Lester Peterson ran a family catering company called Miss Lester’s Dishes, but she always wanted to open her own restaurant. She passed away in 2006, and the family has been kicking around the idea of opening a restaurant ever since.
Timothy Harris is mere weeks away from finally making his grandmother’s dream a reality with the grand opening of Privēe Restaurant + Lounge, which will launch it’s soft opening August 5.
“This is me just trying to keep her legacy going forward,” says Harris.
Harris says the name also comes from his grandmother, who always wanted him to be “privy” to what was going on in the world outside their 37th & Benton block. With its French spelling, Privēe (pronounced like privy) takes on a dual meaning of worldly and private, fitting for the fine dining restaurant and lounge that will be located in Kansas City’s Crossroads District.
“Think of it as going to Capital Grille and The Monarch Bar at the same time,” says Harris. “You have the fine dining food experience with the ambiance of a lounge.”
Harris and co-owner Marcus Easy met while working at Cerner and bonded over their passion for food. The two then persuaded Executive Chef Jonathan Wilson to relocate and join the team. Wilson, who was born in Grenada, had served as executive chef at two upscale restaurants in Miami.
Harris, Easy, and Wilson have an ambitious vision for Privēe.
“It’s frustrating because when you travel the world, there are global brands that are White-owned, that get all kinds of recognition,” says Easy. “They get Michelin stars and things of that nature, but when there’s anything that’s Black-owned: It’s viewed as just a Black-owned restaurant.”
Easy says that while Privēe is a Black-owned and Black-led restaurant, they are open to everyone who enjoys fine dining.
“We want to make our name and distinguish ourselves as a delicious fine dining restaurant,” says Easy.
Steak and seafood rule the night at Privēe. The dinner menu features appetizers like ahi tuna tartare, oysters, and roasted bone marrow. The soft shell crab boa is unlike anything you’ll see around KC—the dish is a soft shell crab in a steam bun with pickles, southern mayo, and cilantro. For the main course, you’ll find Alaskan king crab legs with garlic brown butter, jerked teriyaki salmon, and a tomahawk ribeye with truffle butter to go with sides like the lobster mac & cheese.
The weekend brunch menu has its take on millennial-favorite avocado toast, along with a fried lobster omelet and steak & eggs. In an homage to Harris’ grandmother, you’ll also find Lester’s fried chicken & buttermilk waffles during weekend brunch service.
Bryan Ari, Kansas City’s highest-rated bartender, curated the cocktail menu. Ari previously worked at renowned establishments like Manifesto, The Monarch, and Corvino Supper Club and created a menu that ranges from classics to colorful spritzers.
‘Royal Court’ is a New Orleans-inspired classic sipper served with Remy Martin brandy and Angel’s Envy rye—other playful drinks like ‘Quiet Luxury’ mix brandy, limoncello, sparkling wine, and lemon boba.
Privēe sits at the western corner of the Crossroads Arts District and takes up 9,000 square feet. Besides the main dining area, an upstairs space can be used for private events, chef dinners, and members-only exclusives.
Across the two levels, there are couches in addition to the tables and booths to add the relaxed atmosphere that features live DJs. The DJs are encouraged to read the room as they play a broad range of house music, but ownership insists the space is not a club and does not feature a dancefloor.
“We are a restaurant where young adults and young professionals can come in and enjoy great food, great service, in a great environment for networking, as well as enjoying time with friends, family, and loved ones,” says Harris.
Privēe Restaurant + Lounge
700 Southwest Blvd, Kansas City, MO
Open Wednesday through Sunday
Lounge open until 1am nightly
4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday & Thursday
4 to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday
Saturday & Sunday
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.