As one bar prepares to close its doors, another gets granted a new lease on life. Over the last few weeks, I've been receiving little tidbits of news here and there about how Gusto Lounge was changing (in a positive way), and the interior was gettin' a spruce. That's now confirmed.
Here's a very long statement from Philipp Vitti, operations manager at Gusto:
After falling into the negative stigma of an unsafe, seedy hangout, new
management is stepping in to overhaul and breathe new life into a once
lively and exciting bar just blocks from the heart of Westport. The
Gusto Bar and Lounge, on the corner of 39th Street and Broadway, has
introduced a new Operations Manager to give Gusto a facelift and create
a positive environment to add to the thriving Westport scene.
Philipp Vitti took on the role as Operations manager of the
Gusto Bar and Lounge eight weeks ago. Since then, carpets have been
ripped out, eliminating Gusto's signature stench, two and a half room's
worth of junk has been removed, the cocktails have been revamped, a new
security team is in place, bartenders are being re-trained, and a music
team is creating an eclectic DJ line-up and planning live music events.
Vitti assures this is only the beginning. He sees Gusto as a place with
potential, a chance to revitalize a great space, add to the exciting
Westport scene, and even a possibility to clean up the block, making
Gusto a desirable place to spend any evening of the week.
Vitti, 26, is a Kansas City native. He graduated from Le Cordon
Bleu in Mendota Heights, MN where he studied culinary arts and
hospitality management. He excelled in the business aspect of the
service industry. Over the next 8 years he lived in Chicago and Las
Vegas, working in the service industry at Michelin Star restaurants and
developing creative entertainment concepts. He returned to Kansas City
in 2008 and is excited to begin building new concepts within the
entertainment industry. He is enthusiastic about bringing his visions
for Gusto to life.
Perhaps the most noteworthy and immediate change to the bar and
lounge has been its physical about-face. The first floor, called
"Gusto" retains its dive bar feel, but now has more space to breathe.
The green astroturf floors are no more, and the clutter is gone,
exposing an open dance area. New seating has been added, along with two
framed chalkboards highlighting new drink specials and music line-ups.
In the next few weeks, Gusto will see new curtains and renovated
restrooms, and a kitchen is in the planning stage. The second floor of
the bar, officially called "Top Shelf," is about cocktails and a
high-energy dance floor. Vitti plans to install shelving and a
multitude of candles, giving the upstairs a glowing ambiance.
Another vital measure for Gusto's success is the new security
team. Vitti hired a friendly staff of security personnel who understand
the neighborhood and are specifically trained to deal with uneasy
situations. He feels this step is key in making patrons feel
comfortable and safe at Gusto and in dissolving the negative stigma
acquired in recent years.
Along with re-training Gusto's bartenders, Vitti has created a cocktail
list, introducing new signature drinks and daily promotions. On Monday
nights, guests can enjoy two-for-one well drinks. Tuesdays feature $15
multi-flavored Long Island Iced Tea pitchers. Wednesday is service
industry night, and anyone with proof of an industry job will enjoy 50
percent off drinks; and Thursday will highlight house cocktail
specials. In addition to daily promotions, Vitti has implemented a
reverse happy hour, from 8 p.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday.
Reverse happy hour features $9 buckets of beer and $4 Jameson and
One of the most exciting changes in Gusto Bar and Lounge's
present and future is the music scene coming to the venue. Vitti
believes the success of the establishment lies in the music he brings
to the space. He has added two music coordinators to the Gusto team,
bringing nightly DJ's to each floor and planning live music events for
the near future. Martin Bush, stage name Audiovox, is a veteran to the
Kansas City music scene, after playing in the bands Salt the Earth and
the Paper Cities. Ryan Shank is also a notable force in the area. He is
currently a part of the band Roman Numerals. Both are knowledgeable
resources in the local music scene, and are dedicated to creating an
eclectic DJ lineup and bringing exciting local music to the venue. Also
assisting in coordinating music line-ups will be Billy Smith, who books
music for Crosstown Station in Kansas City. Smith will be organizing
Wednesday night music for Gusto.
The music team is eager to introduce an exciting musical line-up
featuring Ken Jankowski from the Republic Tigers, Ben Grimes from Soft
Reeds, and Kansas City legend DJ Rico, among others.
The Gusto Bar and Lounge is anxious to return to the Westport
scene in a newer, bigger way. The once-energetic scene fell into an
unfortunate place, and operations manager Philipp Vitti, along with the
entire Gusto team both new and old, is passionate about creating a
space where people want to spend evenings of friends, music, and fun.
They're cleaning up 3810 Broadway and invite the press and the public
to check out the new-and-improving Gusto Lounge.
Oh my God, you read this whole thing? You're amazing. Maybe we should go to Gusto together and share a LONG ISLAND ICED TEA PITCHER?