After more than 24 years in the basement of Unity Temple on the Plaza, Eden Alley has closed. Joyce Smith |

Former Eden Alley space by Plaza to host pop-ups, dance club, McGonigle’s Market cafe

Seven months after longtime vegetarian favorite Eden Alley Cafe closed in Unity Temple on the Plaza, a new restaurant concept is hoping to take its place.

The owners of McGonigle’s Market are working on plans to open McGonigle’s Cafe in the temple basement at 707 W. 47th St.

“We were looking for a place to expand our catering. We are slowly progressing with engineers,” said Randy Ross, a partner in McGonigle’s Market. “It needs a makeover, it would be like building a new restaurant kitchen. Nothing is set in stone until we come to an agreement.”

Preliminary plans call for a weekday breakfast and lunch cafe that would have a walk-up counter with display cases for grab-and-go items. Customers also would be able to dine-in.

With McGonigle’s being a famed meat market that has a barbecue food truck, the chef-driven menu would feature meat along with vegetarian items.

“It also would have our catering operation. We envision doing meetings, different types of gathering, wedding receptions, all in that space, as well as community based pop-up dinners,” said Mike McGonigle, also a partner in McGonigle’s with his sister, Joan Weber.

Meanwhile, the former Eden Alley space will host a series of pop-ups under the name World Cafe featuring local chefs serving international cuisine.

First up is Marwan Chebaro, who previously owned Cafe Rumi on 39th Street’s Restaurant Row and currently does corporate dining for such clients as Sprint and the University of Kansas Medical Center under his Culinary Innovations Inc. He will host a private event in mid-April with the first public events in May and work with Unity on other pop-up events.

“We want to make sure whoever comes in they will serve a stellar meal,” said Duke Tufty, CEO of Unity Temple on the Plaza.

The space will also host Out of the Blue, a non-alcoholic dance club with a DJ, one or two nights a week.

Eden Alley abruptly closed last summer. Tufty said there were “irreconcilable differences” and he has been working since then to find a replacement.

One hold up? Demolition of existing buildings to the south and construction of the new 122,000-square-foot Nordstrom, set to open in 2021.

Only an alleyway separates the Nordstrom site from Unity Temple’s south entrance, which is the only entrance to the restaurant during its business hours and the only handicap accessible entrance. It also is the only entrance for restaurant suppliers.

“We want to bring new life into the space, if we can jump over this Nordstrom hurdle,” Tufty said. “About half of the people who come into this building come in from the south entrance.”

Tufty said a mediation will be held in May between Unity Temple and Country Club Plaza officials to work out details of access to the south side and any compensation if the lower level is not accessible from the south end.

In a statement, Plaza officials said: “We are excited about Nordstrom coming to the Plaza and the support we have received from the broader Kansas City community surrounding the project. We have worked closely with Unity Temple and always strive to be a good neighbor. At this point, it would not be appropriate to comment further on this private resolution matter.”

Off the menu

Former Eden Alley space by Plaza to host pop-ups, dance club, McGonigle’s Market cafe