That coffee shop is one of the last relics of the Muehlebach's glory days in the culinary trade. The coffee shop is where it always was but has now taken the name of the Pam Pam Room, the once-famous breakfast-lunch-dinner joint at the nearly forgotten Alameda Plaza. When the name moved downtown, a lot of Pam Pam fans assumed the staff and recipes would too. "In fact, I was so sure of that, I raced to check it out when it opened," said culinary mystery novelist Lou Jane Temple. "But it was nothing like the Pam Pam. Just a big disappointment."
At least the name lingers on. As for the Muehlebach's famous supper club, The Terrace Grill, and its lounge, The Rendezvous, there isn't even an old cocktail napkin lying around to remind customers where they were.
As late as the 1960s, downtown Kansas City was hopping with hip hotel nightspots, including the Playboy Club at the Hotel Continental (where, according to radio personality Walt Bodine, the late Flip Wilson first tested out his Geraldine character), the Cabana Room at the Hotel Phillips, the Zebra Room at the Aladdin Hotel, the distinctly less glamorous (but lively) Pink Elephant at the State Hotel and, oh yes, the combination restaurant and nightclub called The Drum Room, on the lobby level of the Hotel President at 14th and Baltimore.
The Drum Room sounded its last call when the hotel finally closed in 1980, and there's nothing left of its famous architecture or drum-shaped bar. Still, some Kansas City history is too good to fade into oblivion, so the company planning to restore the long-shuttered hotel, the President Development Group LLC, has hired the Dallas-based restaurant-and-bar conceptual development team Triple R Group to duplicate the long-lost venue.
Triple R's founders, restaurant veterans Royce Ring and Russell Hayward, have already pored over dozens of historical photographs of the restaurant ("none in color, unfortunately," Hayward says) and are working with a local for-profit consulting firm, Historical Preservation Services, to make sure all the new architectural details -- the revolving door, a curved glass wall, the 20-foot Drum Bar -- are all in the right places.
"We'll bring the look and spirit of the place into the 21st century using new finishes, features and fixtures and modern technology," Ring says.
"But this is not going to be a museum," Hayward adds. "We're recreating the look and the ambience of an old room but putting it into a modern context. People are going to come here to eat and drink."