Hearne: Raising the Roof – Will Kelly’s New Upper Deck Cure P&L Woes?

When it comes to esteemed local watering holes Kelly’s Westport Inn is in a class by itself…

For starters, how many joints can lay claim to operating in a building 160 years old? Kelly’s can. And for decades the third generation family has ushered it through time appealing to a diverse crowd of youngsters, oldersters, hipsters – you name it – they have it.

That said, the Power & Light District opening two years back took a toll on the bar’s core party demographic, the ever-thirsty, 20-something, training wheels drinkers who like to flee the burbs and party like banshees on weekend nights.

Add to that, the most sour economy in recent memory, Kansas City’s smoking ban, DUI checkpoints galore and a general trailing off of the nightlife action in Westport.

Enter Kelly’s coming soon, new outdoor deck…

Fingers are tightly crossed that the 1,125 square foot Randal’s Roost – named for Kelly’s founder – will restore the bar’s lost luster in time for the spring and summer nightlife season.

“It’s almost done,” says Westport businessman Bill Nigro. “The steps are in and they are going to be open by St. Patrick’s Day.”

One wildcard: while Kelly’s reportedly half-million dollar east-facing deck will doubtless be a magnet for smokers, will it bring back the jokers?

Its less than glam view of Westport may or may not do the trick.

Too bad they somehow were unable to position the deck facing south, looking out over the Bourbon Street of Kansas City, Westport Road.

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16 Responses to Hearne: Raising the Roof – Will Kelly’s New Upper Deck Cure P&L Woes?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Kelly’s – Get more tech and social networking savvy. We want to see u succeed! The P&L might have taken a chunk out of your younger core demographic but you also have to evolve. You have such a rich KC & Westport history it would highlight well online. If you aren’t on their FB pages and cell phones, you’ll get forgotten, new high dollar roost and all. Good luck with it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    many many drunken nights at kellys.
    Hope the guys get it back but it appears that
    westport is dead. Too much bad publicity and
    a deck might not help much since there are several already in westport.
    Red/Big John and the other bartenders made one
    hell of a drink. One night we got so plastered
    we ran into “the beaver” jerry mathers and
    tony dow “his big brother”..what a night that
    was. We did some serious drinking with those
    Good luck to kellys…miss those incredible
    poontang hunting days.

  3. Anonymous says:

    agree with JOJO, too little too late for Kelly’s, my son is 21, went to KU, never heard of Kelly’s. They lost their generational pull, as has Westport. They were too arogent to promote their place when they needed too, and now they are nearly done. I went there over Xmas to meet my college buddies, dead. That was on a non snow Friday at ten p.m. I hate seeing that. NO the deck will not fix it, busy on St. Pats and a few weekends and that will be the end of it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You guys are right. I used to hang there, almost never do anymore. I am singel in my 40’s and look for nice lookin girls when I go out. I used to see them in Kelly’s, not much anymore. In fact some nights few women and mixed crowds.

    I think part of the problem is that the Kelly brothers are not “hip” they are not outfront guys, like Nigro is, they are kinda keekie. Especially Pat,he used to be kinda cool, but now he seems a bitter old guy. And its almost never full anymore, little energy. Maybe have Nigro be there outfront guy, he is a fun guy, see him at Beaumont and his other clubs, good people. No deck will not save them.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Westport and Kellys are just nowhere like they used to be. Even when you had the hip hop crowd in the streets was better, at least someone was there.

    I go downtown now or Waldo/Brookside. More then anyone the Kelly’s ruined westport, they only loved themselves and their place. Had they followed Nigro, maybe they wouldn’t be going broke and out of biz in the next two years. Not good guys.

  6. Anonymous says:

    So glad others now are saying it, the Kelly’s are real jerks. I was a regular there when the older Kelly Randy had it, cool, cool dude. I was even under age and they let me in back then, fun place. But when the two hateful brothers took over Kyle and fatguy, not sure his name, fat and drunk. The place was never the same. Man they hated everyone, Nigro,Stan Glazer, Clever, The Harris House, Jews and especially blacks. I know cause they always said so, by the way I’m a jew.

