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Nighthawk Lands at Hotel Kansas City

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2 minute read

(Editor’s note: This article was originally published Nov. 18, 2021)

By Kevin Collison

The new Hotel Kansas City, which has picked up great reviews for its design and support for local artists, is serving up more style by opening a music-focused cellar bar called Nighthawk later this month.

The space originally had been penciled for a concept called “El Gold” when the hotel opened at 13th and Baltimore in 2020, but that concept didn’t seem to gel, according to Scott Tipton, the hotel’s director of restaurants, bars and events.

“We had to opportunity to redo and make it what we wanted it to be,” he said. “El Gold felt disjointed and we wanted something more cohesive.”

So the hotel hired John O’Brien of Hammer Out Design, who’s created some of the city’s most appealing restaurant interiors including Brown & Loes, the Golden Ox and Rye.

The bar seats 160 people and incudes a stage for live music.

O’Brien completely redesigned the 160-seat space, leaving only murals of the Old West painted for the original concept, and has created a comfortable, clubby room with leather banquettes, glowing lights and a large stage.

Tipton said the plan is for Nighthawk to become a downtown gathering place for locals and hotel guests to enjoy both live music and DJs. The walls are decorated with posters of both Kansas City and national music legends.

Nighthawk is scheduled to formally open on Nov. 26, and will limit its hours to Friday and Saturday nights until more staff can be hired.

The schedule ultimately calls for DJs to perform on Friday and Sunday nights, with live music and Thursdays and Saturdays including blues, rock and funk. The music is expected to start at 9 p.m.

No reservations are required and most nights there won’t be a cover charge. The DJ booth also features a line-up of LPs.

A DJ booth featuring a pair of Altec A5 speakers and three turntables dominates the back of the bar.

“The sound of analog and vinyl is like nothing else,” Tipton said.

But Nighthawk is about more than music.

In keeping with the support for local businesses and artists, the saloon has commissioned Strange Days, a River Market microbrewer, to supply it with a Nighthawk Lite and Nighthawk Dark beers.

The Strange Day collaboration is in keeping with the ‘keep it simple’ focus of the bar offerings.

“As the room came to life, we started developing drinks and service, and what the vibe was going to be, not fancy but accessible,” Tipton said.

That extends to the drink menu, which will include “draft” and bottled cocktails, and a canned selzer, appropriately called “Night Claw.”

The food offerings were described as “easy and fun” and will include wings, dry, chili-rubbed ribs, pickled eggs and bar nuts.

“We want it to be a place to get a late bite and that’s comfortable and a familiar, nostalgic bar experience,” Tipton said.

The Nighthawk bar will feature custom beers from Strange Days and an assortment of low-key cocktails.

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