KANSAS CITY, Mo. — From a seedy past to a reputable present, The Majestic Restaurant got its start with the help of one of Kansas City’s most notorious figures.
This fine-dining experience and jazz club operates out of a building on the border of Quality Hill and the Library District. It’s built by bricks as old as the names that adorn its hallways and doorsteps.
The name James Fitzpatrick might not mean anything to you, but Tom Pendergast, the infamous crime boss, should ring some bells. Restaurant owners state that Fitzpatrick started this saloon with the backing of Pendergast in 1911.
The third floor, now called the Pendergast Club, used to be where Fitzpatrick lived. The second floor was a brothel, but it is only used for storage now. Finally, the first floor and previous saloon is now the main restaurant.
During prohibition, the saloon closed down. However, the dirt cellar was turned into a hidden speakeasy. A tunnel is said to have run from the speakeasy to the opera house across the street, which has since been converted into lofts.
Today, the only remains of that tunnel are found in the boiler room. Different coloring on the walls show where the tunnel was filled in.
Over the years, the building changed hands several times. Nearly 30 years ago, restaurateur Doug Barnard bought the Majestic name from a 1930’s steakhouse and moved into the Fitzpatrick’s present-day building.
You can still see the Fitzpatrick’s name emblazoned on the step outside of the front door. But that’s not the only thing that seems to be lingering from history.
Ghosts of the past remain, according to stories from those who have worked there. A former employee reported seeing a lady in red, who may have been a part of the old brothel, disappear. Another server reported that an invisible hand tried to push her down the stairs.
Contrary to these spooky stories, restaurant owners today said the building has been nothing but good to them, acting as a positive force for the community. It serves as a way to remember and celebrate a bygone era of high class, music and important area figures.
With a mural dedicated to some of Kansas City’s heroes and live jazz every night, The Majestic Restaurant is now a modern window into Kansas City’s past.