Glazer: Scribe Unleashes His Chompers, Drops the Hammer on Plaza Nightlife

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.

Plaza’ winners:

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.

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29 Responses to Glazer: Scribe Unleashes His Chompers, Drops the Hammer on Plaza Nightlife

  1. Smartman says:

    Flip Flop
    You go from praising the Plaza, previously saying on many occasions that LA doesn’t have anything like it……actually it does, it’s called THE GROVE, and it kicks the Plaza’s ass….to writing the obit for it. Is the Plaza glass half full or half empty.

  2. King of Stink says:

    Really?
    I’ve heard nothing but good things about the food at Gram and Dun. It’s got 4 out of 5 stars on Yelp, out of 52 reviews. That’s pretty damned impressive. The problem is, you ordered “seafood stew.” What?

    Furthermore, The Capital Grille hasn’t been innovative since your hair was real, dude. Real people who like real food aren’t impressed with it.

    And just for laughs, I checked out Yelp’s reviews of Stanford’s. Out of 6 reviews– that’s right, SIX– it’s got a robust “2” out of 5. Really, Glazer?

  3. harley says:

    reasons.
    the problem with the plaza is really simple. The economy cut its business. And when similar type places opened up
    out south there was no reason to go to the plaza.
    During the 80’s there wasn’t anywhere else to go but the plaza and westport…now the youngcrowd has
    the well and waldo…out south there’s a sportsbar or regular bar on every corner…p and l and
    westport…lees summitt area has ther own place to party…north has their places to party…so the
    competition is keen andfpeople like to stay close to home because of dui’s…
    the plaza lost its identity…took away the local flavor…what made it different….
    and there 10 times the competition for the entertainment and food dollar than in the 80’s and 90’s…

    as far as yonger crowds…just wwatch theirsocial interaction…not much with dating sites…email..facebook…
    etc…just no need for them to gou ut and get blitzed……theyre more conservative…and the economy really
    hit them harder this time and they don’t have the disposble incomes.
    So glaze…the plaza may never reach the powerhouse it once was. Too muc hcompetition but those upscale
    places have to be doing big numbers…capital grille/plaza 3…and mccormicks…
    as far as yelp whoever wrot that…it’s phony…bullshit….someone with a grduge against someone
    can easily drop a bad review in….i wrote a review on travel advisor and what a bunch of b.s. i read on there.
    to each his own opinion…
    some of the best places i found were the places a lot of people woulndt go to…great…better for me.
    Does standfords deserve 2 star or whatever they got…hell no…great place and i’m sure even with
    that bullshit yelp glaze is doing very well there….

  4. balbonis moleskine says:

    The plaza needs new life, but it can’t do that with the current rents. Unsustainable. You won’t see under 40 crowd on the plaza as anyone with any sense in this economy isn’t going to pay 50 dollars a head at a “Gastropub”, which last time I went to jolly ole england meant “a pub that has some food”.

    Capital Grille and Season 52 are chains owned by the company that owns Olive Garden. Heck even Cap Grille is out of the price range of anyone at the giant, monoltihic insurance defense firm twho is under 40! A young lawyer there makes about 75k a year. Hardly Cap Grille black card territory. They can only afford to eat there if they are on the firms’ dime.

    Waldo and Westport and to a lesser extent Crossroads are where young people who go into the city go. PnL is for people from Nebraska in for the weekend.

  5. Hearne says:

    No hypocrisy here, sorry
    Craig’s still praising the Plaza.

    He’s only now noting here that of its four new eateries only one is doing halfway OK and putting out a quality product.

    I agree with him on Coal Vines. Nice guys, good vibe, good food but they close (or did) at something like midnight and don’t have a full bar. That’s leaving a lot on the table.

    Zocalo, Craig liked at first – mostly for the hipster scene and it started with a bang. However I also know that that did not last and times are now tough down there. Happens in the burbs too. A new place opens and there are two hour waits on Friday and Saturday nights.

    But once the dining out public gets a reading – good or bad – it either continues to be successful or becomes a ghost town and can die out pretty darn quick.

    There’s no hypocrisy here, just a little history and an update.

