Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Temple Slug turns 40 with tea and scones

Posted By on Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 1:00 PM

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Keith Buchanan

This past Saturday, Kansas City's venerable Temple Slug -- which was this town's Hippie Central when it opened four decades ago -- celebrated its 40th anniversary, mostly with genteel cups of tea at owner Bob Gamer's newest venture right next door: The Teahouse & Coffeepot.

I always wondered where the name Temple Slug derived. An album from the late 1960s? A brand of Indian incense?

After all, when the shop opened in April 1970, it happily sold the period's groovy accoutrements: incense, cards, candles. Gamer's stepson, Keith Buchanan, who created the teahouse, likes to clarify that when it opened, Temple Slug was not a head shop. The now-illicit paraphenalia like bongs, rolling papers and pipes came six months after the opening, and now, it's been years since Temple Slug sold that material.

The shop's name dates back to the late 1960s, when Gamer heard about a group of idealistic young people in San Francisco who planned to open a flea market in an old vacant trolley station with a big domed roof. Since it never opened, Gamer took the name for his own fledgling business in Kansas City.

Temple Slug is now best-known for futons and decorative items. And if Keith Buchanan has his way, Temple Slug's new tea house will create an even more compelling reason to drive around the block -- both businesses are on a one-way stretch of Jefferson Street which can be a pain-in-the-ass to find -- in the neighborhood just south of Westport and north of the Country Club Plaza.

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Barista Jennifer Scanlon knows her way around a fancy latte
There have been some shifts in the personnel of the Teahouse & Coffeepot since it opened two months ago. Former barista (and musician) Nick Holt is out and the new manager is Carrie Brockman, the former general manager at Jardine's.

Brockman -- the mother of an infant named Tennessee Rex (yes, they call the baby T. Rex) -- needed a job that gave her more time for motherhood. Brockman and Buchanan have a lot of plans for the Teahouse, such as hosting traditional English high teas (Buchanan is half-Chinese, half-British) and Monday-night open-mic nights for musicians, poets, writers and performing artists.

Unlike many of its teahouse/coffee house competitors, the Teahouse & Coffeepot serves more than a limited selection of scones and cookies. Buchanan insisted the operation serve real food, so the good-natured Jennifer Scanlon, who is both lead barista and cook (and the wife of local chef Spike Scanlon) offers soups and a fresh quiche each day as well as sandwiches, sweets and both sweet and savory scones. The current featured quiche is a wonderful vegetable creation with carrots, spinach, tomatoes, garlic, red onion and Asiago cheese.

Keith Buchanon is also offering tea classes for patrons who want to know more about the ancient beverage. The current classes focus on Chai. For more information or to register for one of the Wednesday night classes, Buchanan can be reached at info@teahousekc.com.


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