Kansas City Connection: Karaoke and a cup of joe

Whenever someone proposes a one-word group activity like trivia, Twister or karaoke, I instantly start refreshing my mental list of excuses. But if I find myself in an agreeable mood and decide to take part, I usually have a great time (except in the case of Twister — that never ends well). 

When it comes to karaoke, Westport’s new OffKeyKC, 510 Westport Road, is an excellent option for would-be pop stars and bachelor party celebrants to let loose, test their vocal ranges and host their own private concerts.

OffKey offers five private karaoke suites, starting at $30 an hour for small groups up to six people, $40 an hour for groups up to 10, and $50 for groups of 11 or more, with a two-hour minimum. With their darkness, disco ball lighting effects and powerful sound systems, the private suites feel uniquely designed to eliminate shyness. You’ll find yourself singing with the same abandon you would at home in the shower or while practicing rock star poses in the mirror.

Those who find that the two hours go by too quickly can either extend their time (barring existing reservations) or head out to the main bar area, where the microphone gets passed around among bartenders and other guests.

OffKey’s food and bottle service is provided by Local Pig Westport, the full-service restaurant, beer bar and cocktail lounge right next door (formerly known as Bridger’s Bottle Shop). Hours are 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday. To book a suite or plan an event, visit offkeykc.com

The Roasterie

If you’ve driven on I-35 near downtown Kansas City in the past couple of years, you’ve probably noticed the rooftop-mounted DC-3 airplane with its nose up as if just about to take flight. This creative installation sits atop the roasting and packaging factory of Kansas City’s popular coffee company, The Roasterie. 

With its coffee served in dozens of area restaurants, cafes and businesses, The Roasterie also has three bustling cafes: One in Leawood, at 4511 119th St.; the original location in Brookside, at 6223 Brookside Blvd.; and the Factory Café at 1204 W. 27th St. (you can’t miss it from Southwest Blvd.).

In addition to the decommissioned airplane on the roof, the Factory location offers tours of the roasting operation each weekday morning at 10 a.m., and on Saturdays at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. That location closes in the early afternoon, but the others are open late into the evening. For more information, visit theroasterie.com.

Boulevard Brewing Company

While you’re in the neighborhood, see about scheduling a visit to the Boulevard Brewing Company just down the street, whose free public tours take place each day (get in line at the gift shop before 10 a.m. to reserve a spot).

If you don’t get to Boulevard Brewery in time to reserve a spot in the tour, check out the pop-up Boulevard Dry Goods store at 414 Nichols Road on the Country Club Plaza. The store sells Boulevard gift items including socks, knit coozies, openers, snow globes and aprons — pretty much everything but beer.

Holiday Express Train

This week, Kansas City Southern’s Holiday Express Train with Santa returns to Union Station from Thursday afternoon through Sunday. The Holiday Express is an actual train that makes stops in several cities, with cars including Rudy the smiling tank car, a flatcar with Santa’s sleigh, a gingerbread boxcar, a mobile elves’ workshop, a reindeer stable and a red caboose. For small children, it’s a pretty fascinating experience.

Sponsored by the Kansas City Southern railroad company, the Holiday Express is free to enter, with donations accepted toward helping provide clothing for children in need. Reservations can be made starting Monday at unionstation.org.


Concert highlights this week include the Karrin Allyson Quintet, presented as part of the Folly Jazz Series at 8 p.m. Friday at the Folly Theater. Karrin will be performing songs from her 2013 album “Yuletide Hideaway.” She will also take part in an on-stage jazz interview with Crosby Kemper III at 7 p.m.

The Black Keys, the now world-famous blues/rock duo from Akron, Ohio, will be at the Sprint Center on Sunday, Dec. 21. Joining them on their Turn Blue World Tour will be special guest St. Vincent, no stranger to Grammy nominations herself. Tickets start at $35 at sprintcenter.com.

— Lucas Wetzel is a writer and editor from Kansas City, Mo. Know of an upcoming event in Kansas City you’d like to see featured in Kansas City Connection? Email us about it at kcconnection@ljworld.com.


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