This new Johnson County restaurant offers ‘BBQ plates’ and a bar. Without any guilt

Chef Will Harris is passionate about preventing ailments with food.

He’s studied different diets and understands the risks cholesterol-heavy foods can carry: blood clots, heart attacks, strokes. And while many wish to improve their diets — squeeze in more leafy greens, whole grains and the like — they don’t want to compromise taste.

Town Center Plaza’s plant-based restaurant, Whole Harvest Kitchen, aims to be the perfect option for health-curious eaters.

Clean, but not too hardcore.

“It’s the kind of food a non-vegan would eat without even feeling it,” Harris said.

Whole Harvest was set to open Tuesday at 4853 W. 117th St. It’ll be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the first few weeks. Eventually, it will stay open until 8 p.m. (Harris and the team want to give themselves plenty of time to adjust.)

It serves a variety of healthy starters: hummus bowls and lettuce crunch wraps, soups and salads.

Also on the menu: the K.C. BBQ plate (pulled jackfruit, barbecue mushrooms, smoky tofu, creamy grits, pickles and campfire beans) and a pita sandwich (potato, tofu shawarma, tomato, cucumber, pickle, falafel crunch, slaw, tahini-zesty sauce).

Founded in North Kansas City in 2018, Whole Harvest is also a health meal delivery service. The Leawood restaurant is Whole Harvest’s first, but Harris said they’re looking at opening more restaurants in Kansas City and beyond.

And there’s plenty of demand for it in the area, Harris said. While Kansas City’s known for its barbecue, healthy eateries are picking up steam: Enjoy Pure Food + Drink, Bibibop and more.

Customers walking through Whole Harvest’s tall glass double doors are greeted with pale oak countertops, tiled walls and green houseplants.

A few yards from the checkout counter is a marbled bar, where patrons can sip nonalcoholic drinks, all with “healing properties,” Harris said.

The citrus spritz has lemonade, orange and seltzer. The golden hour is turmeric, ginger, dates, pineapple and pepper. Even more loose leaf teas, coffee and pressed juices are on the menu.

Dozens of booths and tables sit past the bar. Moss creeps up one back wall. Customers can easily peer into the kitchen, and that’s purposeful, Harris said.

Whole Harvest serves vegan lunch offerings and nonalcoholic drinks.
Whole Harvest serves vegan lunch offerings and nonalcoholic drinks.

Transparency is important. You won’t find any processed ingredients hiding on shelves.

“Our goal is not to change anyone’s habits,” he said. “We just want to add an addition to their weekly options.”

Plus, Whole Harvest sources as many of its ingredients locally as possible, buying from small farms.

It’s not the easiest way to run a restaurant, Harris admits, but it’s a growing trend in the food industry. And who knows? Maybe the Leawood restaurant will be the first of many more to come.

“So it’s heavy on flavor and technique, but it’s gonna reduce your cholesterol levels and lower your blood pressure and help fight those things. Help you feel better,” he said. “That’s the goal.”