Neighbors say popular new restaurant in River Market leaves them in difficult spot

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Customers are lining up to try a new hot spot in town, but not everyone is ready to welcome it to the neighborhood.

FOX4's Melissa Stern spoke with people who share a building with "Freestyle Poke" in the River Market and say their experience is much more different than it is for the customers lining up outside the restaurant's door.

“It's been a nightmare,” said Jennifer Lynn, who lives in the apartments next to Freestyle Poke. “It's attracting vermin, and I've seen large rats out there that we've never had before. And it`s really gross to walk by that, and also there`s no room for our trash a lot of times.”

Tenants who've lived in these apartments near 5th and Delaware in the River Market say, ever since Freestyle Poke restaurant moved in, their living situation has deteriorated.

“For me, the experience has been a little bit like if some people you don`t know decided they were going to move a restaurant into your basement, start cooking there, making lots of noise, lots of smells, then people start frequenting that restaurant and they park in your driveway, so you can`t get into your driveway,” said Chris Edley, who lives in an apartment above Freestyle Poke.

Freestyle Poke

Freestyle Poke opened last month -- and by the looks of it, business is booming.

But the neighbors who share a wall with the restaurant, or live right above it, said the noise and smell are intolerable.

“Prep work, so a constant chopping, grinding, dishes everywhere -- that`s what I wake up to and what I go to sleep to,” Lynn said. “It smells like oil in my apartment. It smells like onions and garlic in my apartment. My clothes smell like garlic.”

Others are more concerned about property value and safety.

“I was really excited about how much my property value had gone up, and now I just feel like, 'Do I have any value?'” Edley said, “They leave the doors open. They prop the front door open. They prop the back door open. What use is there having a key code or a key if the doors are always propped open, rats are coming in, and you have people who don`t even live here have access to all of the residential areas? Is that safe?”

New management took over the building this week.

“It`s our job now to jump in and help resolve these issues,” said Tom Larkin, the owner of Foxtail Real Estate Company, which now owns the property.

The new owner said new signage to help clarify some of the parking issues has already been put up. They also plan to increase trash collection to help people living in the building.

“Unfortunately, sometimes things reach a boiling point before change is made, and that`s why we were engaged to come in and help return this building back to something everyone is proud of,” Larkin said.

“There are a lot of people that are very happy that Poke is here in the neighborhood," he added.

The restaurant did pass city inspections and health department inspections before it opened.

Neighbors said they feel their only option now is moving out, and since our story first aired, Jennifer Lynn has done so.