Even though Molloy's rarely had good bands (if it had any at all), it had good food, Strongbow cider on tap, real Irish cred and, best of all, the people who frequent O(Who Put the Skanks in My Irish Pub?)'Dowds probably didn't even know about it.
I'm sad to see Molloy's close, but I'm really, really excited about what's going up in its place too excited, even, so don't expect any unbiased reportage this week (either). The club that's throwing its grand opening party this weekend in the space formerly overseen by Fintan is called the Record Bar, and it's straight up gonna kick ass.
The joint's already been open a month, and patrons there have been many have been watching it transform from a toned-down Celtic bar to an amped-up, vinyl-themed rock venue ... almost. As of this writing, the décor still hasn't gone up, so there's a chance the place may end up looking like a poor man's Hard Rock Café. But the Record Bar has two men of very good taste at the helm.
In fact, owners Steve Tulipana and Shawn Sherrill are so popular that scenesters began landing at the Record Bar when it was still Molloy's, only under new management. The band résumés of Tulipana and Sherrill pretty much say it all: Tulipana was in Season to Risk, Sherrill was in Shiner, and both are now in the Roman Numerals thatsa lotta rock. Also, they've been DJing together since the '90s as the Strange Bedfellows. But it's not like they haven't been working their asses off.
On Thursday afternoon, a week before the grand opening, Tulipana told me he was expecting a copy of the freshly minted new Roman Numerals CD the next day. But at that moment, he was holding a gallon of blue paint from Ace Hardware, having paid for it with a check printed with the Strange Bedfellows Inc. company name.
As he has just about every day for the past month, Tulipana along with Sherrill and original Molloy Bros. carpenter Declan Loudon were renovating before the evening crowd arrived. With a new bar extension in a half-finished state, the place wasn't close to done. By the time you read this, the walls will be decorated with musicana records, sleeves, posters, etc., some of it donated by the Music Exchange and the neighboring Half-Price Books plus a full and innovative menu and a booze list rife with reasonably priced boutique drinks (such as divine Charbay vodkas, which come in such flavors as green tea and blood orange and cost $6). Keep in mind this is a rock club. "I know plenty of music fans who don't want to have to drink PBR all the time," Tulipana says.
Strangely, though, he and Sherrill don't necessarily want the RB to be a full-on live-music venue. They just want a small, friendly place with room in the corner for the occasional band.
"We did it because it was the right place," Tulipana says, explaining why he and Sherrill didn't choose to realize their longtime dream in the Crossroads or the River Market. "The price allowed us to build that bar [extension] and do some changes we're doing 90 percent of the work ourselves. It's definitely a giant leap of faith."
But experience-wise, it's not much of a leap. Tulipana and Sherrill are both in their midthirties; Tulipana has been the music man, Sherrill the restaurateur. Between them, a solid, permanent sound system has been installed and a great food concept devised. They've cooked up a menu of pizzas and paninis that's mostly Italian in nature but all music-themed, plus signature pies designed by chefs at other restaurants based on their favorite albums. For example, Willie Nelson fan John Williams of PotPie is working on a creation called the Red-Headed Stranger, which is destined to become a post-pot, munchies-attack favorite.
It's all very cute, but it's smart, too. The preparation is simple, but the variety is complex, and the ingredients (dough, pasta) are cheap. But I'm getting into Charles Ferruzza's territory, and, trust me, he and I would make strange bedfellows almost as strange as the two crowds the Record Bar aims to unite: the lowbrow and the epicurean.
"Rock people are my people, and the service industry people are my people," says Sherrill, sitting in a booth after meeting with get this a young, classy, attractive Miller High Life rep. The champagne of beers, Jeeves. Meanwhile, Tulipana, ever the proletariat, is painting the men's room.
In addition to getting hipsters to consume wine and cheese and Plaza wait staff to see live rock, Sherrill is positively stoked about joining the Kansas City business community. That sounds like crazy talk, I know, but this guy's a believer. He knows that four restaurants on one block aren't competition for one another but part of a healthy system. Sherrill thinks that if the Record Bar succeeds, then Davey's, the Brick, Mike's and the Hurricane will all benefit from the increased noise.
"It's people like us that make this town what it is it's not Hooters and it's not what you find in the strip mall," Sherrill says. "This is all about getting people in the mindset to support local business."
And if you want to support a different side of local business, there are some great, independent record stores here and in Lawrence. Just be careful if you buy too many albums, you, too, might have to open a vinyl-themed bar to keep them in.