Burgers, Cocktails, and Sports: The Ainsworth Elevates the Sports Bar Experience

Words by Brennan Hallock /  Photos by Jami Marshall

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Kansas City is known for two things: sports and food. From the Royals to the Chiefs to Sporting KC, we are loyal fans of our sports teams. Our rich history of tasty barbecue and ribs is an essential piece of the local culture — a culture that is continuously changing and evolving, especially when it comes to food. 

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Kansas Citians are proud of these two traditions, so it comes as no surprise that one of the city’s newest additions, The Ainsworth, has meshed well here.

The Ainsworth, which opened January in Leawood’s Park Place, combines those two passions in one sitting. “There are two big factors in our brand that mean a lot to people,” says Brian Mazza, co-owner of The Ainsworth. “They are sports and food. People care about their sports teams as much as they do about what they’re eating. We want to continue to elevate that experience for our customers.”

The Ainsworth started in New York City. The expansion into Leawood is its first location in the Midwest. KC may seem like an unusual first step outside the northeast, but Mazza explains there are many similarities. “The communities are the same,” he says. “Both cities have diehard sports fans, and people in both locations are on a quest for amazing food.”

In its desire to combine two things people love, The Ainsworth has created what is their most popular dish: 

the Mac & Cheese Burger. “I wanted to combine a couple of things people of all ages love, and that is macaroni and cheese and a hearty cheeseburger,” Mazza explains. “By blending those two favorites, I was able to give people what they love in one bite.” 

The Ainsworth serves more than burgers, though. The restaurant was created to fill a void in the sports bar market, and it elevates your “sports bar” experience by serving entrees like its coffee-rubbed fish tacos and short rib sandwich as well as high-quality steaks, fish, and chicken; a variety of greens; and a sampling of sides such as crispy artichokes and its signature Mac & Cheese Fries. Like any good Midwest restaurant, you’ll also find a well-equipped bar. Specialty cocktails include the Crooked Knife, a jalapeño-infused tequila with lemon agave, and the Ol’ Jackie Girl, a mix of apple cider, honey, lemon, orange bitter, and Jack Daniels. 

Another specialty Ainsworth specialty — Gold Wings — will be coming to Kansas City soon. These chicken wings are soaked in coconut butter, chipotle, and honey batter, fried, then dusted with 24-karat gold flakes. This odd new food craze is the result of a collaboration between The Ainsworth and Jonathan Cheban, aka Foodgod, who is an Instagram sensation and self-proclaimed food lover.

“Great food accompanied with exceptional service is key,” says Jason Harper, the general manager of The Ainsworth in Leawood. “We create an experience here and offer a variety of food and cocktail options for everyone.” The Ainsworth is family-friendly, having just launched the kid’s menu. And a large outdoor patio makes it the perfect spot for outdoor dining.

And, with 23 TVs and 11 cable boxes, you’re not restricted to prime-time sporting events. “The Ainsworth is a good place to catch any sporting event you’d like, from soccer to rugby to tennis to baseball to football,” Harper says. The Ainsworth is open until midnight during the week, and until 2 a.m. on the weekends.

Thanks to its appeal to two of our city’s greatest obsessions — sports and food — The Ainsworth fits in well with KC culture. “People are passionate about these things,” Mazza says. “So, we make sure we always deliver on our product.” 

The Ainsworth is located at 11563 Ash St. in Leawood. Get more info at theainsworth.com or by calling 913.320.2530.