Downtown | AREA Real Estate Advisors

Lightwell’s Strang Chef Collective Announces First Chef

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Strang Chef Collective, a culinary offering currently under construction inside Kansas City’s lightwell office tower, has chosen its first chef.  Nicole Shute, a native of Kansas City, will open Verde, a restaurant concept featuring items influenced by her love of Latin American and Spanish cuisine. “My goal is to design culinary experiences that incorporate fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices into every dish,” Shute said in a release.

Shute has been in the restaurant industry for more than 15 years, most recently focusing on scratch-based cooking as chef de cuisine at the Downtown Marriott. Strang Hall in Overland Park will be hosting a five-course meal to introduce Shute and Verde to the public.

Strang Chef Collective plans to open in November, after supply chain issues have delayed the opening multiple times. Similar to Strang Hall in Downtown Overland Park, the lightwell collective will feature two chef-driven concepts and a full-service bar. They plan to announce the second chef in the next few weeks.

To read more, click here to see the Kansas City Business Journal’s piece. More details on the second chef and opening to come.

For lightwell leasing, click here for leasing package, watch our video, or contact Hank Simpson, Sean Craven or Tim Schaffer.

Jason’s Deli Moves Across The Street to Town Pavilion

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Jason’s Deli is making a move across Main Street in downtown Kansas City, into its new home at Town Pavilion. Town Pavilion just completed a $5 million lobby renovation. The family-owned business will be occupying 3,700 SF accessible from the lobby and will have an entrance and outdoor dining area on Petticoat Lane. Their previous location at the recently renovated lightwell office tower at 1100 Main Street, will be occupied by a new food hall concept from Menlo Food Labs.

AREA Real Estate Advisors worked with the company to find a location in the same neighborhood. “We know how beloved Jason’s was to the people in our building and so we took an active role in helping them find a location in the same neighborhood that would continue to serve lightwell tenants and the downtown community,” said AREA’s founder, Tim Schaffer.

The new location is anticipating a spring opening and launching to-go and delivery operations beginning next month. Jason’s Deli plans to vacate its current space at the end of December.

AREA’s project manager, Josh Scott, is helping Jason’s Deli with the move and the buildout of the new space as well as lightwell’s new food hall.

Click here for CityScene’s article on the move of Jason’s Deli.

Manaia Collective Restaurant Group

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Manaia Collective, a new restaurant group from Chef Howard Hanna, will open its two initial concepts, Small Axe city diner & Afi natural wine bar at City Club Apartments at 20th & Main Street in the Crossroads.  Construction is well on its way and the restaurants are targeting a late spring 2022 opening.

Small Axe, located at the corner of 20th & Main, is a progressive city diner for everyone. The menu will offer a modern, imaginative take on classic diner fare, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The space is bright and buzzy, lively and upbeat, and a great meeting place.  Small Axe will feature a rooftop and street level patio, which will allow for pop-up events before the formal opening.


Afi, located at 1989 Main Street, is a natural wine bar with a worldview. Afi’s menu explores indigenous ingredients and techniques from North America, Africa, Asia and Latin America, and pairing those dishes with sustainable and natural wines. Open fire cooking on their hearth oven is the common ingredient. Their approach to food is one with a deep respect and a quest for learning. Afi will also feature a rooftop and street-level patio.



The Manaia Collective is a group that is passionate about the hospitality industry and its opportunity to connect with the community. Unfortunately, the industry has been broken due to the pandemic, which brought a lack of sustainability for business owners, as well as poor quality of life for employees.  Manaia Collective was formed to change the status quo. The group believes every hospitality worker deserves living wages, healthcare benefits, work/life balance, opportunities for advancement, and an opportunity to have a real career in the hospitality industry.  The group’s new hospitality model focuses on these values:

     – Quality of Life
     – A Path for Growth
     – Sustainability in All Areas
     – Healthy Environments
     – Emphasis on Community

Visit their website to learn more about Manaia Collective, and for an opportunity to invest in the mission, click here.

