Just about everyone who has driven by 931 Broadway, in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, has seen the bright red awning over the entrance of The Majestic Restaurant. The building started life over 100 years ago as the Fitzpatrick Saloon. Built in 1911, the same year Jim Pendergast (Boss Tom’s older brother) passed away, it housed the saloon and a bordello. At that time, it resided in the center of the city, and became a key location in its future.
It all started when a man named James Fitzpatrick decided to build a saloon in the Quality Hill district. He succeeded with the help of Jim and “Boss Tom” Pendergast. I was offered a tour of this landmark by Brett. He is very knowledgeable on the history of the building, as well as the city in general. The main floor is where patrons drank, while the upper floors were used for more shady undertakings. Upstairs was also the living quarters for Fitzpatrick. These days the second floor of The Majestic Restaurant has been converted into the Pendergast Club. This room was used as a secondary office by “Boss Tom” Pendergast. It is here that customers can schedule a private dining and lounging experience found nowhere else in the city. As Brett explained the history of the room, I noticed that it has a fully stocked bar. The decor includes unusual Kansas City artifacts, and some very comfortable leather seating.
Next we head downstairs to the Jazz Club. Here is where the saloon moved its operations during Prohibition. Thirsty speakeasy patrons would enter the next building over, and then pass through via an underground tunnel. With the protection of Boss Tom, Fitzpatrick’s Saloon was able to survive Prohibition. Unfortunately, the city was changing, and the area soon became known as the Garment District. The saloon closed up shop, and converted into a garment manufacturing location. By the middle of the 20th Century, the building had fallen into disrepair and sat empty. In 1983, two Kansas City natives purchased the site, and set to work restoring its hidden beauty. They acquired a bar from New Orleans, which had been built in 1880 (pictured at the top of the article). They had it placed downstairs in the refurbished home of the Jazz Club. Patrons can enjoy live jazz music nightly, while savoring drinks and eats in an intimate setting.
The new owners also purchased a second bar from New Orleans. This one is 40 feet long, and occupies a prime location on the main floor. During the renovation, the molded tin ceiling tiles were restored, as well as the original exterior copper façade. Local artist Jack O’Hara was commissioned to paint a mural near the entrance. It showcases more than a dozen people with strong ties to the Kansas City area. During your visit you should see how many you can identify.
With an abundance of historical data swirling through my head, I decided I should check to see if our meals were ready. Fortunately, I made it back just in time. Crystal didn’t seem to be put out about the length of time I was gone, and I told her a little about what I had learned. Being an early Saturday afternoon, they were still serving brunch. Both of us were already well past our breakfast mode, so Crystal chose the Lemon Rosemary Chicken Salad Wrap. The meal is wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, and offered a flavorful departure from burgers. For her side, she went with fresh fruit, which was a combination of cantaloupe, grapes, and pineapple chunks.
I went for a more unusual entree, and selected the Cherry Pecan Chicken with Goat Cheese. This came with two sides, so I picked the Rice Pilaf and the fruit. When it arrived I was unsure about my choice. I am usually a beef eater guy, so selecting chicken is a new thing for me. Of course, it is one that I am trying to do more often. My first bite told me that I had made a good choice. The flavor combination of the semi-sweet cherries, crunchy pecans, and tangy goat cheese burst on my taste buds. This is probably not a recipe I would have thought of on my own, so I have to give a big compliment to the person who created it.
Our visit coincided with the Big 12 Tournament, and we fell into conversation with a couple sitting next to us. We learned that they were from Colorado, and have been to every Big 12 tourney for the past 28 years. They had developed their own list of favorite places in the metro. We discussed these, as well as some of our favorite places in and around Denver. It was a comfortable conversation, and it gave credit to the relaxed atmosphere found at The Majestic Restaurant. Soon we had to bid goodbye to our restaurant mates, as the tournament games were restarting. We gave our thanks to Brett for a wonderful experience, and headed out the historic entrance. Soon we found ourselves back into the present, but with a new found respect for the history of the old Fitzpatrick’s saloon.
Have you ever had the pleasure of dining at The Majestic Restaurant? Share your experiences in the comments section below.
18 thoughts on “Shady History at Majestic Restaurant”
I’ve eaten at The Majestic several times. Food is always very good. I’ve also been to a private party upstairs in the “Pendergast Room.” Cool atmosphere. The only shortcoming to me is the lack of connection to the original Majestic at 31st & Gillham. In its heyday it was nationally known.
We never had the pleasure of visiting the old location. We do like the new digs.
Jeff and Crystal, I am a chauffeur with Agenda USA. Every time I bring people into downtown Kansas City from the airport, I always tell them “You have to go to the Majestic.” I tell them about the history, the amazing food and of course the Jaxz. Keep up the great work.
Thank you for continuing to promote our city, and thanks for visiting our blog.
Try to get to the Majestic every year on my birthday, always in the jazz club the the ribeye steak is delicious, never disappoints, music is great too!
Glad to hear you enjoy it, as well. Such a historic location.
My father-n-law owned NEC and Holiday House, which were next door and across the street from the Majestic – we have such memories…
I imagine you have explored the spaces pretty well.
No; but I will. I’m the grandson of Boss Tom’s go-to contractor, Bill Boyle of Boyle-Pryor Construction. His history in KC goes back beyond The Machine and Rabbits and Goats to life on the streets in the Argentine District (1900-1920-ish). He and his brother actually roomed with a bartender (name escapes me now); but I’m left to wonder if he wasn’t employed by Fitzpatrick in the early days.
How interesting. That is one of the stories behind the story. Thanks for commenting.
My wife and I went to The Majestic for our 40th Anniversary in 2019, and It was like going back in time. The entree’s were delicious, and we enjoyed the atmosphere as we dined on the main floor. I love old things and buildings anyway! I wonder what the current story is about that unmentioned (shhh) 3rd floor…above the Pendergast Club….
Oops – I meant 49th Anniversary. I’ve done it now!
I won’t tell. LOL
That’s a story we have not heard. So much hidden history in our hometown.
It has been a long time since I was able to dine at the Majestic. I am recently replanted in KC and I would like to see the blackened Prime Rib Sandwich back on the menu. I do miss the garages next door that were the homes of Antique Fire Equipment. Now it is Jimmy John’s!
It is sad when things change. Glad to have you back in KC.
After the Golden Ox closed for awhile. Tommy the bartender, (once voted KC’s best bartender) moved to the Majestic Jazz Room. I’d stop in for drinks and occasionally a steak. Last time I was there, it was for my girlfriend’s birthday. Made sure I reserved the table directly across from the band. Tommy gave us table drink service. My girlfriend started as a server at 15. She used to own one of the most successful restaurants in the US, and has eaten at some of the finest. That night blew her away.
Thanks for sharing this bit of history. We can almost picture her smiling face.