Country Club Plaza

Francis Bourgouin / Flickr -- CC

What sets a truly great happy hour apart?

Well, delicious food and drinks, for one. There’s also the vibe of the place.

“The social aspect of this cannot be discounted, even in the discounted world of happy hour,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Plus, she added, it’s just good way to get to familiarize yourself with a new cuisine or try a restaurant that might normally be out of your price range.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Michelle Daytona served in the Army from 1997 to 2005 in Bosnia, Kosovo, Korea and Iraq.

She got a medical discharge when an IED blew up nearby, injuring her. 12 years later, she still has constant pain in her back and legs.

When Daytona got home, she began her transition — a process she’d fantasized about since she was 7 years old.

Charvex / Wikipedia Commons

Next week's primary elections will be the first under a new set of voter ID rules in the state of Missouri. While Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft says the regulations will help thwart fraud, some civil rights groups worry about voter suppression and have sued the state in response.

Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin / Flickr -- CC

There once was a time when "sausage" meant links or patties served with pancakes.

Not anymore, especially in Kansas City. We’ve seen a lot more sausage variety over the past few years.

“I think it’s part of the butchery trend,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “We have more and more chefs who are opening great butcher shops. With this return to artisan do-it-yourself butchery, sausage is a really incredible way to use up all the pieces and parts.”

Charvex / Wikipedia Commons

The J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain is named after a man who did great things for Kansas City. However, his achievements were accompanied by racist beliefs and policies that still divide us. Today, the Ethics Professors discuss whether we should rename monuments that honor historic figures whose standards don't pass contemporary moral muster. Then, we explore the gray area of political free speech for public educators.

Stacy Spensley / Flickr -- CC

Once, our idea of healthy eating revolved around the salad bowl.

But we’ve discovered that some salads can be deceptively unhealthy … and that there are other satisfying options on local menus.

On Friday’s Central Standard, KCUR's Food Critics explored what “healthy eating” really means.

“I believe there are so many personal definitions of what ‘healthy’ is,” Lisa Murphy told host Gina Kaufmann. “Every individual has to make their own choice and have their own personal philosophy.”

Ralph Daily / Flickr -- CC

Summer grilling season is upon us. Over this Memorial Day weekend, we’ll be firing up the backyard grill, cold beverage in hand.

But what exactly is grilling? KCUR’s Food Critics defined it on Friday’s Central Standard.

“It’s over hot fire or coals,” Carlton Logan told host Gina Kaufmann.

“Grilling is not barbeque,” added Charles Ferruzza. “The main difference is the speed. Grilling can be pretty fast. Barbeque is a slow-cooker thing.”

Bill Graham / Missouri Department of Conservation

Voyeuristic urban nature lovers can spend the summer spying on peregrine falcons as they mature from adorable fluffy chicks into fearsome predators, thanks to Missouri Department of Conservation cameras installed near their nests.

Those nests are in unnatural places: at the Commerce Tower in downtown Kansas City and the American Century Investments building near the Country Club Plaza, and atop the smokestacks at KCP&L's Iatan and Hawthorne power plants near the Missouri River and its Sibley Power Plant in Eastern Jackson County.

The Marmot / Flickr -- CC

Summer's on the horizon. And as temperatures start to rise, our thoughts turn to the drinks and dishes that'll help keep us cool.

From an old-school shrimp cocktail to spring rolls — and, of course, don't forget ice cream and shaved ice — KCUR's Food Critics searched out the best iced and chilled dishes in Kansas City on Central Standard.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

Courtesy Block Real Estate Services

Construction on the first multi-tenant office tower to go up in the Country Club Plaza in more than a decade is expected to begin this summer following approval of final incentives.

The 14-story 46 Penn Centre project is planned for 46th Terrace and Pennsylvania Avenue just north of the Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist by Block Real Estate Services.

Karen Neoh / Flickr -- CC

There’s a lot that can go between two slices of bread.

Portable and fuss-free — no need for utensils — sandwiches are perfect for work lunches or picnics.

Erin / Flickr -- CC

Brunch can take on many different forms.

There’s the all-you-can-eat buffet, complete with waffle and omelet stations.

And don’t forget the boozy brunch — quite possibly the only time of the week where one could have a drink in the morning without feeling too guilty.

On Friday's Central Standard, KCUR's Food Critics took their annual look at the best brunch dishes in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Platige Films

It's an exciting year for the Kansas City FilmFest. Today, we preview the high-profile guests coming to town, the inclusion of the Dog Film Festival, and the top Midwest films of the year, like Big Sonia.

Michael Korcuska / Flickr -- CC

From the old classics to “interactive” cocktails — and don't forget mocktails — there’s a drink for everyone in KC.

Whether you like your drinks fancy (made with local spirits, fresh herbs and juices and more) or something more simple (usually involving just one type of liquor), KCUR's Food Critics searched out the best cocktails in and around Kansas City in our annual look at libations.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

Mid-Continent Public Library / http://www.nelson-atkins.org/calendar/film-step-plaza/

You've probably driven through this cute little neighborhood between Westport and the Plaza, with its bungalows with stone porches. But you may not know that this neighborhood used to be called Steptoe — and it's where freed slaves built new lives for themselves. Hear more about this historic area and the project to collect and preserve its oral history.

Also: Remembering Latino civil rights leader Gilbert Guerrero.

