Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Rotolo's Joe's Standard Bar – Home of the Best Live Music

Written by  May 31, 2004

Rotolo's Joe's Standard Bar in Blue Springs, Missouri may be one of the Kansas City areas newest bike night hot spots, but this biker friendly bar is rich in family history and tradition, and is one of the best kept secrets in the motorcycle community. Every Tuesday evening during riding season, the parking lot is roped off for bike only parking, and this nostalgic bar is transformed into a haven for bikers who enjoy live music, great food, and a place where they can roam around outside to mingle with friends and check out the bikes. Add a snug dance floor, several TVs for watching a Royals or Chiefs game, two pool tables and a couple of electronic dartboards for league play, and you have the perfect setting for a great biker hangout.

I truly believe that in this day and age of passing fads and gimmicks, owning and operating a successful bar, year after year, is both a science and an art, which the Rotolo family seems to have mastered. Without letting out too many of their secrets, I discovered that John and Debbi invite only the best and most entertaining bands to perform, such as The KC All Stars , Loose Change , Tail Spin, Issues, and the Oscar Polk Band. Using only the best bands such as these, is why Rotolo’s Joe’s Standard Bar is known as “The Home of the Best Live Music.” John explained that when a band approaches him about performing at their bar, the band is invited to audition live for them and their customers. If everyone likes them, they are invited back. If not, they move on to another bar that isn't as picky about their quality of entertainment. Rotolo's Joe's Standard Bar is open Tuesday through Saturday, and has live music every night except Thursday. Make sure to check out the calendar of events on their web site to keep tabs on what’s going on.

When it comes to great food, this is the place to be. I grew up fishing on the Missouri river and consider myself to be quite the catfish connoisseur, so when I tell you this place fries up some of the best farm-raised catfish I have ever tasted, take my word for it; or better yet, don't take my word for it, come judge for yourself. During my next visit, I'm having a hard time deciding between the hand-made burgers, the hand-tenderized tenderloin or a nice juicy steak.

I sat down one afternoon with owners, John and Debbi Rotolo, to find out more about this unique bike night location. According to John, his Uncle Joe and his father, Notzie, opened the original Joe's Standard Bar in downtown Kansas City in 1937. It was located at 14th and Locust, and was a thriving establishment until the downtown area began to dry up and most of the large businesses in the area closed. John worked at the bar most of his life, and on September 29, 2000, after more than 63 years of blood, sweat and tears; John locked the doors at Joe's Standard Bar for the last time.

Shortly afterwards, John and Debbi were talking with Dean Walker, of The Class Reunion, a popular Blue Springs nightclub, when Dean suggested they take a look at the bar right next door to them that was about to close. John and Debbi contacted the property manager of the small strip center, and as soon as they set foot through the door, they knew this was their new home. The old-fashioned bar and dark woodwork throughout the building reminded them of days gone by, and the antique phone booth they saved from their original bar fits perfectly into the new decor. In February of 2001, only six short months after closing the doors of their original bar, they reopened and were back in business.

To preserve family tradition, they decided to keep the original name, Joe's Standard Bar, and add their last name, Rotolo, to give it their own personal touch. When asked why the name of the original bar didn't include their last name, John explained that back in 1937, due to the public's perception of mob activity in the downtown and city market area, his Uncle Joe, being Italian, decided it would be better to use his first name for the business rather than his last name, like many other businesses were doing at that time.

So the next Tuesday evening you and your buddies are out cruising around, ride over to Rotolo's Joe's Standard Bar and tell John and Debbi that Mike sent you. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. Rotolo's Joe's Standard Bar is located at 1204 North 7 Highway, which is approximately one block north of I-70 on the east side of 7 Highway in Blue Springs, Missouri.

By Mike Schweder