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LGBTQ-owned businesses cultivate inclusive environment in Westport

Westport draws diverse businesses owners to open up brick and motor shops
Posted at 5:37 AM, Jun 20, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo — In Westport a lot of the attention goes to bars and businesses located west of Broadway, but east of one of KC's most popular streets lies Bijou, Knapstein Designs and Bistro 303, all new, longstanding and popular businesses that are creating an inclusive environment and bringing new foot traffic to the district.

"There are more LGBTQ businesses on this side of Broadway," explained Randall Humbird, general manager of Bistro 303. "It's a diverse group of businesses and business owners and I think that's what makes it so cool."

Bistro 303 is a restaurant and bar which opened its doors nearly 20 years ago, spearheading change along the way.

"Bistro 303 was the first LGBTQ organization or business in Kansas City that had windows open to the public which was kind of a big deal back then," Humbird said.

Across the street, Knapstein Design opened its Westport brick and motor location in February 2023. Owner Kurt Knapstein says the entire interior space had to be redone, taking months to complete with a goal to bring a unique interior design businesses to the popular district.

"It's coming back to life, there's a lot of revitalization in this in this stretch, we're east of Broadway," Knapstein said. "I want it to look high end and great and bring something to the neighborhood that's going to really uplift everything."

New to the business neighborhood is Bijou, a new restaurant generating buzz for turning a decades-old building into a Soho, European spot with flair.

"To have neighbors that are also building something and creating synergy here, it is special and that's one of the things that i love about Westport," said Chad Alexander, founder of Bijou.

All three businesses are unique, but are bringing variety and pride to a significant neighborhood, that's projected to continue to grow.

"We're about to have a streetcar that's going to go right down Main, which is a block away," Humbird said. "People are going to be able to get off the street car and walk to this side of Broadway and go to all of these LGBTQ businesses and it's going to be really cool."

The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce estimates there are more than 1.4 million LGBTQ-owned businesses with an economic impact of $1.7 trillion.