chefs visible but hiding the back of the house. The row of mirrors from the southside wall is gone. Instead, the walls are adorned with ephemera reflecting Maybee's sensibility.
"We know this building is a part of Kansas City history and we wanted to celebrate that," said Maybee, of the space which originally opened in 1915 as the Rieger Hotel.
The attached dining room, with seating for an additional 40 people, has an elaborate wall-length mural, painted by local artist Ryan Haralson, depicting the J. Rieger and Co. Distributors' logo. A series of 16-foot cypress tables made from reclaimed barn wood will either be used for private events or community dining.
"We want to be a neighborhood place because that's what makes a restaurant successful," says Maybee.