There are dive bars that talk about being hard to find and then there are dive bars like Kansas City’s Chez Charlie that offer so little in the way of signage that multiple online reviews cite trouble finding its location. A white sign inscribed with the word ‘Cocktails’ provides the only hint that a Kansas City dive bar can be found here, a small graphic on the front door also spilling the secret. Opened in 1968 by boxer Charlie Gilloti, the vibe inside at that time famously revolved a set of written and unwritten rules enforced by Gilloti, including the banning of reading a newspaper because bars are for drinking, not reading.
Ownership has changed hands over the years, including a stint with ex-owner Moe Mauzey who owns Kansas City dive bar Fitz’s Blarney Stone that just so happens to share a building with Chez Charlie. Current owners Mark Inman and Bobby Asher executed a series of renovations in 2022 with the intent on preserving the divey appeal of the space while cleaning up some of its rougher edges. New carpet, flooring, stools and chairs paired with revamped cushioned benches in the back of the bar that predated the opening the bar. Most notably, renovations included refurbishment of a beautiful old school jukebox, a free to play vintage piece with an eclectic mix of jazz standards and just about everything else.
If the dart boards along the walls inside didn’t make a strong enough case, the absolute inundation of dart team plaques along the walls sells Chez Charlie as a darts destination. As home to one of the few remaining steel tip dart leagues in Kansas City, league nights pack a crowd. Once the site of a funeral parlor, the structure once covered in siding today has been stripped to reveal some of its original features. And not to sleep on Chez Charlie’s dive bar credentials, there is some suggestion that the location is the top seller of PBR cans in all of Kansas City, no small feat.