"KCK is NOT for Amateurs!"
Wes Port: SO, as I leave work tonight I realize that I need beer. Yes. Usually I need beer every night of the week, BUT tonight was a special night. It was a Thursday. I call my friend, Zona Rosa, who works near me, and she agrees to meet me at the KCK bar “Chicago’s.” I have always been curious of this bar, as I have driven past it for the past three years, but have never stopped. It’s conveniently located at the I-70/Central Street exit in KCK. I drive past it every night, and it always beacons.
Wes Port: So, Zona Rosa tells me she’ll be there in “ten minutes” which turns into half an hour. When I text her, she is near the Zona Rosa and realizes she’s made a wrong turn. An hour later (not really, but it sounds funny) she’s near the Legends….? Really. So two days later, she shows up at Chicago’s.
The really, REALLY cool thing about Chicago’s was…the fact that they had a wall, board with “September Birthdays” of local customers. WOW! Talk about “Cheers! Yeah, all of the regulars at the bar had their birthdays listed on the wall! Yes. Cheers. It’s the best place west of the river to find someone who truly knows YOUR name. This is it, KCK! Yeah, it was a smoking bar, but it was totally the coolest pub I’ve been in lately! What a refreshing local Kansas City joint!
Zona Rosa: Even though it took me a couple years to find the place. I was surprised to see how wonderful a place Chicago’s is. As soon as I walked in, I was greeted with a great “HEY ZONA ROSA, we’ve been waiting for you.” They were so nice and so funny! I felt like I was walking into Cheers where “everybody knows my name.” While we were sitting and chatting, one of the patrons bought us a round. This was a very friendly bar. Then we went over to Antoinette’s Colonial Club, which was just as amazing. We had dinner and were readily greeted by the owners. We also met the owner of Chicago’s , which was interesting. The owner at Colonial Club’s husband, Fred, is the meat smoker and it is clear that he has quite the talent in doing so as the food is amazing. They have great barbeque, ribs, pulled pork, and brisket, which will make any mouth water. The food was delicious at Antoinette’s. Wes Port had the smoked brisket and I had the Philly Cheese steak. We were lucky to have a special event night, which was a great atmosphere. It was the end of “Dart Season.” This place is also endearingly called, “Shorty’s.” The owners joined us with so much insightful information.
Wes Port: It’s called “Shorty’s” because the previous owner is Shorty Yuratovich, which had the privilege of owning the FIRST private club in the state of Kansas. It’s no longer a private club. Did you know that the local dart league meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays? Ironically, they were having a banquet tonight where the dart members were treated to free food!
Zona Rosa: It was an interesting night. Come to find out, they opened the bar in 2001 serving only chips and salsa with the occasional Chipotle run. It is much different now. They serve an amazing menu with great variety. The owners have taken special attention to smoke the meats and to bread the tenderloins themselves. They really have great attention to detail. This dynamic duo, Antoinette and Fred, her husband, understands their clientele. They offer both a great variety of food and an amazing atmosphere. They have a wall, which they endearingly call the “Wall of shame” which catches all the local patrons in their most embarrassing moments. It was an insight to the patrons of this quaint bar. I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and company at the bar.
Wes Port: At the Colonial Club we were intrigued by the story of the “Sauerkraut Bandit.” Yes, the Sauerkraut Bandit. Back in the day, it seems, the previous owner of the Colonial Club (Leonard Lepari) owned a grocery store in KCK, which was robbed shotgun-point one evening. The owner, Leonard, jumped the counter and, with the help of an elderly woman, wrestled the gunman to the ground, beating him with a can of Green’s Frank Kraut. Yeah, he was beaten with sauerkraut. The new slogan for KCK became “KCK is NOT for Amateurs!”
Zona Rosa: After several drinks, I have fallen in love with this place. Fred and Antoinette gave us a complimentary Yugoslavia Plum Bourbon, called Slivovitz. It was quite possibly the best Bourbon I have ever tasted in my life. They are so welcoming. The atmosphere here is one of complete acceptance. Oh, and it would be remiss of us not mention Genevieve, the long-standing head chef, who has anchored various menu specialties at the Colonial Club. Her recommendations have been well accepted by the community as sensational!
Wes Port: I think the best quote of the evening was from the owner of Chicago’s as being, “Ask Tara.” (She’s one of the waitresses over at Chicago’s.) He seemed to be a man of few words, and when approached for a quote, said only, "Ask Tara." I guess she’s the go-to-gal of the place. She has the answer for it all… So if you ever make it to Chicago's, tell Tara hi.
Final words? I guess, Antoinette sums it all up when she says, “Dobro Nam Dosli” (Doe-bro nam dosh-lee) which is Yugoslavian for, “It’s Good that You Came!” It’s definitely good that we stopped in for an evening at the best KCK bars west of the Missouri!