Sustainable Spotlight: Bar K Dog Bar

Bar K is a destination bar, restaurant and dog park located on the Kansas City riverfront directly to the west of Berkley Riverfront Park. Utilizing property adjacent and under the Heart of America Bridge, Bar K launched its riverfront location in August of 2018. In just one year,this unique business has attracted over 175,000 people and 130,000 dogs to enjoy an area of the city that sat dilapidated and unused for the good part of a century. Bar K was able to secure this unique location with the help and partnership of the Port Authority who understood the vision for the concept and realized the power of utilizing this “found space” under the Heart of America Bridge.  

From the outset of the idea, sustainability has been at the core of the values of the company. From recycling stations on day one of their temporary facility to working with their architects, contractors and partners on green design, Bar K has never wavered from a commitment to environmentalism. 

Some of their innovative highlights include: 

  • Utilization of “found space” – To most developers an area directly under a bridge, next to railroad tracks, wouldn’t be considered usable, however this represented a perfect location for the Bar K concept. What was once a dumping ground for mattresses, tires and other trash is now a park that thousands of people and dogs enjoy each week. Its location under the bridge not only provides Bar K guests year-round shelter from wet weather, it creates a comfortable shaded spot in the hot summer months. 
  • Its use of 17 repurposed shipping containers – Bar K chose to repurpose used shipping containers as opposed to using “one-trippers” or brand-new containers. Many of these containers required cutting out walls to work for the concept. Whenever possible, these cutouts were used for awnings and visual screens. 
  • Additionally, on the roof of the restaurant and outdoor bar, Bar K partnered with Sunsmart Technology to install enough panels to generate 5% of their energy usage from solar. Since install in January of this year, these have generated over 2800KwH, which represents the same reduction in CO2 as planting 50 trees. 

Their actions toward sustainability are almost too numerous to list – from recycling glass to installing recycled artificial turffrom serving as a donation drop-off station for Big Brothers Big Sisters of KC to having their cooking oil picked up for reuse as biofuel – Bar K is demonstrating what it means to weave sustainability into everyday business operations. 

Bar K was recognized for its sustainability accomplishments with an Innovation Award at the Kansas City Industrial Council’s annual Sustainability Awards Breakfast in October 2019.