Story by Dave Eckert | @eatsanddrinkswithdave
Summer is finally here, which, for me, means plenty of time soaking up the sunshine and warm, alright hot, weather. Last month, I gave you some insights into great places to dine al fresco this summer and fall. Today, I’m back with a look at some outdoor venues to enjoy an adult beverage or two.
My first stop is Three Halves Brewing, just a hop, skip, and a jump from my home. Three Halves occupies a space just off the square in downtown Liberty that formerly housed Rock and Run Brewery. Owner John Kennebeck inherited the property’s large outdoor patio and promptly cut it down to accommodate his new partners, Jousting Pigs Barbecue and their large smoker. The deck still has plenty of room to accommodate both beer drinkers and BBQ eaters (not that the two are mutually exclusive). I love the shade and the vibe. “I think we’ve hit a real sweet spot with regards to both the barbecue and the beer. The deck is the perfect place to enjoy them both,” Kennebeck said.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THREE HALVES BREWING
Kennebeck was still finding his land legs at the time of my visit after the spring passing of head brewer. “I remember him sitting at the bar when we would discuss beers we wanted to brew. He would close his eyes, nod his head, and say ‘I can taste it’.” You can too, all summer and fall on the deck at Three Halves Brewing.
From a relatively new addition to the outdoor dining and drinking scene to one of the, if not the, most iconic outdoor setting in Kansas City – the deck at Gram & Dun restaurant on The Country Club Plaza. Gram & Dun has been packing the deck for ten years. GM Stephen Molloy remembers those days well. “This has always been a special place. When they’re in town, celebrities like to come here. Royals’ players frequent the deck all the time. There’s always a great buzz going here,” Molloy mused.
Following nearly a year and a half of being cooped up inside, Gram & Dun’s deck patrons are thirstier than ever for the deck’s ambiance and G&D’s bar and food program. “On a good day or night, there’s just a great energy on the deck. The great thing about it is that it’s been here so long that it’s really well known. So, the locals all come, but with all of the hotels around The Plaza, we get a ton of out-of-towners too,” Molloy said.
PHOTO COURTESY OF GRAM & DUN
Molloy says they will have no problem packing the deck all summer and fall, though staffing those packed days and nights is another issue altogether. “We want guests to have a great time, but also understand our limitations: space, staffing, and most of all, weather,” Molloy shared. Rain, heat, and cold are just part of the juggling act of running a patio-based restaurant, so enjoy the outdoor space when you can and understand and be kind when you can’t.
Finally, onto of the most beautiful spaces to enjoy a glass of wine or cider in the metro-Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery. Located right down the road from the Louisburg Cider Mill, Somerset Ridge has been drawing throngs of visitors for years. “Once we planted the vines, people saw them and just started showing up,” Cindy Campbell-Reynolds recalled. “It turned out to be very enjoyable talking with people, taking them on walking tours of the vineyard and letting them taste the wines, we came to realize that we needed a place outside to accommodate guests, so the tasting room and outdoor patio areas were born.”
And, just like a child, that outdoor space has grown and taken on a life and personality of its own. It’s popular, so popular in fact, that the Reynolds added a second outdoor space and tasting room in Martin City. “We’re located inside the beautiful brick courtyard at Rosehill Gardens on the main drag in Martin City. It’s gorgeous and has lots and lots of room for live music, wine tasting, special events, etc.” Reynolds told me. What’s more, the Martin City location has a resident chef this year. Chef Carmen Cabia, a Barcelona native, features a beautiful menu of authentic Spanish tapas and paella.
Between the two locations, Campbell-Reynolds says 80-percent of the space for customer visits is outdoors, which is exactly what many people are looking for. “People are excited to finally be out of their houses, feel human, and have some fun while being safe. When someone asks me how we space our tables, I let them know they can have their own acre!” Campbell-Reynolds exclaimed.
Three very different outdoor options, but all with an ambiance and energy sure to draw you back. Cheers!