David and Rachel Finn didn't move very far when they decided not to renew the lease on the original location of their popular Mission bakery. They're just up the street.
Four weeks ago, the Finns re-opened the former Chacko's Bakery & Catering as Chacko's Eatery in a smaller, more efficient storefront space at 6009 Johnson Drive.
The Place: Sol Cantina, 408 E. 31st St., 816-9431-8080.
The Hours: Monday to Friday, 3 to 7 p.m. On Saturdays, it's noon to 6 p.m.
The Vibe: With open garage doors letting in a light breeze and a large wooden patio in back, Sol Cantina is aiming for somewhere between beach bar and vacation shack. Surfboards and umbrellas hang from the ceiling and pinatas line the walls -- feeling like leftovers from a Cinco De Mayo celebration. "Day Drinkers Wanted," proclaims the back of the shirts worn by the all-female bar and waitstaff.
The crowd is split by the large rectangular bar that dominates the enclosed portion of the space. In front is the people that want to be seen. Women in tank tops and recently exiled fraternity brothers -- either through graduation or attrition from college. The patrons age and mellow the further you go into Sol Cantina.
It's not unusual to catch somebody still in scrubs fresh from a shift nearby on Hospital Hill. Yesterday, I watched as a gaggle of female co-workers in their forties took pictures in front of the Corona sign on the right wall. "That's my bikini," joked one woman, pointing to the painting of a two-piece bathing suit in front of a beach scene.
The Place: Swagger Fine Spirits and Food, 8431 Wornall Road, 816-361-4388.
The Hours: Monday to Saturday, 3 to 7 p.m.
The Vibe: Tin signs hang over the bar that runs along the right-hand side of Swagger. At 5 p.m., only a single barstool was empty and the rest were filled by men, who enjoyed teasing each other and the bar staff that this bar has a solid cast of regulars. One patron kept calling for a "social smoke" out back in the parking lot, even though he got no takers. Undaunted, he passed by a pool table where a laid-back game seemed to take the better part of an hour.
By 6 p.m. the four elevated tables along the left-hand wall were filled with couples and young professionals. The bartenders were quick to recognize when I needed another drink and were glad to recommend something off the extensive beer list. I didn't realize how dim Swagger is until I stepped outside into the sunshine and found myself wincing.
The Place: Jack Gage American Tavern, 5301 Main Street, 816-531-4243.
The Hours: Monday to Friday, 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 10 p.m. to midnight.
The Vibe: The Double Dragon is long gone, knocked out cold by the pugilistic stylings of Jack Gage. The room has been split between the bar area with hi-top tables and a line of comfortable booths to the left of the front door. With exposed brick and black ducts and a lot of warm wood, Jack Gage is like an informal steakhouse.
On a Wednesday it was easy to get a table, although I made the mistake of sitting in the dining room before my server politely told our party that happy hour was only available in the bar area. Even though he was happy to reseat us, it's best to tell the host you're there for happy hour.
A few younger couples were mixed in among a crowd that looked to be primarily Boomer-age. Servers were attentive and engaged -- ours offered us an impromptu Spanish lesson. When one of our party knocked over a glass, three staffers sprang into action and our server brought us a new beer free of charge. Even better, she informed the table next to ours, who sat down at 5:30 p.m., that happy hour would be ending in half an hour.
The Place: Charlie Hooper's, 12 W. 63rd St., 816-361-8841.
if it's not in use, it tends to be a bit quieter. The khaki-and-button-down set eventually morphs into the backwards hat, American Eagle crowd, but usually not until after happy hour.
The Twin City Tavern (1815 Westport Road) is the type of corner bar where you intend to have one beer but suddenly find yourself drawn into a conversation. It's also a fine place if you're just looking to have a few beers and keep to yourself.
The long, rectangular room grows warm as it fills up with the after- work crowd. All of the specials start after 5 p.m., so there's no time limit on happy hour here.
The service is quick, but you'll have to catch the attention of the bartender or servers, who are in constant motion once the crowd shows up and takes over the black booths that line one wall. So be patient, because the sign above the bar warns, "there's a $5 charge for whining."
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