There are some iconic landmarks in Brookside and Waldo…places like Waldo Pizza, Roasterie Coffee, the Piano Room, McLain’s Bakery, Charlie Hoopers…and many more. It’s what makes our neighborhood unique; these are not cookie cutter chains. They are the kind of locally owned spots that you always enjoy going to; a place where you bring visitors and meet friends; often a place where the staff is consistent or you bump into someone you know. One of our landmarks is changing hands next year: Bier Station.
I first wrote about Bier Station ten years ago, shortly before it opened. Owner John Couture was at the very beginning of the craft beer explosion: he offered 21 taps of fresh, rotating beers and hundreds of bottled options for customers to create their own personalized six packs. He and his family lived close by, and welcomed kids who stopped in with their parents, offering games and puzzles. Eventually John added more food selections and an outdoor patio. The neighborhood embraced and supported Bier Station; it was becoming a landmark.
John did more than just sell beer; he started hosting events that supported local candidates and non-profit causes he believed in. Bier Station initiated Q&A sessions with our local city council reps, fundraisers for Animal Rescue Alliance, Moms Demand Action, homeless teen parents and various candidates for office; there were comedy nights, silent auctions and the infamous Josh Hawley Fun Run – the money raised from that event went to causes that the conservative Missouri senator is against. John has always been an activist at heart, and he invited the community to participate and make a difference, as they enjoyed a beverage and conversation.
When I visited with John last week, he emphasized how much he’s enjoyed having Bier Station but it was time to move on. “During the past decade, people’s drinking habits have changed. There were just a couple of craft beer places in KC when I opened; now there are at least 30 or 40 options. I’m proud to have opened the first craft beer/ tasting bar /bottle shop in the Midwest. The bar has won many national awards and we’ve raised over $300,000 for non profit causes and civic campaigns”. One of the events he’s most proud of: working with the dean of Pharmacy at KU to host a COVID 19 vaccine clinic last year, vaccinating over 1000 people. And in December 2020 when vandals smashed the front door of the building, locals came by with envelopes of money to help pay for the repair: McLain’s brought over goodies for the staff and business surged in support. “Our customers really are the best! They are very friendly, very generous with tips and they get to know our staff. Several close friendships between staff and patrons have developed over the years.”
City Barrel Brewery and Kitchen has purchased Bier Station and has a few changes planned: they will serve New York style pizza and redo the patio out front, adding a roof. There will still sell beer to go and have several local brews on tap. As for John, he is taking some time off- his family is “very excited” to see more of him as he figures out next steps that will include some sort of political activism. In the meantime, John invites you to stop in and enjoy a brew and say goodbye before Bier Station changes hands. There is a big staff reunion on Monday Dec 19 and a final celebration on New Year’s Eve—the last night of Bier Station. Mark your calendar! Bier Station is located at 120 E. Gregory. Thank you John, and Bier Station, for all you have done for our neighborhood and community!