Calendar » Night & Day

A Less Lonely Planet

Planet Café provides a good cup of coffee and a nice place to sit at 4 in the morning.


Insomniacs in Kansas City have it rough. There's always a bar open until three in the morning, but for the sober, there's only one choice: greasy french fries or "chilled" apple pie.

"Not everybody is a complete idiot or buffoon at three in the morning, drunk off their ass," says Corbin Peck. "There are a lot of people in this town who are night owls, who work night shifts, get off in the middle of the night and have nothing to do during their normal day. It's something most people don't think about."

Starting May 18, Peck and Jared Brown, who bought the five-year-old Planet Café in December, plan to keep the place open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Brown noticed that other cities -- and even some small towns -- had 24-hour coffee shops, and he "figured KC needed one."

Planet Café has already developed a reputation for innovation: It opened as a gay institution with the motto, "We are a straight-friendly café."

Not everybody who walks through the door is gay. The clientele is diverse and everybody is welcome.

"When I was growing up in this town, we didn't have anyplace to go," Peck says. "The gay kids would go to the park by Liberty Memorial to socialize." That wasn't the safest of hangouts, so Planet Café's original owners opened their coffee shop to give young people an alternative. And while the current owners want to encourage a straight-friendly philosophy, Brown says, "We want people to have someplace to go where they're not going to feel threatened and they know they're not going to be harmed in any way."

Peck and Brown hope that Planet Café will set a precedent for other businesses to stay open all night. Gaining acceptance as a 24-hour institution in this city has proven more challenging than gaining acceptance as a gay institution. "I tell people we're going to open 24 hours and they look at me like I'm crazy," Peck laments. "What's so wrong with that?"

Add a comment