When a school of music also contains a live-performance venue, it’s an indicator that the lessons stick. Such is the case with the Columbia Academy of Music, where private practice rooms sit just steps from The Bridge, a club accustomed to welcoming musical talent from down the street and around the country. A stage within range of instruction can inspire even the most stage-frightened students to step into the spotlight, where they’ll get the hands-on, feet-on stage experience that renders books worthless.
The academy’s tuneful staffers are no strangers to this kind of public performance—some instructors have shared the stage with the likes of Chuck Berry, Sting, and Hank Williams III—but many also are experts in what goes on behind the music. In lessons tailored for all ages, skill sets, and music-making manners, the school strengthens the confidence of budding musicians in once-a-week sessions. Instrument instruction infuses students with techniques across a range of musical genres; audio-production and engineering courses teach students how to make solid records and tolerate most singers’ misguided requests for more Steak-Umms in the monitor.
Freezing Missouri winter winds howl outside Tropical Liqueurs' fogged-up windows, but inside, the atmosphere is decidedly beach-like. Palm trees and nautical knickknacks decorate the lively interior, but the true stars of this tropically themed watering hole are the frozen-drink dispensers, which churn with colorful, fruity potations. Bartenders load large styrofoam cups with potent slushies made from creative combinations of juices, liqueurs, and fruit purées. They rotate drink selections regularly, spotlighting a toasted-almond concoction one week—packed with coffee liquor, amaretto, and vanilla ice cream—and a daiquiri with fresh strawberries the next. Icy potations in hand, visitors turn their attention to games of pool or flat-screen televisions, which broadcast local sports games or horror movies where local sports games come to a temporary halt when the mascot turns out to be an actual tiger. During warmer months, visitors loll in the sun out on the wooden patio and enjoy the beverages that Inside Columbia hailed as a "Columbia staple" when it dubbed Tropical Liqueurs the Best Place for a Girls' Night Out in 2012.
Midway One Stop Diner's staff takes its homestyle comfort cuisine seriously, especially when it comes to the Big 70 challenge. This platter of seven biscuits, four slices of bacon, two servings of hash browns, and 70 ounces of creamy sausage gravy is so hearty that it has only been finished by three people. Not to worry, though?the majority of visitors who aren't up to the task have a range of diner classics to choose from, all of which are served 24 hours a day. Three-egg omelets and hot cakes are crafted fresh throughout the day and night alongside platters of grilled or fried pork, steak, or chicken. Another signature dish is the monster burger, a 1-pound patty smothered in cheese and other toppings.
Chef John Lee lords over a traditional barbecue grill at KUI Korean BBQ, his face illuminated by flames rising up from the oak-wood charcoal. Gingerly, he sizzles thin slices of tender bulgogi beef, plump galbi short ribs, and strips of spicy chicken. He then assembles the smoky meats on beds of rice alongside nests of carrots, tufts of bean sprouts, and a bright-yellow fried egg. To craft authentic Korean gimbap, he folds rice, egg, pickled radish, and fish cake into a seaweed roll. As John labors in the kitchen, his wife bustles about the casual dining room, greeting customers, handing out glasses of fruity soju cocktails, and refereeing sporadic games of musical chairs.
There's always something happening this eclectic bar, from standup to trivia to karaoke. Theme nights run Monday–Saturday and draw a diverse and friendly crowd that sips microbrews while playing board games, swigs PBR while dancing the night away, or quaffs other adult libations out of the bar's rentable drinking horns. Two dartboards, a pinball machine, and a jukebox add a vintage element to the spot, and free WiFi keeps patrons connected to the present. Eastside Tavern does not serve food, but folks are encouraged to take advantage of the BYO eats policy.
With its multitudes of flat-screen TVs, mouthwatering appetizers, onsite sand volleyball pit, and front and rear outdoor patios, it's safe to say that Tiger Club is a sports haven. The 20-year-old bar was recently remodeled, and guests can saddle up to the brand new bar to catch the game or grab a slice of thin-crust pizza. Outside, volleyball teams fight for the championship and their parents’ approval as guests gather at the tables surrounding the court, enjoying cold beers and cocktails. Back inside the bar, the party rages on as friendly patrons create what the staff has dubbed “a Cheers-like atmosphere.”