First-ever Mission Restaurant Week aims to help mom-and-pop eateries weather pandemic

Mission Restaurant Week

Several restaurant owners like Sushi Karma's Cyrus Riahi, above, are participating in the first-ever Mission Restaurant Week from March 1 to March 7.

The first-ever Mission Restaurant Week is aiming to support the city’s local restaurants after a challenging 2020, coordinators say.

Lulu’s Boutique owner Jennifer Pugh and Farm Bureau insurance agent TJ Roberts, president and vice president of Mission Business District, respectively, developed the restaurant week concept as a way to support local eateries during COVID-19.

Mission’s event is modeled after the larger Kansas City Restaurant Week, which happens each January at hundreds of restaurants and bars around the metro.

Roberts said this inaugural event will focus on helping mom-and-pop shops in Mission stay afloat at at time when vaccine distribution is picking up and an end to pandemic restrictions becomes more foreseeable. Philanthropic efforts will be expanded in future events, too.

With so much already on restaurant owners’ plates, Roberts said he and Pugh hope people come out and support local businesses and experience Mission.

“Mission is a very unique place in Kansas City, it’s like a small town feel in a big city,” Roberts said. “We want to try to capture a lot of the greatness in some of these small businesses.”

Energizing Mission manager makes shake
Energizing Mission, a protein shake and tea bar on Johnson Drive, is one of several local businesses participating in Mission Restaurant Week. Above, manager Luke Hoffman prepares a shake for a customer.

‘A little hidden gem’

Mission Restaurant Week will highlight restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries in what Pugh calls “a little hidden gem” of the Kansas City region.

Cyrus Riahi, owner of Sushi Karma at 5820 Johnson Drive, one of the 15 business owners participating — and is one of several who opened their new ventures right before COVID-19 shutdowns ensued last year.

Sushi Karma was able to switch to delivery and carryout options, and Mission customers didn’t let Riahi down, he said.

Now, Riahi said he hopes the public will discover “some really cool stuff” around Mission.

“This is a fun area in Johnson County,” Riahi said. “We have a pizza place there, an Asian restaurant here, Thai down the street. There’s a lot of stuff around here, so I hope people will come in and try some new stuff in the area, and see what Mission has to offer.”

Other businesses, like protein shake and tea bar Energizing Mission, just across the street from Sushi Karma, are excited about the buzz itself.

“We just hope it’ll bring in some new customers, and we hope the customers get a lot out of it,” Energizing Mission Manager Luke Hoffman said.

Everardo “Lalo” Alvarez’s (above) Mexican restaurant, The Corner Lalo’s Kitchen, is also participating in Mission Restaurant Week. File photo.

Participating eateries

The week-long event kicks off Monday, March 1.

Most of the participating businesses are clustered on or near Johnson Drive between Roe and Metcalf. The eateries plan to offer specials, though details on restaurant specials are not yet available.

That information will be updated on either Mission Business District’s Facebook page or the Mission Restaurant Week Facebook event page.

Below is a list of the participating businesses:

  • Urban Prairie Coffee
  • Thai Orchid
  • Topper’s (Mission location only)
  • Brian’s Bakery
  • Ad Astra Market
  • Energizing Mission
  • Longboards (Mission location only)
  • Rock Creek Brewing Co.
  • Salsa Grill
  • The Corner Lalo’s Kitchen
  • Foggi Ice Cream
  • Estrella Azul
  • Sushi Karma
  • The Bar (Mission location only)

Members of the public who choose to participate in Mission Restaurant Week are asked to respect the COVID-19 safety guidelines implemented by each business — whether that be take-out only options or social distancing for dine-in options, Roberts said.

He and Pugh hope to turn Mission Restaurant Week into an annual event, with the hope to give back in the future.

“Johnson Drive for a lot of people is kind of a thoroughfare,” Pugh said. “It’s not something I think a lot of people have explored and discovered some of the amazing places down there.”