Patrick R. | Chef/Owner
Years of Industry Service: 20+ (oops, forgot to ask exact)
Patrick rolled right into his interview as soon as our feet crossed the threshold of his domain; he had a lot to say and shit to do. After that, I just nodded my head, wrote as fast as I could and went along for the ride. That day, Port Fonda did its first lunch service, across the street from El Dorado Architects and under the bridge at 23rd and Washington. Rain and thunderstorms peppered the skies for most of the day, but still Port Fonda sold out early....by 1:15. At one point, Patrick looked out and saw 30 people, all under the bridge sitting in a row on the curb, eating his food. "In the restaurant business, you never want to be out of shit." But in their trailer, if they can be so busy they can be done in an hour, then that's always the goal.
For the foreseeable future, Patrick and partner/sous chef Max Watson are working "disgusting, horrible hours." But, he says, that's par for course when you're getting your business open. They learn something new every time they go out and just want to get better, stronger and cleaner. Their business has been a "perfect storm of something that's cool and unique and hot right now," he said. "I'd like to think that we're the best in the business." They are still learning what they're capable of doing. "Do what you're going to do, figure out if it works and if it doesn't, plan B."
Patrick says, "I'm a real fucking fidgety type of guy," so he's always thinking of new ways to differentiate himself from the rest of the pack. He is staying ahead of the food truck and restaurant game by working with people from all fields on a variety of projects. Partnering with other chefs and farms are a given, but he is also collaborating on projects with musicians, designers and anyone else who inspires him. "It's going to be fucking crazy how cool this is gonna get." Catering to the restaurant industry, his friends and supporters, is also key to their success. "Get the service industry behind you and everyone else follows. We cater to people who love food and love what we do."
When we sat with Patrick for their first dinner service inside the trailer and again during the interview, the thing that you always get from him is his passion, intensity and directness. He has a strong opinion and speaks his mind. He is ambivalent about social media because he doesn't want to hand-hold every person who tweets or sends him a message via facebook and it's just overwhelming. "When I'm working, I'm not on the fucking phone. If I responded to everyone, then we'd be closed." Our tip: the early bird gets the worm.
Patrick wants his business to thrive and succeed in the Crossroads. "If I can make our money where my heart beats, then that's where I want to be." Although his heart beats downtown, he lives in Prairie Village. With two kids and their education in mind, he makes no apologies and no excuses for living there, he loves PV. When he was 22-years-old, Patrick would have never believed he would end up back in the burbs, but kids change your whole world.
Patrick is a self-described Chicago guy. He lived there for six years; it's where he met his wife, he worked at incredible restaurants there and it's where he still has a lot of great friends. "Cozy bars in Chicago in the winter time are the best." He is terrible with directions. He paid his dues cutting pineapples at Whole Foods. He doesn't want to be anyone's "guy" in Kansas City. He wants his business to be relevant on a national scale. And he puts his heart and soul into his work. "This is our fucking livelihood. Our entire fucking lives are in this thing."
Make KC Better » Public transportation for sure. That ball got dropped a long time ago, not sure it will ever be picked up again. Downtown stadium. More stuff in the West Bottoms.