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Best Plaza Bar that Doesn't Seem Like It's on the Plaza 

Fred P. Ott's Bar & Grill

A TV obsession over the latest football game doesn't figure much into the ambience of Fred P. Ott's on the Plaza. Not that a sports-bar mentality dominates Kansas City's premier retail district -- it's just that some Plaza establishments have taken to installing clusters of TVs, often tuned to the hot game of the day, to attract the guys, which will attract the gals, which will produce such lines as "Do you come to the Plaza often?"

"Maybe I'm a backward bartender for not knowing anything about sports," says Kara Werner, Ott's main night bartender. Werner's passion is progressive politics -- and the music and art that complements those views. From Ralph Nader to the Zapatista struggle in Chiapas, Mexico, to the death penalty in the United States, to the case against Mumia Abu-Jamal, Werner attracts a clientele open to those interests. On any given night the Ott's mix can contain young poets scratching out verse at the bar, tennis mavens sipping wine after a tough set at the Plaza courts, locals from nearby apartments and townhouses, a sprinkling of tourists, and midtown types wondering whether a band is playing that night. It's a rhythm that works.

"We're laid back," says Werner, "a kind of hole in the wall, neighborhood-type place."

Which you don't hear that often anymore about a Plaza business.

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