The Kee evolved1/15/2014
What does it mean to evolve? It’s a science, a natural occurrence, an inevitability. It means progress and, ultimately, it means survival — survival of the fittest, and that goes not only for nature but for business as well. Steve Stroud seems to understand that. When describing his latest business venture, a one-month-old bar dubbed The Kee on the Waukee triangle, “evolve” is a word he uses a lot.
And a more fitting word could not be uttered, as one of Waukee’s oldest social hubs has transformed. The longtime Mama Chop’s Restaurant became the Whiskey Barrel last year when the Sayers family sold the business. But since then the key — or rather, The Kee — has been handed over to a new guy on the block. The dimly lit, country-western watering hole with a quaint bar in the corner has a more contemporary look, rendering the neighborhood staple almost unrecognizable. The wall dividing the diner and the bar has been torn down, replaced by bar seating that divides the U-shaped bar from the pool table and games, and the dated paint job, furniture and décor has been replaced by some handy brick and plaster work and Earth-tone colors. It went from country to cool. Stroud calls it “a clean dive bar.”
“It might even evolve to become more than that,” Stroud said, “to The Kee Bar and Grill.” The bar currently serves a couple sandwiches and pizza, but the former restaurant is capable of offering a full lunch menu, daily food specials and whatever else is needed to accommodate his patrons, he said.
“I want people to have a selection,” Stroud said.
But he couldn’t have done it without the wits of his keen girlfriend, Cindy Schecher, who bartends along with a young staff of neighborhood regulars (who were instrumental in the renovation work, Stroud said), and it was Schecher’s daughter, Jordan Sheehey, who came up with the bar’s handy handle.
“Whenever anyone is talking about Waukee, they just call it ‘The Kee,’ ” the Waukee High School senior told Stroud — not that he needed a tip on hip, right?
LAST CALL Learn the finer points of making a classic cocktail with Americana’s Cocktail 101: Al Capone, which will be a monthly occurrence at the restaurant. The event will be hosted by house mixologist Nick Eldredge on Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. Guests will honor Al Capone on the eve of his 115th birthday with a celebration that includes sampling some drinks with an edge. Americana is teaming up with Templeton Rye to make drinks from the Prohibition Era and Capone’s favorites. Each guest will have a mixing station where he or she will learn how to make two signature cocktails and the process of modern and past mixology. Small finger foods to fit the theme and a “Prohibition Gangster Punch” will also be offered. Templeton Rye and Americana have also built a complimentary gift bag for each attendant. The cost is $49 per person and this includes gratuity. Space is limited to 30. Call Americana at 283-1312. CVThe Kee 360 Sixth St., Waukee 518-2820 HOURS: 10 a.m.-2 a.m. every day HAPPY HOUR: Happy-hour prices every day all day KITCHEN: Anytime with lunch to come in a couple weeks from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. CAPACITY: About 50