Fans of the Myers Hotel Bar in Tonganoxie take heart — the bar will re-open in January with cocktails, coffee, live music and events, lodging and other amenities.
That might sound like a lot, but owner Kate Frick says it’s simply a return to the hospitality offered by the building’s original proprietor, Mary Jane “Mollie” Myers.
“That’s what Mollie Myers was doing, although she was doing it with a wood burning stove,” Frick says. “It gives me so much strength to think of the woman who did this 140 years ago.”
The building was constructed in 1878 and has been a hotel, bus stop, diner, beauty shop and event space in the years since.
Frick opened the Myers Hotel Bar there in 2015, and her cocktails — made with fresh ingredients and small, sustainably produced spirits — quickly drew followers from Tonganoxie, Bonner Springs, McClouth, Baldwin City, Lawrence, Kansas City and elsewhere.
The bar proved to be more than just a bar, though. It also played host to book clubs and yoga classes, community meetings and family gatherings, with kids sipping house-made limeades and chasing bubbles in the yard.
That came to an end in October when Frick’s landlord decided to sell the property, and she lost her lease. After the bar closed, though, the new owner decided Frick was truly the person who should continue its legacy.
After working out the details with what Frick calls her angel investor, she and co-owner Stephanie Marchesi took possession on Nov. 16.
Frick couldn’t be happier to be back in Tongie, as the town is known.
“The people I observed opening their hearts and truly becoming involved in each other’s lives, and doing that through a business I built, was one of the most touching things I’ve witnessed,” Frick says. “They’re all like family to me now. I couldn’t turn my back on them.”
Reopening won’t be easy, though. Frick and Marchesi launched a Go Fund Me (https://www.gofundme.com/4oesnj4) campaign to raise $15,000 for initial improvements, including electrical and plumbing repairs.
The 1950s-era neon sign needs to be refurbished, as do the upstairs bedrooms and the adjacent guest house, called The Cabin, which they plan to list on Airbnb.
The bar will get a facelift and more efficient design, largely to allow Frick to function better as its sole bartender.
Favorite drinks like the Sweet Earth (fresh beet juice, gin and passion fruit juice) and Cure All (vodka, grapefruit juice, cayenne pepper, honey and Amaro) will return, but the new menu will reflect Frick’s plan to enlarge the on-site garden and work with Crum’s Heirlooms to procure more seasonal produce.
The hotel’s front room will be given over to coffee, including espresso drinks, and Frick is now collaborating with Messenger Coffee in Lawrence to develop a signature blend. She also hopes to at some point renovate the hotel’s defunct kitchen, enabling her to serve seasonally driven, locally sourced small plates.
Frick has plans for the ballroom, too. She envisions lounge seating and a working fireplace, plus an audio-visual system so she can host business meetings and family movie nights and occasionally televise sporting events.
Live music will remain a priority as well.
“That’s a kind of common ground that brings people from all different walks of life together,” says Frick. “It’s a huge component of how we grow this community.”
How quickly that all happens, Frick says, will depend on how quickly they raise the necessary funds. That initial ask is just to get the building open again; the total estimate for repairs to the property tops $60,000.
Frick plans to host a handful of pop-up events in the coming weeks (watch the bar’s Facebook page for details) and hopes to re-open as early as January.
Until then, Frick, who is an architect by training and has a background in both commercial and residential renovation, and Marchesi will begin revamping the Myers. It’s simply a labor of love, Frick says.
“I feel like this is where my heart is,” she says.
To reach freelance spirits and cocktails columnist Anne Brockhoff, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org