It wasn't heavy work yet - the room hadn't quite filled up. At the bar, people were watching Baylor's football team pull out a surprise win over Kansas State. In the back of the room, a handful of bartenders from joints up and down Wornall Road drank alongside several of Baker's regulars - mostly older, gregarious men with a strong taste for Crown on the rocks - their conversations punctuated by hearty backslapping.
Baker occasionally reminded well-wishers that this was only his "semi-retirement party." It was November 17, and he had some time left before January 1, the day he plans to turn the Waldo bar over to his daughter, Becky Hamrich.
"It's made me a good living," Baker tells me on another recent day, sitting in the small, dark neighborhood favorite that he opened almost 19 years ago. "But I know what my dad means now when he used to say, 'Everything isn't always going to be peaches and cream.'
I've never actually sat down to ponder this pressing question: Where in Kansas City would I put a late-night creperie? The Crossroads? Westport? The Power & Light District? How about, say, 38th Street and Broadway?
It's not an unlikely location for after-hours dining: The venerable Chubby's is a block away at 3756 Broadway, and there's a 24-hour McDonald's in between. But if you didn't already know that Dirk Knoedler and Craig Klein were selling sweet and savory crepes out of a tiny kitchen inside a loud and none-too-glamorous nightclub called Gusto, you would probably never make the connection. Broadway Crepes, tucked inside Gusto Lounge at 3810 Broadway, may possibly be the most unusual marriage of location and food in Kansas City history.
But it makes a lot of sense once you talk to Knoedler and Klein, who first met in New York City's East Village: "You can find something great to eat at any hour of the day or night there," Klein says. "It's not so easy in midtown Kansas City. One night, Dirk and I were talking and decided what this city needed and didn't have was a creperie that served late."
Really late. Broadway Crepes opens for business each night at 10 p.m. and serves freshly made crepes until 3 a.m. and sometimes a little later.
Todd Schulte, the owner of Genessee Royale, the stylish breakfast-and-lunch restaurant in the West Bottoms, is more than ready for warmer weather to appear. He wants to open the glass-paned garage doors -- this space really was a garage and gas station once -- and begin serving meals outside on the patio.
He's also ready to introduce a new menu at the end of this month. One of the casualties of the menu change will be this restaurant's popular Monte Cristo sandwich.
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