A Case for Nostalgia: The Plaza

Going to the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City these days makes me miss how it used to be, so I was happy to discover a new restaurant in the neighborhood.

My sister and I met two of our cousins at Eggtc., just south of the Plaza. eggscetera exterior KC Oct 2009It was busy, as you would expect on a Saturday mid-morning, and we had to wait. We spent the time catching up on work and home lives.

The hostess seated us at the large communal table in this picture.eggscetera interior KC Oct 2009

I ordered the sweet couscous, which resembled grits but had a different flavor, and an acai shooter.eggscetera sweet couscous KC Oct 2009

I’ve now been to two breakfast places in Kansas City: Eggct. and First Watch, on 119th out south, which reminded me of the Egg and I in Broomfield but wasn’t as good. I do recommend Eggct.

Several times on this trip I have walked the Plaza by myself, remembering Woolf Brothers, a Kansas City department store established in the nineteenth century, and other stores that used to be here when I was growing up. There were chains then, of course, but they seemed a little closer to home. Or, perhaps, just smaller.

Of the stores I remember, Halls, the department store founded by Joyce C. Hall, who also founded Hallmark, still anchors the eastern end of the Plaza; and Tivol, a jewelry store, is located at 220 Nichols Road. I doubt I ever shopped at Tivol, having no budget for high-end jewelry. Eddie Bauer occupies the Woolf Brothers location.

The Plaza is still the area that gives Kansas City its reputation as the city of fountains (this mermaid fountain graces the courtyard outside Eddie Bauer). Mermaid fountain day 2 KC Nov 2009One Saturday night in high school, my friends and I collected all the change we could from the fountains on the Plaza. It was illegal, but we didn’t get caught. We used the money to buy a meal at Denny’s.

Winstead’s location just east of the Plaza on Main (opened in 1940) Winstead's exterior Plaza KC Nov 2009still serves square steakburger patties on a round bun, Winstead's square meat burger KC Nov 2009cherry limeades, and Skyscraper Shakes big enough for four. (Winstead’s was originally founded in Springfield, Illinois, but I don’t think that store exists anymore.)

Some things have even changed for the better. Brush Creek used to flow in a narrow channel hardly wider than a sidewalk, but now it has more room. WaterFire 2 KC Oct 2009Hard to believe it used to be a swamp before the Plaza was built in 1922, isn’t it?