After quite a ride, the 75th Street Brewery, Kansas City’s oldest brew pub, is closing. Neighbor Summit Grill & Bar has purchased the venerable brew pub and will be making it their own in May.
Recently, I had the chance to sit down and share a beer and some thoughts with 75th Street’s General Manager Nick Carpenter.
“75th always tried to be a leader in both the bar and restaurant industry. We always wanted to be the place where people wanted to go,” Carpenter said.
I certainly wanted to go to 75th Street back in the day. Married without kids and living right up the street in Brookside, 75th Street was one of my favorite hangouts. Good beer, good food and a nice ambiance made it one of my “go to” places. When we moved back into town and my daughter had sports practices and I needed a place to hang for an hour or two, I went right back to 75th Street. In fact, I’d go there a lot more often right now if I didn’t live at the opposite end of the metro.
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Carpenter’s just 33, so he obviously wasn’t with 75th Street when it was conceived and opened. But he’s been here for the craft beer explosion in Kansas City, and he’s watched things change for brew pubs in general and 75th Street in particular.
“People don’t seem to go out like they used to. When I was younger, I’d call my buddies and say ‘Let’s go have some beers at 75th Street.’ That would be our evening. Now, people want to hit three or four places. They seem to know where they’re going to start and where they’re going to end up, and they figure out what’s in the middle as they go.”
The craft beer explosion has also been a blessing and a curse for the brew pub. It’s great that people are buying and drinking more craft beer, but it’s pretty tough for a full-service brew pub running a restaurant, bar and brewery to complete against a micro-brewery that’s set up in a garage with a food truck parked outside.
“The brew pub in larger towns and cities is almost becoming a thing of the past, I’d say. It’s really sad because I like to think 75th Street helped open the door, along with Boulevard, for all of these craft brewers,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter and 75th Street are going out in style. The brew pub is offering a month and a half of specials leading up to its closure. The specials run the gamut from 75-cent pints to retro menu specials where diners get to rediscover some of their favorite menu items from years gone by.
“Ever since we announced that we’re closing, the phone’s been ringing off the hook. People are calling and saying they got engaged here, or celebrated their graduation here. They’re calling to arrange one more experience,’ Carpenter said.
There’s no doubt these are bittersweet times for Carpenter and everyone else involved in 75th Street’s impressive 23-year run. Everyone’s proud of all 75th Street accomplished through the years, pleased with its more than two-decade run, but saddened it’s all coming to an end.
I’m a little sad too, but John Couture with KC Bier Station and Steve Holle with KC Bier Company are friends, so I still have much good beer to drink and plenty of fond memories to share. Plus, we all still have a few weeks to drop by and raise a pint or two to Kansas City’s original brew pub, 75th Street Brewery. Cheers!
Dave Eckert was the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS and Wealth TV for 12 seasons.