Richard C. Hawk

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Meet the Man Who Enjoys Doing What Others Might Deem as Impossible

This casually elegant dining establishment in the heart of southern Johnson County has become home to those seeking a great place to dine, relax, socialize, enjoy live jazz music, make memories and create new traditions.

Story by Ann Butenas

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A trusted advisor and compassionate mentor of mine once told me that the true measure of an individual is what he does for others, not for himself. If entrepreneur Richard C. “Dick” Hawk were to be measured in this light, no yard stick would be long enough; no number high enough. Where others might see challenges, Hawk discovers opportunities and has never been afraid to say “yes” to something new, as he has always had the ability to figure out how to navigate the road to success.

Even though his professional resume is peppered with a long list of distinguished accomplishments, engaging in casual conversation with Hawk would never lead one to believe that he rests his laurels on his feats. Instead, he prefers to just enjoy the moment, anticipating what other opportunities might come his way, and how he can use those to make others happy. Confidence has always been on his side; ego, however, has never made it past the front door. In fact, he won’t even allow it to knock.

Even when coaxed, Hawk is naturally reluctant to spill the contents of his noteworthy credentials. His true joy comes from the challenge of new endeavors and from simply getting to know people, hearing their stories, and sharing in incessant joy, laughter and, yes, great music with them. He’s a man of the people because, well, people are his passion. So while some folks might argue that hard work, grueling determination and relentless ambition are the primary factors for success – and Hawk is no stranger to any of those attributes – it’s clearly evident that the one common denominator across the pages of his life is that he has always loved what he was doing in the moment and has always enjoyed the people he has worked with.

“I am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up,” he laughed. And while he contemplates the potential of that statement, he keeps himself busy with his latest endeavor, one that has been growing strong since its inception in December of 2009: The Gaslight Grill.

Located in the heart of southern Johnson County, this world-class dining establishment serves not only the best in American cuisine laced with tasty international influences, it also provides heaping helpings of live jazz entertainment by the legendary Lynn Zimmer Band (with whom Hawk plays regularly on keyboard) every Wednesday through Sunday evening in Gaslight’s popular Back Room and fun all embraced with an elegant, yet comfortably casual, ambiance.


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The Gaslight Grill has some of the best steaks and seafood in town, along with an expansive menu of other mouth-watering dishes, coupled with private dining rooms for special occasions, an elegant bar and cocktail lounge offering the finest in Happy Hour libations (the hand-shaken martinis are highly recommended!) and appetizers in town. Even its highly-regarded Sunday brunch can become a habit if you’re not careful! But that’s just fine with Hawk, as The Gaslight Grill is sure to be your home away from home for a fun Friday evening out with friends, a Saturday night date, or a Sunday family gathering. And true to his friendly and approachable personality, it’s not uncommon to find Hawk mingling about the place, talking with guests and sharing laughs.

“I love meeting people, greeting new guests and catching up with the regulars,” Hawk emphasized. That passion and purpose for being is what has kept Hawk in the success lane.

In his early professional years, he worked within the arena of higher education, serving as the Director of the Division of Field Service at Emporia State University, his alma mater. From there he transitioned to become the Assistant Dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Chicago and later served as the first Executive Director of the Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Board. His entrepreneur prowess has also led him to work in the financial industry, owning several banks in Minnesota; an insurance company, a loan servicing company and a financial consulting company.

“At one point, I had 3,000 employees across the country,” said Hawk, who moved his headquarters to Kansas City in 1979.

But why stop there? Other notable accomplishments, of which there are many, include building the Country Club Hotel and Spa at Lake Ozark, where the Lynn Zimmer band played. After selling the place, Hawk realized the band needed a place to play, so why not open a restaurant? That’s just the kind of guy Hawk is…always finding ways to give to others.


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The Gaslight Grill also hosts the KC Cabaret Performers once a month and the New Red Onion Jazz Babies delight customers the first Monday of every month. The restaurant welcomes many events, including various business gatherings, launch parties for the popular Kansas City Homes & Style magazine and wedding receptions.

When he first opened the place nearly seven years ago, Hawk really didn’t know what to expect. He now appreciates that it has truly become a very popular spot. And while he may say he has no immediate plans in the works for something new and different, we suggest you stay tuned.

Hawk’s achievements have not gone unnoticed. He was awarded the honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota and the Distinguished Alumni Award by Emporia State University. The Richard C. Hawk Sports Center at Alliant University in San Diego was named in his honor. He was designated one of 50 Kansans You Should Know by Ingram Magazine and elected the first President of the National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs.

For the record, if you can’t catch the live jazz at The Gaslight Grill, then tune in each Saturday night from 11 – Midnight on KMBZ980 AM where Dick Hawk’s Gaslight Jazz airs, recorded earlier in the evening in the Back Room in front of a live audience.

For more information on Mr. Hawk and The Gaslight Grill, visit them online at gaslightgrill.com or call 913.897.3540.

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