Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Exit Dave Enter OC

I guess even big chains have a tough time paying the Power & Light rent. Famous Dave's is shuttering its downtown location for a more friendly suburban location. That's all well and good since Dave's is suburban type barbecue. I'm not a hater of Famous Dave's, I've even eaten it in the past week, but we have about 10 local barbecue places that are better.

Now on to my complaint, Old Chicago is moving into the spot vacated by Famous Dave. Now don't get me wrong, it's exciting to have another place with an excellent beer selection in the P&L (Flying Saucer is the other one, if you didn't know that, drive down to the P&L and have a beer at the Saucer, we'll wait on you to get back). Is everyone back? Okay, I'm not upset about it being an OC, I'm upset it's not a Rock Bottom Brewery(which is the same company as Old Chicago).

The P&L could be a destination for beer geeks. It's already a pretty good spot to pick up some good beers. You can get a nice dinner and brewpub beer at Gordon-Biersch and then spend the rest of the evening at the Saucer enjoying every beer style imaginable. With 2 breweries and a great beer bar, the P&L could have a real identity other than white douche capital of KC. Then if all went well with 2 brewpubs, maybe Schlafly or Upstream or some other good brewpub from the midwest, would want to locate in the neighborhood. A cluster of brewpubs, this is what dreams are made of.

I'm sure that Gordon Biersch has some sort of brewpub non-compete clause in their lease, but I think they would be willing to break it. In San Francisco, the GB flagship brewery is less than a mile from another brewpub and both of them are doing fine. Not only don't I think it would be a problem, I think it would be a benefit. Throw in a Toronado, a Blind Tiger Ale House and a Harry's or Waldo Pizza Tap Room and you have the new beer capital of the United States. I'm starting to get myself a little excited, not a good day to be wearing boxer shorts with a button on the fly.

The first step has to be the Rock Bottom Brewery instead of Old Chicago. We've got to take baby steps here. But this is the idea of the future.

27 comments:

  1. Why would I want a rock bottom, who may have 3 or 4 beers that are really good, when I could have an OC which will have several dozen. Rock Bottom is no Pizza Port or Russian River for gods sake. It's a strip mall chain brewery that does an acceptable job. Nothing more.

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  2. Good point Andy, but the Flying Saucer already has the multitude of beers we all look for, but Rock Bottom makes good beer and has good food (just like Old Chicago).

    What I failed to mention was the fact that Rock Bottom does a good job of supporting local homebrewers and have several beer related events each month. So, Rock Bottom would be important in extending beer outreach, something Old Chicago does not do.

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  3. Personally I'd rather have RB than GB. In my opinion GB has better food, but their beer is highly average and geared for the masses. But I wouldn't want both.

    However I agree getting FD out of there is probably a good thing.

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  4. It's a start. Personally, I'd rather have a BJ's if I'm going to go for beer-oriented-family-restaurant-chain. But we gotta start somewhere. That said, it'll take more than that to bring me to P&L. Now if a public house opened up...

    What's sad is that Famous Dave's replaced the last independently-owned BBQ joint downtown. And now FD's is gone too. :-/

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  6. Try again ...

    How many places in Kansas City do you know were serving Boulevard Maibock last spring?

    One was Cafe Burger. It's in the P&L District. And is locally owned - which I'm guessing explains why it has at least two Blvd specialty brands on tap (like Luar Ale) at all times.

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  7. I like Rock Bottom and Old Chicago both better than Dave's but neither are unique. There's like two Old Chicago's in Lawrence alone. All this does is drive mediocrity deeper and deeper into P&L's roots.

    As somebody on another blog pointed out when Cordish kicked out Danny Edward's, downtown lost its only real barbecue place. Now, it doesn't even have a fake one.

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  8. Owen, the only reason I mention Rock Bottom is because it's the same company as Old Chicago. I don't see the point in opening another OC in town, why not mix it up and open a Rock Bottom?

    Aaron, it's ChefBurger not CafeBurger. Sorry to correct you but it's a pet peeve of mine, I hear people say it wrong all the time. It's such a simple name, yet always screwed up.

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  9. Aaron- I had the Maibock in 3 or 4 places last spring/summer, none of which was Cafe Burger (Chef Burger?). You're partially right on the locally owned front...Boulevard seems to award those special kegged items to places that show strong support of the brewery and keep multiple taps for them at all times, which are normally locally owned places. Flying Saucer had the Maibock, though.

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  10. I've been to Rock Bottom once and didn't think it was that great. I think an Old Chicago is the better choice, except for the fact that Flying Saucer is going to be right there. At the end of the day, I'll probably go to OC in the cases where I actually want to eat a meal with my beer.

    I would lump Rock Bottom/Gordon-Biersch/Granite City all in the same group of trying to make craft beers that appeal to the masses. The problem is, that takes away from the taste for beer lovers and Joe Six-pack still orders Bud Light in a bottle when he goes. I would like those places a lot better if they just went after it with their beers like 75th St Brewery does.

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  11. Chimp, I think you got it about right with the Rock Bottom/GB/GC triad (although Granite City doesn't brew on site and their beer sucks). But, like I said before, Rock Bottom really supports the local beer community. Plus Rock Bottom does a good job of transitioning Bud Light drinkers into other beers. To me, that's an ally.

    We're going to be stuck with chains in the P&L for a while now. Why wouldn't we want a chain that does a good job with the community like Rock Bottom does? I'm not saying that RB is the best beer in the world, I'm just saying that since it is the same company as OC, I'd rather have the Rock Bottom.