AREA’s Tiffany Ruzicka handled the leasing for both restaurant transactions and Josh Scott is the Project Manager on the build out of both spaces.

Click here for MetroWire Media’s article on Manaia Collective.

Click here for The Kansas City Star’s article on Manaia Collective.

Click here for the Kansas City Business Journal’s article on Manaia Collective.

3 Main Takeaways from KC’s Downtown Office Summit

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Kansas City’s fifth-annual Downtown KC Office Summit was held this week, where local and national retail experts gathered with an overall confidence that Downtown is strong and  promising growth ahead.

Speakers at the summit, held at The Gallery event space in Kansas City Power & Light District, highlighted new and future projects as well as local and national trends. Here are three major takeaways from the event.

The wind is at the office market’s back. 

Office leasing is on track nationwide to recover by 3Q of 2022, with rent growth to follow in 2023. Revathi Greenwood, global head of data and insights for Cushman & Wakefield in Washington, cites technology, health care, insurance and finance industries as drivers for this recovery.

New office projects with quality, safe, amenitized infrastructures are attracting talent, creating a place where they can socialize and be fun as well as work and be creative. Companies have a desire for strategic, high-end downtown locations with quality spaces and amenities. There are several large office developments in progress as well as unique office conversions, such as Grand Place and Corrigan Station. We’ve also seen recent office renovations at 2345 Grand, Town Pavilion and lightwell buildings.

Projects continue coming down the pike.

Large developments on Kansas City’s horizon include the Kansas City International Airport’s new $1.5 billion terminal (March 2023), The Kansas City Current’s (NWSL) $70 million, 11,000-seat stadium at the Berkley Riverfront (est. 2024 opening), and the 3.5-mile southern extension of the streetcar line to the University of Missouri-Kansas City along with a half-mile riverfront service (early 2025).

Another large project is South Loop Link, the proposed 4-block public park deck above Interstate 670, that cuts through downtown between the CBD & Crossroads Art District. The Downtown Council is applying for a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, matched with funds from local sources to pursue the project.

Downtown’s population could continue to balloon.

The Kansas City region ranks eighth among 38 major metro areas for migration gains since the onset of the pandemic. The city’s downtown population has also increased from less than 10,000 residents 15 years ago to more than 32,000, on track to increase past 36,000 by 2025. Kansas City has a real opportunity to capitalize on the post-pandemic relocation with its geography, quality of life, cost of living, educated workforce and status as a national transportation hub.

To read the Kansas City Business Journal’s full recap of the Office Summit, click here.

To contact one of AREA’s office experts for more information on the office market and office leasing/sales, click here.

Menlo Food Lab Will Open Strang Chef Collective at lightwell

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Menlo Food Labs will bring a “one-of-a-kind culinary experience” to the lightwell office tower at 11th & Main downtown next spring. Menlo Food Labs is the parent company to Strang Hall food hall in Downtown Overland Park.  Called the Strang Chef Collective at lightwell, the space will include two chef-driven restaurant concepts offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner and will include coffee, tea, juice and shakes as well as a full-service bar. It will have a casual modern feel with communal seating, including outdoor dining on Main Street.

“The chef collective concept is a great fit for lightwell,” said Tim Schaffer, AREA Real Estate Advisors president. “The building is very entrepreneurial and the addition of curated, chef-driven food will really add to the next-generation amenities that lightwell already offers.”

Strang Chef Collective will span 4,805 SF on the ground floor of the building, formerly Jason’s Deli. AREA worked with Jason’s Deli to keep them close by, and they will open across the street at Town Pavilion in early 2022.  Made in KC will also be opening on the ground floor of lightwell early next year, in the former Starbucks space.

This will be Menlo’s second Kansas City location, with plans to grow across the country.

For more on Strang Chef Collective at lightwell, click here for the Kansas City Business Journal’s feature and here for a piece from Startland News.

AREA handles the leasing as well as the property management for lightwell office tower. For leasing information, click here.