In the Loop



CELINA TIO OPENS THE BELFRY

James Beard Award-winning chef Celina Tio is at it again, debuting her newest adventure: a bar named The Belfry.
Located at 1532 Grand Blvd. in Kansas City, Mo., just behind Tio’s “American feel-good” restaurant, Collection, The Belfry will have food, coffee and an array of beers from breweries such as Boulevard, New Belgium, Stiegl and Fire Walker.  Tio’s popular brew, Julian NBB Love, will also be featured on the beer menu.
Like its counterpart, Collection, The Belfry gets its name from the various places the students and faculty convene on Pennsylvania’s Westtown School campus. The Belfry’s atmosphere will be different from that of Brookside's Julian and the Crossroads Art District's Collection — imparting more of a relaxed, homey and casual feel.
The bar will also have a membership program, where members are given two branded glasses engraved by Tio herself — one to take home and one to leave at the bar — a 33 Bottles of Beer tasting book to log their specialty beer tastings, and a keychain bottle opener. 
The second engraved glass earns the member a 10 percent discount off their tab every Monday and Tuesday, beer specials on Thursdays and first crack on all specialty events. The membership is $40 for the first year and $30 for each additional year.
Patrons will get the chance to learn more about beer at events, beer tastings and mini Cicerone training, and even experience some beer pairings.
The Belfry is Tio’s third establishment in Kansas City and is open “morning, noon and night,” from 7 a.m. to midnight.

CONTEST WINNER NOW ON THE MENU AT 75TH STREET BREWERY

Craft beers, brew pubs and homemade brews — they’re all common terms in the KC beer scene. With the growing popularity of the specialty beer, Raytown brewing enthusiast Chad Crawford is contributing his home brew, Silent Partner Stout, to the metro area’s diverse selection.
Crawford’s Home Brew Contest winning recipe is now featured at 75th Street Brewery in Waldo, one of Kansas City’s original brew pubs.
Although Crawford has only been brewing for one year, his latest recipe, a chocolate-infused ale, earned top honors at the contest, which was part of a celebration of KC Hopps, Ltd., and 75th Street Brewery’s 20th anniversary.
In his victory, Crawford earned the opportunity to not only brew his recipe at 75th Street Brewery but also have it placed on its beer menu.
Pat Sandman, 75th Street’s head brewer, describes the winning stout as having a “nice, malty backbone with roasted chocolate undertones” and finishing with a smooth sweetness.
Sandman and Crawford began the brewing process in mid-January, yielding seven barrels, or about 14 kegs. They say it will be available at 75th Street at least through February.

VISA RETURNS TO JOCO DMV

Visa cards are back in play at Johnson County’s Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices.
The reason for the reinstatement isn’t clear, but patrons of the Kansas offices in Mission and Olathe are just glad the inconvenience is over.  
“It’s good to give people more options,” says Raelyn Funk of Mission, Kan.   
The county stopped accepting the major credit card for in-person motor vehicle transactions in 2011. Taxes on new vehicles can amount to thousands of dollars, so frustrated Visa holders faced inconvenience plus the lost opportunity to collect a pile of points and cash-back credits. Many residents also wondered why the county accepted MasterCard and Discover at its DMV offices, but not Visa.
Johnson County Deputy Treasurer Greg Baldwin, while acknowledging taxpayers’ frustration, says the county had no choice.  
“It was Visa’s decision that we could no longer accept its credit card for motor vehicle transactions,” Baldwin tells 435 Magazine. “This wasn’t the county’s decision; we took Visa for years. But Visa decided that we could no longer use its credit card because we collected other fees — on top of taxes — in our motor vehicle transactions.  
“This issue only applied to point-of-sale payments. Customers could always use their Visa cards for online transactions, like renewing their vehicles’ license plates. The fees are needed to cover costs, such as those charged by a payment processing company.  
“That fee is added on top of the taxes that residents pay. Visa took the stance that we didn’t meet the criteria required to pass on that fee to customers. We also have a registration fee associated with our motor vehicle transactions.”  
But other counties in Kansas charge similar fees when taxpayers register or renew their vehicles. And they’ve accepted Visa for years. Why the difference?
“In Kansas, county treasurers manage the title and registration offices,” said Jeannine Koranda, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Revenue. “They determine everything from hours and staffing levels to what forms of payment are accepted.”   
435 Magazine repeatedly asked Visa for an explanation, but the company did not respond.  
Baldwin offered his own theory. He suspects someone filed a complaint with Visa about the service fee Johnson County charged at its DMV offices.   
“We were likely flagged,” Baldwin says. “At some level, Visa was probably notified by a customer or a competing vendor that Johnson County was assessing a service fee in a face-to-face transaction at the DMV. Visa then did some checking and determined that fee didn’t meet its tax payment program guidelines.  
“If someone had complained about the service fee in another county, there likely would have been the same result.”  
Visa, however, resolved this when it changed its policy a few months ago.
“The company decided to accept more types of governmental transactions,” Baldwin says. “And those included motor vehicle transactions.”  
For Baldwin, the result is all that matters.
“We are very excited to turn Visa back on for customers at our motor vehicle offices,” he says.  
Taxpayers like Raelyn Funk welcomed the news, but she wants the county to do a better job to let the public know about the 2.4 percent service fee they’ll pay to use Visa, Discover or MasterCard at the DMV offices.  
The county’s website states: “There will be a service fee charged by the payment processor for using a credit or debit card.”   
But Funk noticed there aren’t any signs about the service fee at the DMV office in Mission.
“Some people don’t have Internet access,” she says. “The county needs to find another way besides its website to inform people about the service fee.”  
Venita Trites of Lenexa, Kan., agrees. She didn’t know about the added cost until she arrived at the DMV office. County employees tell customers about the fee when they pay their bills.  
“I won’t use a credit card if I’m charged a service fee,” Trite says. “I will write a check.”  
Funk, however, decided to use her credit card to cover the costs of transferring her license plates from Missouri to Kansas.
“It only added $3.95 to my bill,” she says.