Guests:

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

After 30 years in its Country Club Plaza location, Houston’s restaurant will be closing its doors for good Tuesday. The closure comes unexpectedly for many, as the restaurant made the announcement Thursday – leaving Kansas City with only days to have one last meal or drink there. 

Houston’s is closing due to issues with the lease, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

The Rieger / Facebook

When it’s cold out, a big, hearty bowl of pasta really hits the spot.

Whether it’s a creamy mac and cheese or something a little more sophisticated (squid-ink noodles, anyone?), KCUR’s Food Critics search out the best pasta dishes in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

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Why do you get one Tater Tot in your order of fries at Winstead’s?

According to Kathy Fern, the general manager at the Winstead’s near the Plaza, that’s not a mistake.

About five years ago, they started adding the lone tot as a promotional thing, but then it stuck. It’s something they strive to do with each order, she said, though that renegade tot doesn’t always appear.

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It's an especially good time of year for comfort food. It's cold out, and it's the holidays, when traditional, hearty, no-frills dishes show up on our tables. KCUR's Food Critics search out the best comforting dishes (outside of grandma's house) in and around KC.

Plus, one reporter's memories of Winstead's (and why you get one tater tot in your order of fries there), and a visit to Sugar Creek, where a former mayor and his wife throw an annual holiday party — a tradition that came with their hilltop house.

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The installation called "The Steeple of Light" shines like a beacon from the rooftop of Community Christian Church at 4601 Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri. But the artist behind it is not as well-known. Sculptor Dale Eldred died in his West Bottoms studio during the 1993 flood, while trying to save his equipment from the rising waters. Since 1994, his "Steeple of Light" has illuminated the night sky.

chocolatsombre / Flickr--CC

Animal rights groups in Kansas City are taking action after Saturday night’s accident involving a horse-drawn carriage on the Country Club Plaza. 

According to Kansas City police, a horse pulling a carriage with four passengers started running out of control and crashed into a fence on the bridge at Ward Parkway and Wornall. Three people were injured, as well as the horse.

The incident has sparked debate on social media over animal rights. Some people believe it's time to end the practice of horse-drawn carriages in the city.  

Uncertainty surrounds the Affordable Care Act, as some Republicans have vowed to repeal and replace it. Today, a former Obama administration official discusses possible changes to the law. Then, Brian McTavish presents a Thanksgiving version of his Weekend To-Do List.

Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

Updated 5 p.m. Monday by KCUR reporter Laura Ziegler

Kansas City, Mo. police detectives say they are following up on accounts from several witnesses to the Saturday night shootings at 4700 Broadway on the Country Club Plaza. Witnesses reported two gunshot victims, who were both transported to St. Luke's Hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

Missouri Division of Tourism / Flickr - CC

What to gaze upon this weekend?

There’s plenty to see, including rodeo performers and commemorative warbirds in daring action, scads of visual art around the Country Club Plaza and a singularly crazy sock puppet that successfully blows up the norm – funny how it only takes one.

So set your peepers on “watch” and revel in the readily observable. If it gets to be too much, I guess you can close an eye. But not both. C’mon, let’s get with the program.

1. American Royal Pro Rodeo

Local artists are painting the town red (and other colors too) as the annual Brush Creek Art Walk competition strikes canvases next weekend, along the banks of Brush Creek. You can watch people create their works en plein air, but keep in mind that dealing with the great outdoors isn't as easy as the masters might make it seem.

Guests: 

InterContinental Kansas City At The Plaza

The InterContinental — the iconic hotel on the corner of the Country Club plaza — wants to be designated as blighted. 

The hotel went before a Kansas City Council committee Wednesday to ask for the designation so it can establish a community improvement district, which would allow the hotel to create 1 percent a sales tax to help pay for renovations.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A proposed $227 million extension of Kansas City’s streetcar line could add nearly four miles to the current route.

The Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance – a citizens’ group not affiliated with the city or the KC Streetcar Authority – filed a petition in Jackson County Court Wednesday to fund an expansion of the current line with a new taxing district along Main Street.

“You think about the shops we have here,” UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton said Thursday morning outside the Colonial Shops on 51st Street. “You think about the Plaza. You think about the Nelson art gallery.”

Kevin Collison for KCUR

Lawyer Mike White remembers the community reaction in 1984 to the first tax-increment financing project in Kansas City.

“It was pretty much a yawner,” he said. “No one knew what TIF was.”

More than 30 years later, TIF may be almost as well-known an acronym as the IRS in Kansas City, and in some quarters, equally unpopular.

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

The second Tuesday in April each year has been designated as Fountain Day — the day Kansas City fountains spring back to life. This year, the festivities included one fountain that had been dry for the last four years.

A crowd cheered as water cascaded down the 28-foot wall and steps of the William Volker Memorial Fountain in Theis Park, just south of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Over the course of his 70-year career, architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed about 1,100 skyscrapers, hotels, churches, museums, and homes. More than 500 of these were built, and seven are in Kansas and Missouri. 

In Missouri: 

Bott House (1956, built 1963)
3640 NW Briarcliff Road, Kansas City

This double-cantilever house perches on a bluff just north of downtown Kansas City, with dramatic views of the city and the Missouri River. It's in the Usonian style — a small, single-story home in an L-shape. 

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