Carrie Rengers

Birney’s Snack Shop to open this summer with a nod to the city’s former streetcars

As successful as the LevelUP party in a parking garage was last year, it taught organizer Janelle King that she needs to consolidate her efforts at creativity and growth a little closer to her own Workroom.

“Quite honestly, last year almost broke me,” she says.

“I just decided this was my year to refocus,” King says. “I’m still building on what I already have.”

That includes the new Garage at Cleveland Corner, a business incubator that will rotate new small businesses, starting with Senor Munchies. It will have Latin-inspired snacks, candies and gifts.

Next, King is planning her own snack shop in the same building as the incubator, which is next to the Workroom at 150 N. Cleveland.

King named Birney’s Snack Shop for the brand of streetcars that used to run in that area around the turn of the 20th century and in the early decades of the 1900s.

“Cleveland Avenue was part of the original streetcar route.”

She says the business will be the same concept as her Workroom by representing local and artisanal goods, except the focus at Birney’s will be on food and drinks.

“Kind of like an artisanal version of a convenience store,” King says.

There will be local coffees, jams, jellies and honey along with limited menu items with a particular focus on brunch.

King also is working on getting a liquor license for beer on tap.

She envisions Birney’s as either a grab-and-go shop or a sip-and-shop business.

The Workroom, Senor Munchies and Birney’s will each have a separate entrance as well as doors between each of the businesses.

“You can enter in any one of them and then shop all three,” King says.

She’s also planning a patio and a walk-up window at Birney’s.

She says the longtime YJ’s Snack Bar in Kansas City with a “really funky, fun vibe” is a big part of her inspiration.

Birney’s will feature artists and guest chefs.

King says she wants to encourage culinary artists.

“Let’s provide a true platform to do it and provide a destination for it,” she says.

Thanks to the markets she hosts outside the Workroom, she says, “I already have such a good start to the contacts to start developing our product list.”

Kings plans limited hours initially and then will expand the business.

When it opens early this summer, Birney’s hours will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

“Really, it’s just kind of a place . . . that I want to go to,” King says.

Even though she’s not planning a party in a parking garage for the entire city this year, King is finding that staying close to the Workroom to expand with her latest ventures isn’t exactly restful either.

“Yes, I am crazy, and I’m exhausted.”