The new SoT bar on Grand Boulevard in downtown Kansas City is the scene for a toast from Eric Piza of New Jersey (from left), Rocio Paez and Kristen Sobba, both of Little Rock, Ark., Kevin Wolff of New York and Jonathan Intravia of Indianapolis. Christopher Smith | Special to The Star

Photo tour around the block: Church makes a Grand addition to an eclectic area

Pastor Scott Chrostek delivers his sermon at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Downtown on McGee. The church recently broke ground on a new building at 16th and Grand. Christopher Smith | Special to The Star
Cigars at the Cigar Box on Grand Boulevard. Christopher Smith | Special to The Star
Al Latta sings the classics during one of his regular performances at the Cigar Box. Latta, a fixture at the old-school lounge, provides the perfect atmosphere for sipping a martini. Christopher Smith | Special to The Star
Down the street from the church under construction: a strip club and a lounge. Christopher Smith | Special to The Star
Rebecca Herrera takes orders from Mohammad Siddiqui and Jared Barker at Koko Thai. Christopher Smith | Special to The Star
The Sweet and Sour Salmon at Koko Thai features pan-seared salmon tossed with pineapple, bell peppers, onions and celery in a sweet and tangy garlic red sauce. It’s $11 at lunch, $13 for dinner. Christopher Smith | Special to The Star
Punk rockers Agent Orange perform at the RecordBar. Christopher Smith | Special to The Star
Retro Inferno features mid-century furniture, art and artifacts. Christopher Smith | Special to The Star
Ettore, the shop dog for Retro Inferno, sits among mid-century modern treasures. Christopher Smith | Special to The Star
Suzy Ethridge owns Suzy’s Cafe, serving sandwiches and homestyle entrees. In her 23 years owning the diner, she has seen big changes in the neighborhood. “It’s getting better for me,” she said. “It’s getting cleaner. It’s very different.” Christopher Smith | Special to The Star
Wesley Brockman tattoos Holly Gantt’s arm at the Mercy Seat Tattoo. Christopher Smith | Special to The Star
The Mercy Seat Tattoo is a fixture at 16th Street and Grand Boulevard. Christopher Smith | Special to The Star
Wesley Brockman tattoos Holly Gantt’s arm at the Mercy Seat Tattoo. Christopher Smith | Special to The Star

It may seem like an odd choice to nestle a church among a tattoo studio, a strip club, a music venue and bars, but that is exactly why Pastor Scott Chrostek wanted to build his new United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Downtown on Grand Boulevard near 16th Street.

“We absolutely love our neighborhood, and we love our neighbors,” said Chrostek. “It seemed like a great place to be since there is such a great spirit.” Resurrection has outgrown its current home nearby on McGee Street and is building a 15,236-square-foot church at one end of The Kansas City’s Star’s north parking lot.

Chrostek finds biblical allusions all over this Crossroads neighborhood.

“You can’t help but look around and see immediately to the east this glass building lit up. It’s The Star rising in the east,” he said, referring to The Star’s Press Pavilion. “The Three Kings coming to the child king followed the star rising in the east.

“Then you turn and look around and there is a building with a big sign talking about temptation,” as in Temptations strip club farther north on Grand. Then there is Mercy Seat Tattoo, alluding to the biblical forgiveness of sins. Lastly, the church’s original downtown home was formerly Crosstown Station, as in the Stations of the Cross in a church, Chrostek says.

“When we think about our building scripturally, this building is where we want to be and we are surrounded by the best neighbors. It has been so fun,” he said.

The church simply needs more space. “What began as a handful of people has grown to a community that has over 1,000 in worship,” said Chrostek. So the church finds other places for its more popular events, such as an Easter egg hunt from 10 a.m. to noon April 8 on the Liberty Memorial lawn and Easter services at 9 and 11 a.m. April 16 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

This will be the first new church building downtown in more than 80 years, Chrostek said. It will add another ingredient to the interesting mix on this block of Grand Boulevard. Among some of the longest-running businesses are Suzy’s Cafe, the Mercy Seat Tattoo and Retro Inferno.

“When I moved over here in March 2004, the Sprint Center (just to the north) wasn’t on the drawing board and the entertainment district wasn’t there. There wasn’t much on the street. The difference is huge,” said Retro Inferno owner Rod Parks. The shop carries a huge assortment of mid-century modern furniture, art and artifacts.

The Cigar Box is another staple on the block and is worth a visit on a weekend night to catch Al Latta performing classics by singers like Frank Sinatra.

 

Newcomers include the bright, cheery Koko Thai — try the Sweet and Sour Salmon — and the modern and elegant cocktail bar SoT (which stands for South of Truman Road). Try the Potosi Paloma or a Cocktail in the Rock there.

Across the street, the RecordBar, a former mainstay near Westport, features a steady stream of live music in its new Crossroads home.