Beer Hour with KC mob expert Gary Jenkins
Red and white no parking signs are staked at many houses up and down this shady little block east of Wornall Road. And a larger metal sign stands guard at the corner of 79th street and Brookside Road with a simple declaration: “No KC Bier Co Parking.”
There’s a parking battle brewing in Waldo. Some longtime residents say the issues started after the brewery opened, but the car congestion really became problematic once the city started improvements on Brookside Road, alongside the brewery at 310 W. 79th St. The construction has pushed more parking to the residential area on 79th Street.
Steve Holle, KC Bier Co. founder and managing owner, agrees that the road work elevated the issue among neighbors.
“I know people don’t want to see their neighborhood change overnight. But the construction is what brought this to a head,” he said.
Still, neighbors aren’t interested in excuses. Vern Johnson, who has lived on the block for six years and moved in shortly before KC Bier Co. opened, said, “I generally enjoy a drink of beer, but they’ve turned what used to be a nice peaceful street into chaos.”
Holle has been proactive and met with the neighbors. He has even handed out the “no parking” signs, which are especially helpful on Saturday afternoons when families fill up the beer garden.
Nina Butner, who has lived on the block for more than two decades, said the no parking signs don’t always work.
“Then ... [customers] butt up to my driveway and on both sides of the street,” Butner said. “I know ... [KC Bier] has no control over how people park, but they can build their own garage.”
Drivers have taken to social media to complain. “It is only wide enough for one car to go through,” one neighbor wrote on Nextdoor. “You get stuck waiting for people to go through forever before you can get by. I love KC Bier but this is ridiculous. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be if you live right there. Yes, I got stuck for 15 minutes and had the same sentiment today.”
KC Bier Co. opened in February 2014, specializing in German-style beers. Now its products are sold in area grocery stores and restaurants, as well as throughout Kansas and the western part of Missouri.
It is a big space, with 77 seats in its Waldo tap room and seating for more than 200 people in the beer garden, which is on the east side of the building along the Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail.
But parking is limited. KC Bier has 21 parking spaces in its front lot, and Holle has leased nearly 40 spaces at a business across the street.
Before Holle opened the brewery, he figured customers would park on the west side of Brookside Road. But he would like to see “no parking” signs on the east side of Brookside, as to make room for two lanes of traffic.
“We worked hours and hours to get petitions but there are a lot of renters. We have to get the actual property owner,” Holle said. “Then, last fall, ... [the city] started working on Brookside and it has been continuously closed, forcing customers into the side streets. And we still don’t have any indication of when it is going to be finished.”
Water main replacement work has been going on since May 23 requiring the closure of Brookside Road, north of 79th Street. Storm sewer upgrades also has been ongoing on the block since the fall.
The wet weather hasn’t been a help to city crews working on the projects.
“We’ve been slowed down quite a bit because of the wet weather, which has slowed construction across the board. If everything goes as it should, it should be finished, Tuesday, June 25,” said Andy Shively, special assistant city manager for Kansas City, Mo.
Holle said he has even curtailed events for charity fundraisers to help alleviate the problems.
“I do recognize that our business is the primary source of traffic through the neighborhood, but the street shutdown is making it impossible,” he said.