By Don Bradley
It’s going to happen. Soon.
A guy in Dallas or Chicago or Schenectady will go into a bar and order a Hard Way.
“Never heard of it,” the bartender will say. “Beer?”
“Yeah, I got it at the airport in Kansas City.”
“Can you get it?”
The question will come because starting February 28, when the new $1.5 billion terminal at KCI opens, people from across the country and around the world will get their first look at a “Martin City Brewing Company” sign and maybe their first gulp of Hard Way IPA, a Kansas City favorite from the brewery born in 2014.
Owner Matt Moore, who started out making beer at home, never expected to get to this point.
“It’s a dream come true,” Moore said. “And that I do it alongside some of my best friends has also been amazing.”
Martin City’s location in the shiny, new million-square-foot terminal is plum. Corner spot, right past security, next to Parisi Coffee in Concourse A, near some of the $6 million or so in commissioned art. Travelers can enjoy a cold one, eat a slice, watch a game and look out ceiling-high glass at planes as they arrive and taxi to gates.
Ever had a worse two-hour layover?
Not long after the airport coming-out is when the bartender in Schenectady will get that question.
“They’ll have to come to Kansas City,” said Robb Richmiller, marketing manager for Martin City Brewing Company.
The company, he said, is not planning on market expansion or increasing production due to the national exposure from the new KCI location. For now, it will stick to making about 10,000 barrels of beer annually for its locations in Martin City, Lee’s Summit, Overland Park, Lenexa and the new airport site.
“I’m not saying never,” Richmiller said. “But right now this is about showing the country what we do. Kansas City is known for barbecue, but it’s also known for beer and we are honored to be asked to be here.”
Boulevard Brewing and Stockyards Brewing will also have sites among the 50 or so local businesses in the new terminal. Other eateries include Soiree Steak and Oyster House, Bo Lings, Buffalo State Pizza, Taste of Brazil, Poio, Cinnabon, Pigwich (barbecue), Mother Earth Coffee and Grapes and Grains.
Businesses include Director’s Cut Take 2, Made in Kansas City Marketplace, Johnston & Murphy, Lego and InMotion.
The city broke ground for the massive project in March of 2019. Officials say the new terminal is the most expensive infrastructure project in Kansas City history.
The new terminal replaces the old horseshoe-shaped terminals built with the airport in 1972. One is already gone; the remaining two will be demolished soon.
The switchover, the exact time when planes start to taxi to the new gates, occurs officially at 1 a.m. on Feb. 28.
Pretty good timing. Kansas City will soon play host to the Big 12 men’s basketball tournament. Then March Madness comes to town. Later on, it’s the NFL Draft, and on down the road in 2026 a world audience comes to town for FIFA World Cup action.
Three weeks ago, the new terminal was abuzz with cramming as businesses got ready for the opening. Forklifts zipped about, skilled labor did what they do, supplies and merchandise poured in.
At the new Martin City Brewing site, an electrician worked in the kitchen and large boxes of tables and chairs arrived to the bar area.
Sean Williams, general manager of the 2,785-square-foot bar/restaurant, said the place can occupy 129 people.
The airport menu won’t be the same as other locations, but there will be a flat top grill for burgers and a Wood Stone oven for Martin City’s signature pizza.
Breakfast sandwiches will be big as a lot of airport eating is “grab and go.”
On tap, 12 kinds of beer.
Who knows? It might be a bartender in Dusseldorf who may soon hear, “Tun du haben Hart Weg?”