  6. Hearne says:

    Give me a break on Yelp…
    Anybody and everybody can tilt those online food reviews, just like they can on Amazon for books by minor, local authors who get very little feedback. Same for products.

    When I shop Amazon, I mostly read the negative reviews because I know there’s a lot less chance those are faked. That’s where I often find the best critical thinking. But I imagine most people look at the percentage. Like 93 good reviews and 7 bad ones – it must be good.

    Since the devil is usually in the details, the negative reviews if written well are often quite insightful and you learn what you’re not getting and/or what doesn’t work very well with the product.

    Bagging on Craig for Stanford’s food? Really? Are you joking?

    They don’t even have a kitchen. It’s like nachos and microwave junk food. Nobody goes to Stanford’s to dine.

    Why do you think Craig pointed out that people eat at other restaurants at the Legends and didn’t honk his own horn?

    Some of you guys need to think these things through a little more before you hit the “post comment” button.

  7. harley says:

    thanks hearne
    1. thanks for backing me up on these internet reviews…yelp etc.are bogus…and the guy who so gladly pointed
    out glazes 2 rating should have read the other reviews…lots of mad people…if you don’t like the food…pay and
    don’t go back…because essentially i dont give a damn about someone selses opinion. Thanks hearne..
    you’re agreeing with me (wow!!!!!!!!!!!)
    2. since when is standford an eating establishment? used to be…excellent food downstairs…but if you
    wnt gourmet food at his place you are in the wrong place. However..some of those foods are pretty good.
    especially after 3 or 4 drinks and some laughter.
    3. good job hearne…you’re finally seeing the light!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. mermaid says:

    Gram and Dun..
    Sunk a lot of money into Parkway and did a nice job of renovating it. We should be glad they are here. I have been there and know the owners- all great people. The food is good and I like the place. You must have had a problem with something or you wouldn’t have written a bad review. As far as Zocolo – it’s horrible- I could make better mexican food in the microwave than that. Season’s 52 has a concept of everything on the menu being under so many calories and some great selections of salads and the deserts are really fun served in little glasses so you can order several and try them. Why so gloomy about the Plaza?

  9. Matt Heder says:

    Yelp…
    Yelp has review filtering software in place. The weed out the fake reviews. You can usually tell what’s fake and what’s not by looking at the reviewer’s profile. If they have more than one review and an actual picture of themselves, it’s probably a safe bet that it’s real.

    to the other point that was made people can review every kind of business imaginable– its not just restaurants. so when Stanfords gets two stars, its being compared to other places of that nature. its not based off the food alone.

    third, like it or not, yelp is immensely popular and will only grow bigger. sites like yelp can make or break a business. its slowly catching on in kc, but look at places like LA, Chicago and NYC. Yelp is HUGE. pretending that it’s all bogus is like an old person saying that the “internet will never catch on.”

  10. Yelp has one problem says:

    It’s populated by utter morons. Usually the reviewer invalidates their opinion in the first fucking line of their own review (

  11. Matt Heder says:

    Oh, My Mistake
    You don’t like it, so it must be totally invalid. Great point.

    I agree that there’s a lot of bullshit on it, but that’s like anything else on the Internet. You have to be smart enough to discern the shit from the truth yourself.

  12. Rorke, of Rorke's drift says:

    Occam’s Razor
    Could it be, that the most obvious explanation is the correct explanation?

    Were there not, on this blog, TKC’s blog, the Pitch and the KC Star, over the last 12 months, with respect to the riots on the Plaza, some concerns about tenants leaving and customers never returning?

    Did tenants leave? Yes.

    Is the Plaza still a destination shopping and dining area such as it was prior to the Flash Mobs and near shooting of the Mayor? No.

    Are people from Johnson County still as motivated today, as they were, prior to the uprisings and racial violence of last summer, to venture over into Missouri and risk a threat of violence on teh Plaza? Probably not.

    Harley is probably correct in his hypothesis, and that, with the danger of racial unrest has sealed the Plaza’s fate.

    On this very blog, this very day, the conversation concerning cost and quality of food and entertainment on the Plaza, is tertiary to the underlying necrosis and decay of a once great attraction in this city, which now languishes in the face of logically expected violence.