    Westport screwed itself when it let Johny Dares go and kicked out the Glazers, they were loud and showy, but man they knew how to bring the crowds. I think Bill Nigro is good at that took, but the Kellys still try and run that area, whats left of it, I no longer go there. Deck or not.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Buncha Crybabies
    Wow, you all are a bunch of crybabies. Westport is dead, wah, wah. Please, Westport is not dead and is not dying, they are just trying to keep all of the JOCO rifraff out. Nothing worse than a bunch of babies complaning that a place doesn’t look/feel like cookie cutter JOCO bar (white, 80’s music)

  8. Anonymous says:

    Jojo, there you go again. tinkle, tinkle. You are a buzz kill, man.
    And I cannot imagine any woman finding your cynicism and sour attitude engaging in the least. Those days must really be in the past.

  9. Anonymous says:

    tracy..loearn to read..i love kellys…havent
    been there in about 2 years…don’t go to
    westport but in the day we ran that area.
    As far as women…no problem here. Got one and
    that’s all i need. But every once in a while
    i get out and play some with the young ones
    in their 20’s/early 30’s.

  10. Anonymous says:

    So you really aren’t gay JoJo? You would hate kelly’s now, slow, lame, trashy crowds, few college kids anymore,I’m older but still like to look JoJo. Nigro has a new bar, its cool next to old pizza place Torre’s met a hot one in there, sorry don’t know name but easy to find.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Man have I been interested in this Kelly’s stuff. Worked there for six years, a bartender, worked with Red, he was a great guy, think he’s gone now, he was there like 25 years. The Kelly’s Kyle and Pat, convinced me and all who worked or came in there that they ran Westport and what awful people Nigro,Glazer,Tim(westprot president)and Loyd Edge were. They really hated the Glazers alot. Said they were gangsters and drug addicts and were destroying westport with their dance club, which drew mostly blacks and if they could get rid of them, westport would be saved.

    Over a mix up on my work days, I got fired. Latter worked for Beaumont, not only was Nigro nice, he was fair and never badmouthed anyone, not even the Kellys who hated him. One year latter, due to slow business on weeknights at the volley ball field for Beaumont, got a job with Stanfords, bartending. If they were in the mob, it sure was kept quiet, I know Craig partied, who didn’t. At that time, he was also good to me and he and their staff were very well organized and pretty sharp. Had a nice time working for both families, nicer than the kelly’s. So all the crap I heard about these other people was not true. What was also not cool, is that Kyle was a former coke addict, in A.A. or N.A. he shouldn’t be saying things about others when he was a drug user himself. And his brother is a mean drunk who got arrested for wife beating. So screw them and their deck.

  12. Anonymous says:

    STUART…good trash talking. Love to hear the
    Tracy: you’re wrong again…everyone but me
    hates the kellys (got boat repairs at kellys
    at lake)….I like the kellys personally…
    spent some good night in there…

  13. Anonymous says:

    Rainbow Man
    Look… We all know what makes a bar successful for the long, long term. Lots of opportunity to meet members of the opposite sex, with similar socioeconomic interests of your own, without the risk of getting shot. Mix in a little tradition and some pull of the 40 and over crowd in the early hours and you got yourself a good gig.
    As far as I am concerned, Kelly’s and The Quaff are the king bars of KC. They just do not take any crap off of anyone, but they give excellent service. I feel very safe in both of them. They are two very different places, but they are well run.
    Hey Good Luck to Kelly’s. He is fighting the good fight and putting some money into his place. He has skin in the game.

  14. Anonymous says:

    As far as the Kelly’s personal lives go I don’t really care. Who didn’t cheat on their wife and do blow in the 80s? These two were handed a bar from their dad at a young age. I don’t know about you, but it sounds like the learning curve on that one might be pretty big especially in the party days of the 80s. These guys are in their fifties now and I am sure have calmed down a bit. I heard both have gone to rehab and have given over a hundred thousand dollars to Welcome House (a home for recovering alcoholics) over the last decade (among different philanthropies and I believe the cover charged on St. Pats goes directly to them. I am personally glad that the meat market at Kelly’s ended a couple of years ago. There were always way more guys than girls. Now after a couple of slow years, Kelly’s has built the weekend crowd back up and most importantly the guy/girl ratio has now evened out. I have been there a lot in the past few weeks and it has been standing room only…. especially on Fridays when they have a band. So enjoy your high-priced sausagefest at P&L, I am going to stick to Westport.

  15. Anonymous says:

    serious man…thats a very serious post.
    Now…tell the pootang hounds out there…
    how much pootange is at kellys and where aned
    when should the hounds be hounding?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Boogey Man
    Got hookers for Kyle’s buddy Doug Weltner, Kyle always had girlfriend or two, who wanted chunkie monkey Pat? Always liked Kelly’s, not so much anymore, there day is past.

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