Sue Pfeiffer sits on a barstool among a mountain of paperwork, decades of tavern memorabilia above and to all sides of her.
The second-generation owner of the iconic Do Drop Inn in downtown Lee’s Summit has a different look to her these days. Her bar is closing. And, she knows, there will never be another one like it here. Or anywhere for that matter.
Between baby showers, bands and bar fights, wedding proposals, windows broken and wheelbarrowing down Third Street, there are enough stories at 22 SW Third Street to fill a thousand novels.
Some of them, Sue tells in confidence. Others, she can recall, laugh, shake her head and say, “OK, next story…”
Her parents, Carl and Stella, bought the bar in 1961.
“They didn’t go out that much, but they went to that bar on occasion,” she said, recalling one of them saying, “we need to buy that place.”
They did, and the Do Drop Inn was born.
Sue joined the team in 1982, a year after the birth of her daughter, Amanda — who 20 years later would become the third-generation owner of the unapologetic dive bar.
Back in the 1960s and 70s, the Do was on a quiet stretch of west Third Street. It had six or seven bar stools and two taps. Stella opened and Carl worked at night. Sue joined the mix and continued the tradition of serving morning customers and third-shift workers. A smoking ban in the bars and many cultural changes eventually forced new hours on her.
“I’d have a bar full at 10 in the morning” she recalls. “As things shifted here, that was really hard for me, to not be open in the day. I loved the day shift.”
Even with the small changes that came her way, Sue and the Do showed an immense ability to change and roll with the bar changes over the years. Beer taps of Budweiser and Schlitz evolved into offering well drinks and eventually a fully-stocked liquor selection, something she had to talk her dad into doing.
Sue said the rebound started to happen in the late 1980s with the formation of the Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street organization and, later, the streetscape project that many businesses patiently waited out for the betterment of the downtown area. Sue served on the DLSMS Board of Directors and worked with various committees during that revival.
The Do was one of the first downtown bars to offer craft brews, a stark change from the $1.50 PBR draws. Although Sue says both had a place on her taps as she continued to embrace the changing industry.
“There were lots of times I could have went broke, but I am too damn hard-headed,” she said. “I like progress and change. I can handle it.”
The willingness to grow and still feel very much like the quintessential Do Drop Inn is a hallmark of this dive.
When Amanda joined her mom behind the bar in 2002, another new wave of customers followed. Sue began to hire more bartenders and spend less time slinging drinks, all the while watching a whole new business, bar and shopping dynamic take hold around downtown.
The Do’s legendary pool table hosted many league players. The dart boards welcomed throwers for decades. She’s had pinball, Skee Ball and shuffleboard in and out of the joint. At one point, Q’s Que opened up a barbecue spot inside the bar.
Of course, food and Do have always gone hand-in-hand. Whether it was “pickle day” or a potluck gathering, the Do family welcomed other families for decades. Sue even remembers the fish fry events coordinated by her father.
“Dad and I would go to Lake Jacomo, catch some fish and fry them up here,” she said. “That’s one of so many memories I will always love.”
She fondly recalls having a fundraiser for a customer with a medical need and, of course, this customer showing up to the event not knowing it was for his benefit.
“He was bidding on the items, so we just let him bid,” Sue laughs.
And, of course, the day another Lee’s Summit icon, former Lee’s Summit Journal Publisher Ferrell Shuck had his soapbox dedication at the Do Drop Inn. As Sue goes through old photos of Shuck and his family, she remembers him as a fixture at the Do and a legendary pool player.
“That’s my favorite memory, giving him that soapbox,” she says.
After 58 years, the Do Drop Inn will lock the doors for the final time on Sunday, March 9.
“It was a 365-day-a-year job,” she said. “I was here 7 days a week for 10 straight years.
“It’s been tough to tell people. The customers, and me for that matter, we’re all asking, ‘Where are we gonna go?’”
When she locks that door for the final time, Sue said she doesn’t have any immediate grand plans.
“Maybe I will go find a bar and get a drink,” she said with that familiar Sue laugh. “For us, it’s time we turn out the lights at the Do. The party’s over.”
Editor's Note: John Beaudoin is a Lee's Summit resident and award winning writer and former newspaper publisher in the Lee's Summit community. Views and opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily reflect those of Link 2 Lee's Summit, it's employees or any other guest contributors.