    Craig has reported the revival of Westport, and in no uncertain terms, made it clear (Refreshingly honest, that Glazer guy.) that that same revival is 100% due to the death of America’s Pub and the Hip/Hop violence and thuggery that accompanied same.

    The food, the rent, the economy, etc etc are part of the problems, that in fact, could be fixed, if in fact black people would stop beating and assaulting the patrons of the Plaza.

    The reason the Plaza is declining, and it is, is because of violence and intimidation by black people.

    This summer, they will hand out Victoria Cross’ with dessert at the Cheescake Factory.

  13. Robertoe says:

    Plaza and the P&L are the dreaded fatcat outatown 1%ers
    You guys are missing a key social trend on this discussion.

    Cordish at P&L and Highwoods on the Plaza have been the outa town fat cats who have done a horrible job with PR and understanding local sentiments. Highwoods has the image of being totally aloof. The Posinelli fiasco. And how do you follow that up witht that Seasons 52 do-a-totally-different style, screw the Seville look for one more outa town chain? And folks are pissed off at the way Cordish came in and threw their weight around so they could suck profits outa town and let KCMO deal with the guaranteed debt. I hate both of these outfits. They are the 1%ers.

    And I went into Graham and Dunn for the first time. My date ordered a well bloody mary- $11! I’ve had that same experience in P&L too. That’s tough economics for us drunks!

    Now the Crossroads, Westport, Brookside, and Waldo are full of good down home LOCAL patrons and owners, many of which I’ve had strong likeable realtionships with for years. They feel like community. Neighbors. Because they are! They are the 99%. Thats where I want to spend my drink and eat money.

    And its humorous to see folks here slam Yelp because theres too much BS and not enough filter. Gee. I wonder where else that happens online?

    Its good to see the same crazies still posting here so I figured I’d reemerge. Did you miss me?

    Now from this context is it hard to figure out who’s booming?

  14. harley says:

    first…welcome back robertoe…
    where you been….drilling for oil in dakota…designing the keystone pipeline…miss ya…
    some good lines in your first comment…
    1. seriuosly doubt that the few black incidents on the plaza are killing it. I am seeing an incredible boom in the
    economy…and for retailers coming out of the “recession” it may take some time. Its what i call positioning…
    how the plaza positioned intself.. 500,000 will come to the art fair (or according to hearnes people counter 28)
    …they can still draw for events…i still see young people living in the mark twain and area apartments…condos
    like churchill…its still cool to liveon the plaza. But people…the young people today are so differnet..no comparison
    to the wild wild west of the 80’s and 90’s…its just a differnet era. We were rebels…wild…partiers…and there will never
    be days like that again. The city has spread out…people live past 200th in joco…up north to the airport..
    east to bum fuck…and west to lawrence..its different…more close entertainment and pople just don;t
    drink like before. We’d blow $200-$300 a nite drinking… plus other things…no big deal…this downturn especially
    hit the 25-40 year olds just getting started..i saw it firt hand…
    2. peoples taste have changed. Once not fasionable to shop at target…but now I know lots of people with big
    incomes who go there…women will buy $500 purses and wear clothes from old navy…crazy…
    so the once unique shops at the plaza are no longer unique and you can find the same stores at
    town center or zona rosa…no need to travel anymore.
    3. plaza restaurants… 1. capital grille…i get a better steak out south at sullivans. 2. seafood; not many out
    south…but i could choose one…3. sushi…kona grille used to be good not i can get 9 sushi places with great
    food within 10 minutes of my house…
    4. people used to go in style to the plaza…get dressed…now people think jeans are dressed up…few suits
    …few nice nice dress up occasions…everyones casual all the time…so the lure of the plaza has changed…
    not the upscale image it once had…
    whether you like or not…the demograhics of america has changed. Went to a politcal seminarv 4 months ago…
    heard a speaker toalk about the changing deographic of the country. Its changed since we were young…
    the attitudes have changed…we would frown on interacial dating…girls with girls…etc…now its commonplace.
    Tjhe fastest growing segments are hispanics nad blacks…in 2016 they will control the elections…they will
    control the entire electoral college in 2016 and 2020…and we’re seeing the start of that…obama only needs
    to get 68% of hispanic vote and he’s assured election…romney can’t get that so he’s cooked before may.
    so either yu get used to this new mulitcultural (including an exploding asian infulence) america or you
    fade away…its coming. Either we face the social and economic problems or we spiral….
    pretty simple basec on stats and demographics…get used to it…and iff we don’t solve these problems
    we have trouble.
    The world has changed glaze…even in larger cities…i have a friend with a once popular club in dallas
    and he’s facing the same4 thing..
    its a change thats coming…get used to it….and remember our parents said the exact same thing when we
    were growing up…
    ROBERTOE…OBAMA S GONNA APPROVE PIPELINE FROM OKLAHOMA TO GULF…WHAT DOES THAT
    MEAN FOR OIL INDUSTRY????????????????

