Guroux Khalifa had $150 to his name when he decided to serve up the best cookies Kansas City has ever tasted, he shared.
“A lot of painstaking work, time, love and passion went into creating this amazing product. The people who really understand the value and quality of that product have stayed and grown over the years, even when we have to shut down due to COVID,” said Khalifa, head chef and founder of District Biskuits.
District Biskuits officially opened its first physical location in December 2022 after years of pop-ups and catering. The restaurant, located in North Kansas City, has been highly anticipated, Khalifa said, noting that some of his customers have been around since he started District Biskuits in 2017 as a concept inside Lutfi’s Fried Fish on 63rd Street.
“We had a soft opening in November, and there was nothing soft about it,” Khalifa said with a laugh. “We had a line out the door and wrapped around the parking lot. The response from the community has been amazing. They really embraced us.
Click Here to check out the District Biskuits menu.
Why are you angry though?
Before her successful opening of a new restaurant, Khalifa was a culinary graduate who was passionate about cooking and sharing food with others. She worked in Kansas City restaurants before quickly realizing that she wanted to be her own boss, she shared.
“I started out as a private chef,” Khalifa said, noting that his time at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta prepared him as a classically trained chef. “It was difficult because it was just me and my services. I was very spread out and there was no scaling opportunity.
Feeling extremely exhausted, Khalifa took a trip to the Dominican Republic. When he returned to the United States, he had his epiphany: Do something simple, he said.
“My mom made cookies growing up, and I’ve taken her process and optimized it over the past 15 years,” Khalifa said. “… I made a deal with [Lutfi’s Fried Fish] operate during hours when they were not open. They opened around 11, so I served my chicken biscuits from 7:00 to 10:30”
Business for District Biskuits was extremely slow at first. Bored in an empty restaurant, Khalifa called Hot 103 Jamz! to encourage hosts to try his chicken biscuit sandwiches.
“They had a segment called ‘Why are you mad though?’ and I said I was upset that you guys didn’t come and try these chicken biscuits,” Khalifa recalled. “We were just having a conversation, and I didn’t think much of it after that. .
District Biskuits has gone from three customers a day, to 15, to 35, to 50, to a couple hundred customers on weekends, Khalifa said.
“In two months, I would have a line wrapped around the building,” he said. “I had to start closing earlier because I was bleeding into restaurant opening hours.”
When Khalifa first started showing up with District Biskuits, his goal was mostly to keep the business going, he recalled.
“Early in my career, I had a problem with unfollowing when things weren’t working out the way I wanted,” Khalifa admitted. “With this particular concept, I told myself I was not going to quit. Even though I only served one person a day, I kept going. I’m not going to stop.
Northern Kansas City
It was clear to Khalifa that there was high demand for him to open a restaurant of his own.
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the food and service industries in 2020, he closed the pop-up Lutfi’s Fried Fish location to focus on catering, other pop-ups and restaurant consultancy.
“That’s how I stayed afloat,” Khalifa said. “This location in North KC became available to me because a friend of mine called and told me that the business he set up here wasn’t working. I spoke to some of my mentors and we made an instant decision in November 2021.”
The colorful District Biskuits location includes both indoor and outdoor seating. Khalifa envisions the space as a place where the community can come together for good food, good music and good drinks, he said, teasing that a cocktail menu is coming soon.
“We have a liquor license, so we will offer brunch-style cocktails; We also have milkshakes and juices on our drinks menu,” Khalifa noted. “We are setting up a few more tables on our patio and setting up our shade sails, lighting and music. We plan to have daytime parties on the weekends. It will be a pleasant and lively environment where people can enjoy themselves.
Made for culture
When customers walk into District Biskuits, they are greeted with the tagline ‘created for culture’.
“It means this business was created for the culture of black, melaned people,” Khalifa explained. “It’s all about the culture of Kansas City and what it means to be a part of this city.”
From partnering with Black-owned businesses to naming menu items after iconic Kansas City landmarks and businesses, Khalifa is passionate about uplifting and celebrating his fellow entrepreneurs, he said.
“If we all help each other, we can win much faster,” Khalifa said. “Why rely on outside sources to build our community when we have so many here?”
The coffee served at District Biskuits is Black Drip Coffee, a local coffee brand owned by Black. The hot honey sauce on “The Charlie Hustle” sandwich is from Mother Clucker of Kansas City, and the freshly ground chicken sausage is from Wiener Kitchen in Overland Park.
Click Here to learn more about Black Drip Coffee.
RELATED: Wiener Kitchen’s chef-driven, artisan eats: This time you’ll really want to see how sausage is made
The most popular menu item at District Biskuits is “The Wonder,” Khalifa’s staple chicken biscuit breakfast sandwich named after the historic Wonder Bread building on Troost Ave.
But don’t ask him to choose his favorite menu item.
“People ask me all the time, but it’s like picking your favorite kid — you can’t!” Khalifa said smiling. “The Wonder is our best seller. The Charlie Hustle sandwich we just introduced has become super popular. People love The Crown, which is our double smash burger. OK, if I had to choose, my favorite is DB Hash; I add a drizzle of warm honey on top for a kick. Just make sure you come hungry.