Howard Hanna, Chef/Owner
Howard started working in restaurants while in high school in Manhattan, KS. Later he worked in some popular casual restaurants in Lawrence and Manhattan before helping to open Coco Bolos in 1998, first as sous chef then chef. It was there that Howard really fell in love with food; he enjoyed the creative process of writing menus and generating daily specials and the fast pace of line cooking in a really busy restaurant, while learning about the importance of hospitality through working in an open kitchen and interacting with guests. He began to read cookbooks, food magazines, food science and chefs’ memoirs voraciously, experimenting with different cuisines and cooking techniques and watching as many cooking shows as possible.
Realizing how much he had to learn, Howard moved to New York in 2001 to attend the Culinary Institute of America. He graduated first in his class in 2003 while gaining invaluable work experience first under the “Godfather of American regional cuisine” Larry Forgione, whose kitchen used an exciting array of sustainable local products then with Italian-born chef Giovanni Scappin who taught Howard a respect for simplicity and a love for pasta and risotto. Howard also worked as a student extern at Manhattan’s famed Union Square Café, where he deepened his understanding of hospitality under the country’s leading restaurateur, Danny Meyer. He continued his education in special seasonal ingredients under chefs Michael Romano and Dan Silverman. Howard also used his time in New York to eat out at some of the best restaurants in the city, and to stage at places like Le Bernardin, Oceana, Craft, the River Café, and the James Beard House.
After New York, Howard had the opportunity to travel through some of the world’s great wine regions in California, Italy and France where he toured vineyards, attended wine tastings, and ate like crazy. He enjoyed dining in some of the oldest and finest restaurants in the world, as well as taquerias, trattorias, bistros and brasseries far off the beaten path of most tourists. While in Europe, Howard worked as a stagier in the cellars of Louis Jadot, and at Michelin one star Hostellerie de Levernois in Burgundy and Michelin three star Le Jardin de Sens in Montpellier.
Howard arrived in Kansas City in the fall of 2003 and went to work as tournant at 40 Sardines for chefs Debbie Gold and Michael Smith (who he met at the James Beard House), then helped to open Room 39 as sous chef, then chef de cuisine under Ted Habiger (who he worked with at Union Square Café). In late 2007, Howard took the executive chef position at the River Club. There he revitalized and updated the city’s premier private dining facility while remaining in the public eye through events at Powell Gardens, Green Dirt Farm, Crum’s Heirlooms, Test Kitchen, and as a featured chef for Chef’s Classic and Cochon 555. Howard’s travels have taken him around the US and to Canada, Mexico, Samoa, New Zealand, Italy and France, and through the kitchens of five James Beard Award winners, two Food and Wine Best New Chefs, and five Michelin starred restaurants. Howard is thrilled to finally achieve his dream of opening his own restaurant and proud to call Kansas City home.
Colby Fuller, General Manager
Colby Fuller is a Kansas Citian, through and through…though he didn’t always know it. He grew up in Emporia, Kansas, where he worked the land on his family’s farm. It was then, at an early age, that he began developing an appreciation for the way grain, produce and livestock is grown in the Midwest.
This early interest led him to Kansas State University, where he received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Agronomy, studying more about plant health, agriculture, and soil sciences. During his education, he entered the culinary scene in Manhattan, Kansas, where he discovered local restaurants making noble use of homegrown produce. It was also there that he began his foray into fine dining.
He first made his way to Kansas City in 2009, and spent over two years at The American, an iconic upscale Kansas City restaurant. He worked his way up the front of house ladder, honing his fine dining expertise and developing an understanding of food from a renewed perspective. He took some ideas and his enthusiasm back to Emporia, where he took over a small farmstead near the family farm. He provided traditional and organically grown products to a niche that was looking for fresh, hyper-local food. It was here that Colby cultivated his passions for seasonal, locally produced foods and realized the potential of his unique skillset. More time spent with the land, crops and livestock only furthered his interests.
After three years, he headed back to Kansas City and became a part of The Rieger family. Colby has worked both front of house and back, continuing to learn from the wealth of knowledgeable staff at The Rieger. It was at The Rieger that Colby found exactly what he was looking for: a deep respect for the food and land of the Midwest, a dedication to supporting and featuring local farmers and producers, and a humble and persistent effort to provide excellent service, foster relationships, and guide and educate guests through the true farm-to-table experience.
It is from the ground up that Colby’s passion for growing and cooking blossomed, and formed into a career. From farmer, to student, to server, to the kitchen, and back again, Colby is thrilled to assume the role of General Manager for The Rieger, and continue to be a part of the rich culture and community that Kansas City’s local food scene provides.
Ryan Maybee, Partner
Ryan Maybee is a restaurateur with expertise in the fields of wine and spirits. He began his career as a bartender at a Kansas City icon, Pierpont’s at Union Station. He graduated to hold the position of sommelier at Pierpont’s and created the restaurant’s signature cocktail, “The Library Ladder”, and their 48 page cocktail menu.
His thirst for knowledge led him to become a fine wine specialist for Major Brands. This career change suited him well as he gained a greater understanding of the import business, retail sales, and learned about the different styles of restaurant wine lists. However, it wasn’t long before Maybee’s entrepreneurial nature surfaced. In 2006, he opened JP Wine Bar as co-owner and general manager. The success of JP Wine Bar allowed Maybee to invest further in his beverage education and pursue other ventures.
Maybee’s educational efforts paid off as he achieved the first level sommelier certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers, became a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) from the Society of Wine Educators, and currently holds the Advanced Level Certification while pursuing the Masters Certificate from the Beverage Alcohol Resource in New York City. Further, Maybee won the Martini Gras Bartending Competition in 2002, Bartender of the Year through the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association (2003), and was a finalist in the international Vinos de Jerez Cocktail Competition (2007).
His creative libations have received national acclaim being featured in such top-tier publications as Wine Enthusiast, Food and Wine, Market Watch, The New Yorker, Vogue, GQ, Esquire, Vanity Fair, The Bartenders Gin Compendium, and Bartender Magazine.
In 2007, Maybee turned his knowledge and experience into a comprehensive consulting business. He launched RoundTable Marketing and Consulting, which specializes in wine list and cocktail menu development, staff training, and restaurant and bar consultation. Later that year, RoundTable partnered with beverage industry expert, Doug Frost, to create the Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition. The annual competition showcases some of the most talented bartenders in Kansas City and across the Midwest.
In 2009, he opened Manifesto, a small, speakeasy-style bar focusing on classically inspired cocktails using fresh and homemade ingredients. Manifesto has received overwhelming local and national attention by being noticed in The New York Times, Esquire, and winning Small Wonder Bar of the Year 2010 by Nightclub & Bar Magazine. In 2010 Maybee teamed up with chef Howard Hanna to open the Rieger in the space directly above Manifesto.