NFL Draft serves up big opportunity for local restaurants

The NFL Draft is coming up, and restaurants in the Kansas City area are getting ready for it. They're booking private dining rooms and getting requests for catering.

NFL Draft serves up big opportunity for local restaurants

100-fifty briskets; 2,000-3,000 pounds of pork shoulders; 20 cases or more of cucumbers; and 8 to 9 cases of green cabbage. This is only a small part of what Q39, a barbecue restaurant in New York City, will need for the NFL Draft.

Q39 is one of 20 local restaurants selected to be vendors for the NFL Draft at Union Station Kansas City. Q39 Executive chef Philip Thompson stated that the NFL expected daily attendance between 20,000 and 25,000 people. Vendors were told to be prepared to serve 1,000 people daily.

He said, 'We are essentially running a 3rd restaurant for three full days.

Local restaurants are rewarded in a way that goes beyond the vendors. Restaurants in the area have already seen an increase in both regular table reservations and private parties during the Draft week, and they are inundated by catering requests. It's not only a chance to earn extra money.

Kim Halloran is the president of the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association and managing partner at The Capital Grille, Kansas City. Kansas City is known for its vibrant food scene. This is a great way to expose us. We haven't really been able show off that food scene for many years. We want people to try multiple places, talk about it online and get excited about our product because it is pretty awesome.

Fox and Pearl is less than one mile from Union Station and is expecting to be at capacity this weekend. Walk-ins are not expected. The restaurant has a capacity of 150-200 people, including the patio. Co-owner Kristine Hulll confirmed that two of the restaurant's private dining rooms with seating for 24 to 45 people are completely booked. Fox and Pearl’s event director has also been receiving numerous requests for catering at off-site venues.

Since the end of January it has been a constant: "Can you do this? She said. All of our events that week were related to the Draft.

The events can range from small gatherings up to hundreds of people. She said that catering events and in-person meals could require preparing twice or three times the normal amount of food.

The expense accounts of others will also be used to entertain and feed the guests. This will result in higher guest check averages. Fox and Pearl is stocking up extra wine and ingredients to make entrees.

Halloran, from GKCRA, said: 'There is a lot to entertain, and that means people are willing to spend a bit more money and make sure their guests have fun.

Thompson stated that Q39 anticipates its two restaurants, located in Overland Park's Midtown and Kansas City’s Midtown, to be 50% busier during the week and 25% busier at the weekend. Bookings for groups are already being made from Thursday to Saturday. Q39 has so many catering requests that it is now turning down some.

Q39 will also cater a VIP section of 500 people for Kelce Jam on Friday night, a music event created by Kansas City Chiefs tight-end Travis Kelce.

We were in negotiation with the Draft when Kelce Jam appeared, and we looked at eachother like, "There's no possible way we could say no to this." Thompson said that if Travis Kelce throws a party everyone will want to attend.

These are both once-in a lifetime opportunities.

Thompson said that as soon as he asked, "Hey, would you like to help us with the Draft?" you could see everyone's faces light up. One of my cooks said, "I'm not into football but I want to come down and help with the Draft because I might never get this chance again."

Q39 began preparing for the NFL Draft long before it was selected as a vendor mid-March. Thompson explained that it was necessary to act as if the company had already been awarded a contract because there were so many moving pieces. The company hired more staff and began contacting vendors months ago to secure additional equipment and supplies. This included its certified-Angus Brisket that is wet aged for 60 days. The pop-up's biggest challenge is to ensure that it delivers the same high quality as Q39 restaurants. That is why they are bringing portable smokehouses on site.

He said, 'This weekend is like the Fourth of July combined with Super Bowl for three days. We won't plan on sleeping too much.