  15. expat says:

    LOL at Harley’s Vision of the Future (TM). He’s right about demographic change but it’s hardly going to be a Bright Shiny Future it’s going to be a disaster like Detroit, Washington DC, Zimbabwe, South Africa, California, Mexico or anywhere else non-Asian minorities control the political process.

  16. chuck says:

    Glad to see ya back Robertoe.
    🙂

  17. harley says:

    expat…read much?
    if you would have read the article…you would have seen/read that i said we have many problems associated with this
    changing demographic in the naion and that we have serious challenges….not just with minorities…but with the
    huge entitlement programs as the boomers hit social secutry age….that plus the changing dynamics of
    revenues….i wrote we have to solve these problems or we spiral….
    you mention some hot spots…but many of these economic concerns will be reduced on jan 1.2013…
    california has suffered…mexico is a bout to explode…detroit….but these are the challenges that are coming
    and with a growing population…where do we start…..

  18. theKCeye says:

    Less sports, more of this…
    I enjoy reading this type of stuff from you, Glazer. Good stuff.

  19. expat says:

    Oh the hubris
    Harley are you calling that rambling hot ghetto mess of a comment you threw up on here an article? If so here are a few words you might want to know: punctuation, grammar, spell check, thesis. Besides, it doesn’t say what you claim.

    What economic concerns in Detroit/Zimbabwe/etc. will be reduced on Jan 1 2013 and how?

  20. musicman says:

    Fixing the Plaza
    Here is an idea to fix the Plaza nightlife:

    One or two clubs that hire some of the great musical talent from Austin Texas, Houston, Washington State, NYC and elsewhere. Knuckleheads showcases some of these musicians some of the time, but there is nothing else to do within walking distance of the Knuckleheads neighborhood area once the show is over.

    For an instructive example, several months ago, the legendary Billy Joe Shaver sold out Knuckleheads. The show was incredible, the place was on fire, and this was a SUNDAY night. Billy Joe Shaver, as great as he is, is not exactly a household name in KC, but if people were to go to one of his shows, they’d likely be back for more……..

    Here is a list of musicians, most of whom would love a place in a town like Kansas City to play regularly, ESPECIALLY if there was an outstanding, comfortable venue that holds about 1000 people and has good accoustics and a dance floor:

    1. Bob Schneider 2. Ruthie Foster 2. Cody Canada (used to be Cross Canadian Ragweed) 3. Lucinda Williams 4. Slaid Cleaves 5. James McMurtry 6. The Gourds 7. Ray Wylie Hubbard 8. Mose Allison 9. Jimmie LaFave
    10. Spoon 11. Patty Griffin 12. Gurf Morlix 13. Billy Joe Shaver 14. Charlie Robison 15. Bruce Robison & Katie Willis
    16. John McCuen (of the Dirt Band) 17. Rodney Crowell 18. Del Castillo 19. Toni Price 20. Marcia Ball 21. Black Joe Lewis and the Honeydrippers 22. The Jayhawks 23. The Resentments 24. Joe Ely 25. Monte Montgomery 26. The Derrick Trucks Band 27. Raul Malo with or without the Mavericks 28. Robert Earl Keen 29. Stere Earle 30. Alejandro Escovedo
    31. Todd Snider

    I could easily think of 20-30 more of these type of skilled, inspiring musicians, and certainly there are other greats out there who have escaped my radar, even though I am somewhat of an expert, and have a radio show during which I play this type of music, which generally goes under the catalogue entry “Americana”.

