The Past, Present, and Future of Restaurants in KC

Caitlin Corcoran, James Chang, Cheetie Kumar, Liz Cook
Restaurant Week
Friday, January 15, 2021
12:00 pm

While more than three dozen Kansas City restaurants have closed for good amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many, many more have managed to survive. But what lies ahead? The Independent Restaurant Coalition, formed earlier this year to advocate targeted federal assistance, has estimated that up to 85% of the country’s independent dining outlets are at risk of shutting their doors. 

To what degree can the industry rebound in Kansas City? In most cases if not all, surviving restaurants have had to make adjustments. What additional changes are likely – for owners and operators, for their staffs, for those longing to again dine out? 

In the third and final installment of a lunchtime series coinciding with KC Restaurant Week, three restaurateurs -- former Ça Va owner Caitlin Corcoran; Waldo Thai General Manager James Chang; and acclaimed Raleigh, North Carolina, chef and restaurant owner Cheetie Kumar -- assess the future of the city’s dining scene. ­Restaurant critic Liz Cook of The Pitch moderates the online discussion. 

Corcoran co-owned Ça Va in Westport for more than six years and now is an aspiring winemaker/farmer. In addition to managing Waldo Thai, Chang has launched J. Chang Kitchen to distribute his own line of cooking oils, sauces, and spices. Kumar, a three-time semifinalist and finalist this year for the prestigious James Beard “Best Chef: Southeast” award, co-owns the restaurant Garland in Raleigh and is on the leadership team of the Independent Restaurant Coalition.

Cook was runner-up in 2020 for the Association of Food Journalists' Best Restaurant Criticism award. 

Watch the noon presentation live online at

The Past, Present, and Future of Restaurants in KC  (Past)
Monday, January 11
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The Past, Present, and Future of Restaurants in KC  (Present)
Wednesday, January 13 
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