The year was 1974 and Stanford Glazer looked around the old print shop, owned by Walter Langdon …
The Langsdon’s wanted $125,000 for the old building – the former Jim Bridger building – the oldest standing building in Kansas City. Instead Stan decided to lease the place for around $4,000 a month. He beat out Victor Fontana and it opened as Stanford and Sons in April 1975.
To say it was a smash hit, would be an understatement.
Stan had a few partners; me, Jerry Mays (former Chiefs great), his cousin Lenard Glazer, as well as the law firm that housed the Craig brothers and Steamer brothers. Nice group. Within two years Stan bought out his partners, except me.
Stanford and Sons with its "flower pot bread" and fun menu would rival Houlihan’s on the Plaza for the ONE fun spot in KC to see and be seen. For months you couldn’t get in the place it was so packed. I remember as a young asst. manager being told by a male customer, "You guys will never make it, too busy." Those were the days two hour lunch waits and 3-4 hour waits on weekend nights for dinner.
In 1979/80 I went to LA, to see the Rolling Stones concert with Stevie Wonder. And I stopped in the Improv, which was still fairly new, on Melrose. I met Robin Williams who had just left Mork and MIndy TV series. Robin was trying to be a full-time stand up comic. He offered to stop in at Stanfords and practice for his big show at Kemper.
He did and the rest is history. We became a nationally known club.
All the stars called and wanted to play our comedy club. Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks, Roseanne Barr, Elayne Boosler, Gabe Kaplan, Jimmie Walker. Our club was scouted for shows like, "Star Search" where they came in and found David Naster and Sinbad. Stanford’s went on to become the best known, most important entertainment venue in the city’s history. No argument.
Stanford’s has been mentioned and written about all over the world as one of the places where it all began. Today we are still talked about on THE TONIGHT SHOW, CHELSEA HANDLER, LETTERMAN, and LOPEZ (he worked our club).
But all good things come to an end.
Like Hearne wrote in the Kansas City Star on the front page, when we became Johnny Dare’s in 2004. "All things end even flower pot bread." Sadly he was right. A 30 year run ended. A year later we left Westport for good (unless we come back).
How hot was the location?
Well, in 2000 I offered the Langdons $1 million for the building. By then it was worn down and needed lots of work. They wanted $2 million. Best deal I never made. Greed got the better of them. We told them without us, there was no Westport or value to the building.
Time proved us right.
They sold the building in 2006 for $220,000 dollars. Of course, we had paid them more than $2 million in rent over 30 years. They did raise the rent over the years.
Today there’s a plaque on the outside of the building, proclaiming the Bridger Building and former Stanford’s as a historical landmark. Bridger and pal Kit Carson took wagon trains out west from that spot in the 1800’s. It’s named the oldest building. Kelly’s claims that title, but paperwork uncovered by the KC Star’s Joyce Smith proved that the Bridger building was about 6 months older. I can see why the Kelly’s thought that. The Langdon print shop was not exactly in the news back then.
Stanford’s more than anything else put Westport on the map.
Along with Kelly’s, The Prospect and Old Stanley’s, Westport became the ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT of Kansas City. I could write a book on this. Maybe I will.
Ah, the good old days, gone and forgotten by most of us. But not me. Now the building is up for sale again. A shadow of what it once was and will never be again.