    Each and every one of these musicians/groups are enormously entertaining, yet they (mostly) struggle to find good venues, and are grateful to find a decent venue such as Austin’s late Clifford Antone used to provide. Austin has about 12-15 such venues; The Plaza could EASILY support two. Once the 21-55 year-olds hear these musicians once, they will be hooked and will certainly come back for more…….

    Each of these musicians could play a Friday and a Saturday night. The rest of the nights could easily be filled by up-and-comers from the KC area, who badly need a decent showcase to grow a fan base.

    There may be no other way to quickly revitalize the Plaza ……………………………

    Glazer, people make fun of you all the time for being a blowhard know-it-all, but here is a subject for which you actually would qualify as an expert.

    Do you have any responses? How about the rest of you blogsters?

  21. Beena says:

    Paul Wilson
    where are you?

    no comments?

    You must be working on that shipping business

  22. Rainbow Man says:

    Many Factors
    Over the last 15 years… Waldo and Brookside bars took in the entire Mission Hills, PV, Brookside, Plaza college kid market.

    One factor is that even the wealthy college kids in the Brookside Plaza neighborhoods still don’t want to go to contrived conceptual bars with lots of plaster facades and cool signs. They would much rather hang at The Peanut on Main, Hoopers, and the entire Waldo Bar Scene… which is huge. The old Falloon was a great place. Tomfooleries was pretty fun at one time.

    People like local owners. Even 21 year olds. They like real places with local personality.. even if that brings some grit… smudgy menus.. cheap domestic beer, and food in plastic baskets.

  23. NoJoCo says:

    They’re in Waldo
    Spot on, Rainbow.
    Lew’s, Well, 75th, Quinton’s, Kennedy’s and Bobby Bakers. That’s where the former “Plaza” crowd hangs and the Plaza is going to struggle to get them back.

  24. bschloz says:

    Plawza
    I’ve hit GD a couple of times for lunch…I think its great. I like this new group “BRGR and Urban Table”….reminds me of a new PBJ group.

    I’m long a little $YELP God Dammit I feel alive!

  25. paulwilsonkc says:

    Musicman, drop me an email
    Thanks!

  26. Musicman says:

    I would but
    I have no idea what your address is.

  27. Ben Ji says:

    Agree with Rainbow Man
    After I graduated college in 09 it was Plaza every weekend, falloon, fooleries, odowds.

    I have not been out on the plaza since last fall, no particular reason it just seems like everyone just stopped going there. I think the development of the Waldo area has alot to do with it, the Well especially. Why take a $15 cab ride home from the plaza when I can take a $7 cab ride home from Waldo?

    Westport has also gotten huge recently in my group, closing down America’s pub was the icing on the cake.

  28. PB says:

    Nailed It.
    Musicman did. No legit live music (I’m not talking some combo in the Penguin Court) = no appeal for me. I’m sure I’m in the minority, but my nightlife forays are more about being entertained than going out for a goat cheese & portabella pizza and an Appletini. The Plaza is an always has been for the khaki crowd and tourists. I have the same issue with The Legends, outside of shopping, grabbing a bite to eat and the occasional minor league sporting event, there’s no draw for me. Glad others like it though. Give me a hot band and a cold brew at Knuckleheads, Davey’s, Record Bar or Riot Room anyday.

  29. Musicman says:

    Lets do it!
    I have a few bucks lying around, and I certainly know who the talent is. Who I need is an outstanding colaborator.
    Seems like I’m moving back to KC after thirty-forty years elsewhere, and I may be interested in being part owner of a Plaza bar with great music, but more upscale trappings than Knuckleheads.

    I’d only be interested in partnering with person/people with CLEAN business habits and reputations; i.e. NO GLZ types. Looking for someone with Bing Crosby type disposition; not CHANNELING Bing, I want a true Bing clone!!!! NO DRAMA!!!!!!!! NO SCAMMING !!!!!!!!!! Could be great success AND a lot of fun!.

    I know what musicians like Mose Allison, BoB etc charge for private parties too….. Ocassionally we could keep Mose etc over for select membership club on Sunday nights. Life couldn’t get much better!

    I want to remain mostly UTR for now……….

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