More than a few people told Andy Lock and Domhnall Molloy not to go anywhere near 1672 NE Chipman Road in Lee’s Summit.
The location of past failed restaurants at Summit Woods — 810 Zone and The Peachtree Restaurant among them — didn’t seem to bode well for a new concept.
But this restaurant duo is pretty smart. Savvy, most would say. And in fact, they rolled the dice on the building that had been sitting empty for more than a year-and-a-half before they ever had a menu concept.
And why not? Everything these guys have opened has delivered consistently top-notch and creative menu items, cocktails and service over the years.
Of course, opening a new joint — no matter if it is your first or your seventh — always comes with challenges. Still, July 11 is the opening date. And Lock and Molloy are pretty much the authorities on delivering an innovative restaurant concept on time.
“We’re the general contractors on this thing, so it’s a little more difficult than our typical opening,” Andy said, just off the phone with a reporter on a topic unrelated to his restaurant — his son, Drew, who is the starting quarterback at Mizzou. “A lot of things come with a building that has been sitting here empty for 18 months that sometimes aren’t easy, but we will get through it.”
Fire and sprinkler systems must be tinkered with. Heck, the sign may not arrive until July 10. But open they will. And when they do, it will be the seventh concept put together by Lock, Molloy and their restaurant team.
Those offerings include: Summit Grill (Lee’s Summit and Waldo) Boru Ramen, Lakewood Local, Summit Cellar & Spirits and downtown Lee’s Summit’s wildly popular Third Street Social. And coming later this fall, Summit Grill in the Northland.
Spoken like a tried and true restauranteur, Lock said they weighed all the options on Pearl Tavern’s location and know that success means putting out a dining experience that is consistently on point.
“You’re only as good as the last meal you served,” Lock said. “We are very confident with the location. People have said a thousand times this is a terrible location. I disagree. It’s not hard to get to, great visibility from the highway and ramp. The top façade of the restaurant acts as its own billboard.”
From building purchase to menu concept took around three months, Lock said.
“We spent a lot of time just thinking about all of it,” he said. “We did buy the building before we had the concept, which may or may not be smart, but that’s how this particular deal went down.
“Once we decided to occupy the building, it probably took us 90 days to get a good feel on what kind of concept would work here. We wanted a unique, approachable, diverse menu, from both a price point and offering standpoint.”
At Pearl Tavern, diners will be enthralled by fresh fish flown in daily from both coasts, the Gulf and the Great Lakes, as well as a visually stunning oyster bar greeting customers as soon as they walk in with mounds of ice and piles of oysters and shrimp.
“We will have a dedicated chef out there shucking oysters. It is a show and should be a show,” Lock said. “This is unique for Lee’s Summit and very few places in Kansas City do that.”
The menu will be around 70 percent seafood and offer a plethora of options, from king crab legs and ahi tuna to sea bass, with classic American fare for those not partaking in the fruit of the sea.
And why not? Lock and Molloy spent a decade working at a Kansas City seafood staple, McCormick and Schmick's on the Plaza, as general manager and executive chef, respectively, before they went on to regional work with the company.
The duo has stacked the odds heavily in their favor for the new place, leaning on the company’s “culinary brain trust,” Po Wang, on much of the menu creation, bringing over their “opening guy” Jeff O’Brien as the general manager and, in a massive move, hiring Kent Long as their executive chef. Up until a few months ago, Long was executive chef at McCormick’s.
Of course, as he builds his restaurant empire, Lock has to stay somewhat grounded, following the successful careers of his athlete kids as Drew takes the field this fall under the national spotlight as a potential NFL pick and daughter, Claire, begins her Division I basketball career at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“Yeah, things are busy,” Lock deadpans. “But it’s the good kind of busy.”
Editor's Note: John Beaudoin is a Lee's Summit resident and award winning writer and former newspaper publisher in the Lee's Summit community. Views and opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily reflect those of Link 2 Lee's Summit, it's employees or any other guest contributors.