Skills: Strategic planning; project management; tenant development; lease and license negotiation; business coaching and development; budget; design and construction; codes and regulations; staffing; building operations.

About this Project

Carmen played a pivotal role in bringing the highly regarded Cosmo Burger to Lenexa Public Market through strategic planning, project management, creative problem solving, sheer grit and determination. It was July of 2022, and the smash burger concept with craft cocktail bar had made it to the construction completion in time to celebrate the market’s fifth anniversary.

Cosmo Burger was the final jewel in the crown. Named one of Feast Magazine’s Best Restaurants of 2021, the reviewer noted the concept had “quickly become one of the most revered burgers in all of Kansas City.”

Owners Atit and Jugal Patels were looking at a variety of locations for close to a year, but Carmen proved their biggest cheerleader out of the gate. “Carmen never gave up. She was insistent and persistent on us being part of the market,” says Jacob Kruger, chef and operator.

To execute the vision the businessmen had for their second location, Carmen served as lease negotiator and project mediator between the owners, the construction crew and the City of Lenexa. Her deep understanding of restaurant infrastructure allowed the owners to maximize their space: The second Cosmo Burger space has room for a 6-foot griddle large enough to cook 30 patties at a time versus only 15 patties at their original Waldo location. “She was always eager to be involved in the process of planning,” Kruger says. “She was
very helpful, a good source of information, and (she was) always looking out for what was needed in the space. In my opinion, she has a really great knack for keeping things lighthearted and keeping things going.”

Always intentional and strategic about the merchant mix, Carmen spent five years creating an atmosphere that valued problem solving and collaboration over competition. “Community is the number one thing I appreciate,” Kruger says. “The market has built a great sense of community. Within the first few meetings, we felt welcome. I love that
aspect, and I do enjoy that it’s a growing area.”

Given the key role she played in getting the project over the finish line, Kruger insists it was only fitting Carmen should be honored with the first burger to come off the griddle on opening day. “She was very persistent on making sure this was going to happen. Goals were set for herself, me and everybody involved. We were going to see it through,” Kruger says. “I could see how much (receiving the first burger) meant to her. I could see the tears in her eyes. She was emotionally invested in our business.”

“The market has built a
great sense of community. Within the first few meetings, we felt welcome. I love that aspect, and I do enjoy that it’s a growing area.”

Jacob Kruger

Cosmo Burger | Lenexa Public Market

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