"Let me tell you- you see Vegas today? Paris? They were nothing compared to what it was right here. We were wide open and swinging. It wasn’t just a livable city. It was a swinging city.
And all the musicians all over the country heard about what was going on here, and they all drifted in here, all the musicians, to challenge our musicians. And when they got here and heard the people we had here, they set their horns down. Because we had the greatest.”
- MILTON MORRIS, (1911-1983)
Owned and operated the original Hey Hay Club at 4th and Cherry, right here in Kansas City.
The original Hey Hay Club was located in downtown Kansas City at 4th and Cherry. It only lasted for a few years, 1931 - 1938, but in that time it played host to jazz musicians the likes of Count Basie, Lester Young, and countless others. True to its name, patrons sat on real hay bales (which were later used to feed livestock) and the stages were made of old hay wagons.
The Hey Hay Club was owned and operated by Milton Morris, a well-known entrepreneur and saloon owner throughout the 1930’s. Milton went on to own several other taverns such as The Novelty Club and Milton’s Tap Room, as referenced in Pee Wee Hunt’s recording, “Meet Me Tonight At Milton's.”
In 1996, filmmaker Robert Altman memorialized the Hey Hay Club in his film, Kansas City. He changed the spelling of the name slightly for his fictionalized version, and our sign at the entrance is the movie prop used in the film. “The Hey! Hey! Club" is our tribute to Kansas City's rebellious past, weaving another vital element of iconic KC history into the J. Rieger & Co. story.