On Troost Avenue, the racial dividing line in Kansas City, a new restaurant seeks to bring communities together over pizza, sandwiches and beer.
Alan Kneeland, owner of The Combine restaurant, grew up on 75th and Troost Ave. and always had a goal of opening a business on Troost.
“I can remember 10 years ago coming down here, it was like a ghost town,” Kneeland said. “But now that Ruby Jean’s has made its mark down here, Operation Breakthrough and the Kansas City School Board, I just knew that this would be a great place.”
Last November, the Combine opened to the public inside the Wonder KC Shops and Flats building on 30th and Troost. The building was originally the Wonder Bread Factory so Kneeland and his business partners named the restaurant after the farm machinery that harvests wheat, a combine.
Kneeland has worked in the restaurant industry for about 15 years, and has experience as a general manager at Panera Bread and Pizza 51, where he met his mentor and co-owner of The Combine, Jason Pryor.
When Kneeland joined the Kansas City Restaurant Association board, he met Charles Peach who helped design and develop the bar at The Combine, which has a variety of beer taps, wine and cocktails.
The two helped Kneeland come up with the concept for The Combine.
The three envisioned The Combine to be a place that people could call their favorite hometown bar and feel comfortable and welcome. The restaurant’s mission statement is to “exist together.”
“I just want this to be a place where everybody can enjoy being around each other because we haven’t had a chance to really enjoy that in a long time,” Kneeland said, speaking about the struggles the pandemic brought.
The Combine has indoor and rooftop event spaces available to rent for mixers, day parties and birthday parties.
Inside the restaurant, there is a lounging area with couches and comfortable chairs. There are also long tables, perfect for large parties or meetings. Many visitors will grab a quick bite on the go, but you can usually catch a lot of guests just hanging out or having meetings.
“We’ve come out of a lot of turmoil the last couple of years and it’s been crazy politically and racially, so once you walk through those doors, I don’t care about your political background, your gender, your preferences, anything like that,” Kneeland said. “You are here to enjoy yourself and exist together.”
Because The Combine opened in the middle of the pandemic, they were not able to have a grand opening. On their first-year anniversary in November, Kneeland said they will hold Kansas City’s biggest pizza party to celebrate their opening.
Stay tuned about event details on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheCombineKC.
The Combine is hiring. To apply, fill out their online application: https:// thecombinekc.com/employment.html.
THE COMBINE RESTAURANT
Where: 2999 Troost, KCMO
Hours: Tues. -Thurs, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Reach them: (816) 895-3036 or thecombinekc.com
Menu items: A selection of cold and hot sandwiches, served with one side and a pickle. Pizza by the slice or in medium, large, or extra-large pies. Appetizers, soup, salads and desserts. Plus a great bar selection of wines, beers and quality liquor. Sandwich prices begin at $8, but are mostly in the $12 range. Pizzas start at $12.79 to $27.51 for cheese, toppings are extra.
To see the menu: go online go https://thecombinekc.com