For more than half a century Kelly’s Westport Inn ruled the bar scene here…
People even used to refer to Westport as KELLYS-PORT through the early 1990’s. No more. With its business off more than 50% since the late 90’s, a bar that once grossed an incredible $2 million a year when that was major money has fallen well below $1 million annually.
And that’s cost them clout with the city. For decades Kelly’s was the home away from home of the men in uniform – cops, firemen – not so much anymore.
The Kellys were Westport from the late 50’s up until, well. Stanford & Sons came into being in 1975.
Oh, the Kelly’s put up one helluva a fight to stop Stanford Glazer from ever opening. They would not sign off on Stanford’s liquor license, forcing Stan to take court action in 1974. This was the beginning of bad blood between the Kelly’s, Stanfords and the Glazers. It didn’t end there.
Rumors abounded that it was Kelly’s who put the heat on the myself and Stanford’s all those years. Stanford’s had a BEER NIGHT on Wednesdays that crushed. There were lines down the street, all college people types, it emptied Kelly’s and filled Stanford’s. Pitchers of beer for just a buck and five bucks to get in -genius – created by my brother Jeff Glazer. This the beginning of these types of nights all over KC.
The Kellys alerted Vice and Liquor Control that we were OVERPOURING and pitchers were being sold at a loss.
A hearing was held and Stanford’s got a two-week closing penalty but was able to keep beer night when later it was proven that the pitchers were served at a five cent profit. Stanford’s was subsequently RAIDED two or three times a month by Vice looking for underage drinkers, dopers and so on. On a couple Wednesday nights more than 500 patrons were forced to leave the building, be checked for IDs and then let go. Kinda ruining the business on those nights. It netted TWO people under 21 in a couple months of raids. And another two week closure for Stanford’s.
In the meantime Kelly’s – once famous for "if you can reach the bar, you get a beer" – was never raided or sited for anything, EVER. O,h the cops would do a walk through now and again, but all with a smile and a wink. We’ll get those jew fucks next door instead.
After all, we Glazers were bad guys.
We used drugs, drove fast cars, had too many woman, were not good Christians. We were just bad – bad to the bone. Odd, Kyle Kelly had several years of, uh, problems until he got help. And his brother, co owner Pat, had many personal issues as well.
No matter, they were the white knights and we were the black knights.
All this was before Stanford’s opened a dance club that eventually went urban.
Believe me, that was not our intention. We wanted to attract the KU, MU, UMKC crowds. But the hip-hop rage took us over in 1994. Prior to that the Kelly’s had blocked the expansion of our restaurant, the addition of our pool room, everything.
Bill Nigro tried to act as a go between but they wouldn’t listen to him either. In fact Kyle Kelly called me and asked that I go downtown to City Hall and back him to have Nigro’s Torres Pizza truck removed from Westport, "Because it drew the wrong crowd that started problems in the area."
This all before the black crowds had desended on Westport.
Kyle was a childhood friend of Nigro. No matter. Bill was saving that pizza truck money for his little girls’ college educations. No matter. I refused to back him and thus began my friendship with Nigro. As it turned out Kelly’s was simply trying to up the sales of their late night pizza sold next door to their bar. Many other things occured, too many to list. Let’s just say the bad blood never was fixed.
We offered to smoke the peace pipe with the Kellys but it never happened.
Today, Kelly’s has many issues. Its business is way down. It’s far less known by college kids. There are no more huge Big 12 weeks. No more big weekends except St. Patricks Day. They still own that one.
Another odd thing, the older brother, Randy – who once was the owner right after their father – moved to the Ozarks years ago. He was a cool guy: Handsome, drove a Jag, nothing like Kyle and brother Pat. Sharp guy. He opened Kelly’s Landing in the Ozarks, did great and never came back. You never see him in Westport or with his younger brothers. Strange. I think we could have worked with Randy, but who knows?
Kellys has never had any real legal problems with the booze stories. Yes, a few pople have been killed in or around the place, but it’s never an issue with the law. Stanford’s was always the bad guy. But hey, Stanford’s in Westport is gone now.
The Legends in KCK has been a pleasant experience compared to all the jealousy in Westport. Mostly from the Kelly’s faction but others as well. Stanford’s has no enemies at Village West, except for snow and ice.
Four years and not one issue. What a difference 20 miles makes.
As for the recent incident with the young man who died, Brian Euston. He may have been overpoured at Kelly’s, but who knows? The Kellys wouldn’t be the first to do so, in their defense. There are lots of customers and it’s hard to watch them all. Still with a .387 blood alcohol content, he shouldn’t have been served to begin with.
The Kelly’s have never been called on the carpet for anything before.
It’s always been a case of them being the do-gooders and everybody else, the bad guys.
In 2004, Stanford’s became Johnny Dare’s, a smash hit club that could have saved Westport. The only problem was it was too small without the pool room, dance club and of course comedy. We tried in vein to get comedy back, but it was blocked by the neighborhood and very likely, the Kellys.
They won, we left.
But I said then, "If we go, you will fall, we are the heart and soul of Westport."
Turned out I was right, Westport has never been what it was since. Stanford’s had a real restaurant, pool room, dance and comedy club that drew thousands every weekend. And those people moved about and ate and drank in many other Westport clubs, mostly…Kelly’s.
Ah, the good old days.