New owner hopes to change struggling West Bottoms restaurant

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A troubled West Bottoms place takes on new life. You may remember Rockstar Burgers and the arrest of its owner. Now the new tenants say they hope to make the space something positive.

Savage Saloon aims to create a new ambience under the new management of the building. The owners gave FOX4 a first look and tour of the cleaned space. The owners say they want to make it a safe place for people. For almost two years, space has been empty.

“Everything was black. Everything was graffiti, everything was dirty. When we walked through the door we thought what did we just take? Co-owner, said Tracy McDaniel.

She says when they first entered space, it was enough for most people to turn around and exit. There were beer cans and trash all over the space. Graffiti covered the walls and a giant stripper pole connected to a stage stood in the middle of the front part of the business.

McDaniel and her husband Robert McDaniel took over the space. He is better known as Big Rob Savage, a subway rapper who boasts a positive attitude and is community focused.

In July 2020, he collaborated on a song to help bring 4-year-old LeGend killer Taliferro to justice with the song ‘Do this 4 LeGend.’ McDaniel said they own a number of other businesses, including a faith-based production company and a plumbing company.

Their next project is to transform Rockstar Burgers into Savage Saloon with their logo based on the larger than life character Big Rob.

“Being able to do this is a dream come true for me,” said Savage.

The original Savage Saloon was in his backyard and exclusively for friends and family. Savage says they would cook menus and serve people on the weekends for fun, and now he can’t wait to make a deal.

The tavern will not only have drinks, but food, and possibly a rarely seen space before the event in the back. They hope to organize themed evenings where people can come and have fun, dance and have a positive experience.

“It’s something that’s going to be nice and safe and just a place to come and relax and hang out,” McDaniel said.

The space became infamous in Kansas City in 2019 following a series of incidents. A woman was assaulted outside the restaurant in October 2019.

The owner, Brian Smith, has been charged with assault and armed criminal action for allegedly whipping his then girlfriend at her Parkville home.

In July 2020, he was also charged with animal abuse and animal sex related to an incident in his loft above space.

Finally, last October, he was indicted in federal court for allegedly being part of a drug trafficking ring. Eighteen people have been charged in the case, claiming the group distributed methamphetamines and heroin for more than $ 1.7 million. Smith was arrested and remains in US Marshall custody without bail, according to the US attorney’s office. None of the suspects have pleaded guilty to the case and are expected to stand trial in June 2022. His charges in Jackson County and Clay County will advance once the federal case is over.

“Whatever happened, happened. It’s a building. It’s a space, ”McDaniel said.

Rockstar Holdings, LLC still owns the building, but they say they never had contact with Smith. They were approached to possibly rent the space and worked with others with ties to Smith’s business connections.

McDaniel said they signed a long-term lease and part of the deal was that they would manage the building themselves. The attic on the third floor would have been cleaned and is said to be empty. They don’t expect Smith to come back.

“Everyone knows negativity and we’re going to come here and change that completely. Everything is going to be positive, ”said Savage.

“New opportunity. New space. We just hope everyone is open and wanting to come and check out,” McDaniel said.

They hope to open the Savage Saloon in early December.

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