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  12. I'm not sure a Rock Bottom in P&L would make it a legitimate contender for the best spot for beer geeks in town, let alone a world class beer geek mecca.

    I think the corner of 75th St and Wornall and Westport are better places to go for beer and another chain downtown isn't go to change that.

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  13. Blanche De BruxellesJanuary 14, 2009 at 12:50 PM

    Rock Bottom would be the best choice for us beer lovers. GC brews bad beer. Period. OC has a nice selection, but if I want selection I'm walking down the street to the Saucer.

    Lets also not group RB in the GC group. Rock Bottom actually cares about their brews and makes solid brands. Check the Great American Beer Festival results. I believe Rock Bottom took home some awards in some tough categories.

    I've been to all of the mentioned joints many times and while I'm not a RB apologist, I think its wrong to lump them in the same group as the others.

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  14. Blanche De BruxellesJanuary 14, 2009 at 12:50 PM

    Rock Bottom would be the best choice for us beer lovers. GC brews bad beer. Period. OC has a nice selection, but if I want selection I'm walking down the street to the Saucer.

    Lets also not group RB in the GC group. Rock Bottom actually cares about their brews and makes solid brands. Check the Great American Beer Festival results. I believe Rock Bottom took home some awards in some tough categories.

    I've been to all of the mentioned joints many times and while I'm not a RB apologist, I think its wrong to lump them in the same group as the others.

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  15. Now that FD is out of P&L we need a RB to go with FS and GB, maybe a GC but not an OC.

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  16. When did GC stop brewing beer on premise? When I was in college we took a tour of the brewery part of the building for a microbiology class. The brewmaster gave us a lecture, explained the process to us, showed us the tanks, etc. It certainly looked/smelled like they were making beer. But, that was 6 years ago in Sioux Falls, when the chain had yet to expand too much so maybe the newer places don't brew.

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  17. Technically speaking, GC does brew beer but the wort is produced in a central location. It is fermented on premises but as they say, (wo)men make wort, yeast make beer.

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  18. Wow...nice thread. I've got to chime in on Aaron and others getting all excited over Blvd. I'm not a fan. Their smokestack series are a step in the right direction...but at a steep cost. Their sub-par wheat and pale ale have squeezed out all other micro offerings at most restaurants in town. That really bothers me. Wouldn't it be great if there was some 75th street (or any other decent local brewery) at 1/10 of the places that have blvd and blvd only? (besides the bud coors miller) We don't have that because blvd has dominated the market with the marginal flagship beers. I have no loyalty to blvd as a result.

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  19. Even with Flying Saucer down there, I avoid the P&L like a plague. Too meat-market for my tastes. The times I have been down there are like Sunday afternoons when no one is around, and that's pretty lame in its own right. lol
    Famous Dave's is good BBQ. I'm a transplant here, but I think it's good food. We had it at the Branson Landing a couple months ago (Branson's version of P&L) and it was darn good. Gomer's and Lukas Liquors are my "beer destinations."

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  20. Andy, you may very well be right, but the upside of having Boulevard so prominent is that nearly every crappy little dive bar in KC has Pale and/or Wheat on tap, when normally it would be Coors, Bud lite, etc.

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  21. Andy, I have to disagree with you on the Boulevard front. Wheat is boring, sure, but it's a good example of an American wheat style. Pale Ale is good. Again, boring, but still it's a good beer. The Smokestack series is great and at $7.50 for 750mL it's a steal, in my opinion. You get three good glasses of beer out of that. Do I buy them at bars for $15-$20? No, of course not, but they still are very affordable. If you look at it as "$8 for a bottle of beer" it seems steep, but not when you consider the size of the bottle. I think Boulevard does a nice job of staying affordable. I just spent $5 on a 22 oz bomber of Anderson Valley yesterday, and $5 on a 12 oz bottle of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, so it's all relative.

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  22. all this talk reminds me of my little dream: BLVD opening up a joint on site. I kept hearing talk of it but I don't think it'll ever come to fruition. I went to this sweet little brewery in Nashville where there they were open Thursdays and Fridays only. You stood in line, ordered your beer and perhaps a cheese plate, then you crammed into the little rooms w/ picnic benches or you sat outside in an inner courtyard. it freakin rocked and was the only place in Nashville that I didn't see tacky tourists or moussed up cowboys.

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  23. What would be nice is if Blvd bought the Power Plant Brewery that went out of business and brewed special beers there.

    Well at least if OC is going in then I can finish my tour. I'm on 89 beers but it takes me an hour to drive down to OP. I'll probably never get a plate on the wall at FS, unlike my buddies Dan and Andy (keep pounding them back guys).

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  24. I've emailed Boulevard about opening a local Brewery "outlet" or "brew pub," but they said that there were no plans on the books for anything of the sort... Personally, I think Boulevard is missing the mark by not having their own flagship bar in the downtown or mid-town KC area. It would truly be a gold mine, and just one more reason to come to KC.

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  25. Wes, I don't know... there is a REALLY big difference between running a brewery and running a restaurant. It seems like a potential disaster, to me.

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  26. I agree. There aren't a lot of examples of successful breweries operating restaurants and where there are it is almost always a brewpub that opens a separate brewery to sell packaged beer. Rogue is a notable exception but owner Jack Joyce has a metric assload of money and has a Nike pedigree. It also doesn't hurt that they have twenty some beers available each year and more medals than Michael Phelps.

    I would love to see a new brewpub in KC, preferably one that isn't afraid to throw a couple hop pellets in the kettle.

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