Freaks and Greeks

It never occurred to us that the farm-team concept could be applied to bars. But after checking out Tasso’s, the Greek restaurant at 84th and Wornall, we couldn’t help but think of it as Have a Nice Day Lite. The Royals have the Omaha Royals, the San Jose Sharks used to have the Blades, and the Chiefs had the 49ers (Montana, Bono, Grbac — need we say more?). And now, Tasso’s joins this illustrious list of feeder teams. Located in the delightfully seedy stretch of Wornall south of Waldo, it’s the one spot there that bustles after 8 p.m. since Jamaican Me Crazee closed. Remember that place, which also existed in one incarnation as Kamikaze Koast? Well, neither do we.

Tasso’s is usually packed with huge groups celebrating special occasions. One recent night we found the lights dimmed, and the brightest spot in the room was the dance floor, where a loud emcee called up various diners to laud their life milestones. He was backed by a one-man band, a goateed professor type wearing a turtleneck sweater, blazer and glasses.

Above the din, the shrill mating call of the big-hairs pierced the clatter: “It’s going to be a crazy night!! Woooooo!!!” We were slightly alarmed and looked to the back of the place, expecting to see a gaggle of bachelorette chicks in fuck-me black pants. Instead, the sound seemed to emanate from what appeared to be a family doing shots.

“You know,” said our pfficial research assistant, “what we need to do is get a big group of people together for dinner, get here early, get hammered and then watch the floor show.” As he spoke, plates were being hurled onto the floor, as 6-foot-tall Yugoslavian identical-twin waitresses performed a traditional Greek dance with a cute, shorter waiter, their arms linked and their feet kicking away. A bazoomy belly dancer soon took over and offered lessons to a flock of blond, lithe teens in club tops from Wet Seal. “Go, Shawnee Mission East class of 2004!” we cheered. “Yea, Lancers!”

In the midst of the chaos, getting hammered seemed like a fine idea, so we ordered the house specialty, a bluzo. Made with one part blue curaçao and two parts ouzo, it was less harsh than regular ouzo — and more colorful, resembling antifreeze. Served on the rocks and tasting of licorice, it was as smooth as the hot waiters who were working the place. Which made the whole experience seem vaguely like a trip on the Love Boat, especially when our ship’s photographer offered to take our picture as a souvenir. He was followed by someone selling roses, though sadly, she didn’t ask the Research Assistant if he wanted one for his “special lady friend,” as we had half hoped.

“Let’s bump the energy up!” screamed the emcee, and bump it up the crowd did, as the fog machine billowed and the disco ball spun lazily, throwing slivers of light on the frenetic dancers. The rollicking Greek music switched over to disco, which just emphasized what the place had in common with the Have a Nice Day Café besides good people watching and blue drinks.

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