The Plaza decided this past year to add some hot new restaurants to the mix…
The hope; to bring in new energy to what had become a way slowed down night life. The powers that be didn’t want any more down and dirty dance clubs like Blonde. Fear of blacks raiding the nearly all white Plaza at night was the obvious reason for that.
In fact one of the restaurants to get the boot, reVerse, was doing quite well.
It was replaced with yet a fourth new concept, Coal Vines. And while the "pizza and wine bar" has done pretty well – even with no bar biz and no early or late night biz, it’s not an energy builder for the ghost town the Plaza has become at night.
In fact on Sunday-Thursday you see almost nobody out walking around the Plaza after 9 PM.
And it’s not much better on Friday and Saturday. Why? There’s really nothing to do.
Yes, there are a couple – and just a couple – fairly decent crowds until 11 PM at the sports and one or two of the restaurant bars – but not much. I live near the Plaza on the Kansas side and go there often. I’m a huge fan of the Plaza.
I lived at the Sulgrave/Regency for nine years upon my return from LA in the early 90’s. In the 90’s the Plaza was a far cry from its glory days of the 70’s/80’s when it ruled the upscale night spots and clubs here. Back then, there was no hip-hop, no rap and far less trouble with the urban crowds. With the exception of Dirty Sally’s there were few race problems.
And the Plaza had triple the night crowds of today.
Now here’s the bad news, the Plaza’s three new restaurant/bar spots are all in deep trouble from what I can see.
Zocalo, the one that started out hot is now pretty quiet. I love its bar but the food is just OK. On my last three trips there the crowd was all dudes. Even on my birthday last Sunday Zocalo had last call at 10 PM because nobody was there. And this was just after the KU basketball win.
The guy behind the bar said it had been very slow lately – even St. Pats was not a biggie as Hearne reported.
They need some promo, live music, drink specials at night and a floor person with some heat to welcome people and make the place come to life. Zocalo has a lot to sell, including a nice looking bar and restaurant. It just isbn’t selling it.
And the menu does not have to be a high grade Mexican trip. Maybe a new, easier food concept would work better. Unfortunately, the word’s out on the food at Zocalo and it’s just not very popular there. It was a lot better when it first opened but that time has passed.
I also ate at Gram and Dun on birthday weekend.
Again, a beautiful bar and restaurant. Even the outdoor patio is a treat – remember Parkway 600 and Baja 600?
Gram and Dun’s problem again is THE FOOD.
I’ve been told by many others that it’s just fair. We had seafood stew and chopped chicken salad. How do you mess up a salad? Everything was just boring. It’s kinda reminds me of Sam Wilson’s in 1985!
It’s about a 40 to 50 buck a person check. It too was slow on the weeknight I was there.
I’ve not eaten at Seasons 52, but I’m hearing the same thing, average food, not very busy – well done restaurant as far as the decor ONLY.
The Capital Grille which is maybe the No. 1 nice restaurant in KC. I was there last Monday and had a wait for a table on a Monday night! With a $60-$80 check average in this economy that’s damn amazing.
Houston’s is still rock solid, even though we often forget how hot it was years ago. It’s not getting the crowds of the 90’s but it’s still going strong.
And the Cheesecake Factory of course is down from the record $14 million a year when it first opened, but still breaks $8 million a year.
And PF Chang’s still packs them in on weekends.
Stanford’s tried to put a comedy club on the Plaza twice.
The Plaza needs something like that. An energy builder for after dinner when there’s little to do.
We had landed the former 210 spot next to what became George Brett’s, but Carl Peterson (the real owner) nixed it back in 2003 due to management’s fear of young urban crowds coming to the club. Maybe they should have checked out The Legends where we are a strong, non urban theater. Legends enjoys the fact we offer the restaurants near us an extra 1,000 dinners a weekend and several hundred on weekdays. Nice.
Here’s the deal, younger crowds are needed on the Plaza.
The right crowd controlled by the right night spots. Westport finally figured that out and has doubled its attendance on weekends.
I love the Plaza, but it needs to get younger and add some fun.
It’s not a crime to have one or two nightclubs, that adds more customers to the mix. Just make sure they’re upscale clubs for the techno crowds of today.
I hope all three of these new restaurants that are off their game will fix things. It can be done.
They undoubtedly have big investments. And to be honest, Baja 600 was busier than the new Gram and Dun. when it got dumped. Zoclalo can bounce out of this funk with some changes in its format. Coal Vines is fine but needs to get a full booze card and add liquor.
The Plaza is still our best shopping and entertainment district…or it can be with a few fixes.