Tucked away in downtown Kansas City sits a very unique establishment: Pirate’s Bone Burgers. With a mission to help the community while simultaneously offering tasty and affordable cuisine, Pirate’s Bone stays true to their word. From activated charcoal waffles to sweet plantains and bean burgers, this joint takes veganism to new heights.
However, starting the restaurant wasn’t always the original plan for its owner. We took some time to chat with founding partner Zaid Renato Consuegra Sauza about his journey to owning a restaurant.
When you started, what were your biggest concerns early on?
There was a huge question mark behind starting a vegan restaurant. It’s the midwest – we are known here for barbecue and breweries. We don’t necessarily have the same lifestyle as coastal cities, or the same open-mindedness about food. It was a big coin toss to see if the restaurant could perform the way we wanted it to, and we have been pretty shocked at how well it has been going so far.
What are some of the most popular choices on your menu?
The beet burger, the classic burger… I would say the fried chicken when we have it. We don’t always have the fried chicken but when we do, it sells out immediately. I’m really excited about our fries, too. I’m looking forward to spring and summer because we will definitely
have more fry options. Besides that, I made a pretty small and thought-out menu. We do a special item every two or three months, and we make sure that the few items that are on the menu are always top quality. As for a recommendation, I would say try out the buffalo fries. The buffalo fries are great, and they are on special right now so they won’t be here for super long. Truffle fries with barbecue sauce are also delicious. People don’t really think of that combo very often, but it’s a really good one.
Do you have any memories of food from your childhood?
I grew up in an immigrant household with a single mother of three. We didn’t really have time to sit and have dinners or meals very often, so my life wasn’t necessarily based around food. But toward the end of my high school years and the beginning of college, I started to explore it more. Testing out different things that I had never been able to try before. I started the restaurant mostly based on necessity, but my interest in food played a big part.
Have you ever felt like quitting?
I have definitely felt like quitting at least twice during through the time we were building. One being that we just didn’t have enough funds to finish the project – one of our investors pulled out a day before we were supposed to sign the lease. It was a huge problem at the time. We did what we could, though – we only hired an electrition and did what we could on our own. My business partner and I lived on $1 burritos. Maybe we had one to two a day. That’s how we were able to manage to get the doors open. It was a really dark place, it was probably the darkest place I’ve been in my entire life. But we pushed through and made it happen.
Is this what led you to the mission of making healthy and affordable cuisine?
I believed in the product that we were about to sell. It came together while everything was being built. I invested all that I had at the time into this restaurant, so I had nothing to fall back on. I realized that if I could get to that point where I couldn’t even give myself a nutritious meal because we couldn’t afford it – well it made me think that there are definitely other people in that situation and that we might be able to help. We brought down all of our prices to make the food more accessible. If we’re able to sell the burgers in volume, we could keep it at that low price, and at a lower price, more people would come.
The bedrock of Pirate’s Bones Burgers is one built partnership, design, and improving the lives of those around them in the community. Creating a culture based on “Plant-Based Pirates” and swiftly becoming one of Kansas City’s best minority-owned kitchens comes from a heart of passion and determination. Zaid shared a bit of direct advice for any up-and-coming restaurateurs, that will help them along their journey. “Your customers should not have to add anything to your food. If you ever find that customers are adding too many ingredients to your meal or presentation, someone is not doing their job.”
2000 Main St, Kansas City, MO 64108
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Images by Bliss Nilsen & Pirate’s Bone Burgers | Editing by Tableside Staff