The next time you’re at Paul & Jack’s Tavern, sidle up to the bar and ask the local sitting next to you to describe the tavern’s original owners. Following an initial smile, you’re likely to be met with a blank stare. That’s because brothers Paul and Jack founded their eponymous bar and grill all the way back in 1948—a time when North Kansas City still lacked a laid-back tavern where the neighborhood’s diverse crowd could gather for live entertainment and old-fashioned American burgers and chili.
Though the tavern’s popularity has climbed steadily in the six decades since the brothers opened their doors for business, its menu remains a testament to mid-century Americana. The dining room tends to be rowdiest around lunchtime, when crowds descend to sample footlong hot dogs, deli sandwiches, and bowls of chili still made according to a 50-year-old recipe. Later in the evening, after dinners of USDA Choice steaks and deep-fried catfish, guests can head out to the enclosed back patio and throw bouquets of hot wings at the live-music performers they most enjoy.
Spurred by a drive to instill children with a love for the arts and to build their self-esteem, professional actor Miles McMahon helms an array of educational programs at Theatre of the Imagination. He and his staff of local theater lovers build on more than 2,000 successful children's theatrical productions through creative summer camps, acting and performance classes, special workshops, and birthday parties for performers in prekindergarten through ninth grade. Miles writes a completely new work for each class and camp, using the script to immerse students in a cooperative, creative environment while freeing them from the pressures of lead roles, auditions, and autographer's elbow. Staff members can also conduct Movie Star Acting birthday parties, where they shoot a short film with the birthday child as the star.
Though it was once the sport of choice for the nation’s well-heeled gentry, croquet slowly found itself relegated to being a game played at family reunions with equipment found in your grandparent’s basement. Wanting to halt one of their favorite childhood pastimes slide into obscurity, the team at Kactus Creek Croquet Club decided to open up a six-wicket club specializing in these fun, less-formal games of American golf croquet. Greenery, a large waterfall—and the club’s namesake cacti—surround the USCA-certified club, creating a scenic spot for guests to learn the game under the helpful eye of an onsite instructor or hone their skills with an afternoon of match play. The club’s groundskeepers maintain the cushy hybrid bermuda grass to a fast golf-green quality with water supplied by caught rainwater, preserving the environment without having to buy pedal-operated golf carts.
From June to November each year, a cast of actors, directors, and designers descends upon Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre to produce eight celebrated shows, many along the lines of To Kill A Mockingbird and The Music Man. The cozy, unassuming theater has been welcoming performers for more than 50 years, staging renowned productions and Broadway plays to the delight of theater fans and comforters that aspire to be stage curtains.
Though the city's name would seem to suggest otherwise, Independence residents must still—by law—interact with each other occasionally. Luckily, Independence Events Center serves to bring the community together, hosting everything from national concert tours to youth hockey leagues within its walls. Such stars as Kelly Clarkson have graced the stage within the 5,800-seat arena, also home to local sports teams such as the Central Hockey League's Missouri Mavericks and the Major Indoor Soccer League's Missouri Comets. Additionally, a community rink lets residents and nonresidents alike hit the ice for programs ranging from open-skating sessions and lessons to private rentals for Civil War reenactments.
Founded by a fusion of a skilled chef, his wife, and their business partner, Nica's 320 aims to meld the traditional flavors of Italian, Thai, Caribbean, French, and Cajun cuisines into culinary gold. In the kitchen, chef Bryan Merker and his team plate a diverse menu that blends those influences into tasty entrees and mix-and-match specialties so creative they rival the gourmet cheese plates that NASA brought back from the moon. Inside Nica's 320’s exposed-brick dining room, constellations of local artwork contrast with a hammered-steel-topped bar that dispenses cocktails and cold showers beneath an ornate absinthe fountain. Lighting fixtures dangle from exposed ceilings, casting an amorous glow over cornbread pancakes, thai chicken, korean pork, jerk-steak slider trios, and sticky-rice crab cakes laced with savory cheddar and red-chili jam. Steaming plates of redefined risotto, pan-fried noodles, man n' cheese, and beignets peek curious palates. Outside, an open-air patio soaks its occupants in gentle breezes that —like the fountain—have the power to pacify.