By CHARLES FERRUZZA
On the same day that my review of local bar dining hit the streets, I received a couple of phone calls from regulars at the City Tavern complaining that the new changes at this six-year-old Crossroads restaurant included one they were not happy about. Melissa Stevens of the Patricia Stevens Modeling Agency made the first call.
"Shawn Moriarty was the best bartender in Kansas City. He knew everyone's favorite cocktail before they even sat down. He was professional, engaging, very elegant," she said.
My friend Truman, another Moriarty fan, was practically traumatized by the news: "He was one of the few five-star bartenders in the city. Totally amazing."
So what happened?
Moriarty said he knew there was a "stink in the air" when the restaurant's new chef, Jason Czaja (recently hired away from Yia Yia's) started "interviewing bartenders right in front of the ones already working at the restaurant." This week, Moriarty was given the air.
City Tavern owner Dan Clothier said it was one of the hardest things he's ever had to do. In fact, he told me was sick just thinking about telling Moriarty he was fired. "John is a superior bartender," he said. "But it was time for City Tavern to re-invent itself and the bar was like a separate business. It was always at odds with what we were trying to do in the dining room. It was like two rooms with completely different personalities. I had an opportunity to change that."
Moriarty had been with City Tavern since it opened in 2002. He seemed nonplussed by his dismissal, but he's been a professional bartender for 17 years, so he knows how the industry works. A couple of local venues are already vying for his services.
"Right now, I'm just going to take my motorcycle for a spin," he told me. "It's a a beautiful day."