Thursday, February 28

Fun with White Stuff

For most of the snow days, we were holed up tight in our houses,
drinking with neighbors, not showering, and being pretty useless.
Then, the boredom set in and someone needed cigarettes.
We walked up to 39th Street, hit up World of Spirits
and it all went downhill from there.

These are some of the things we saw, from our windows and out and about.
What did you guys do during your snow days?

Photo Credits: Kristie Svedja » 1, 2, 11 // Tina Magee-Jenks/Backyard Ink » 3, 4, 6, 7, 9 // Linh Trieu » 5, 8, 10, 11

Monday, February 25

Metcalf South

When I first moved to Kansas City in 1991, Metcalf South was a pretty happening mall. My sisters and I spent a lot of time out there goofing off, waiting for our parents. But it's been years since I've been back, and only to Macy's. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't even seen one movie at the gorgeous Glenwood Theater.

A friend chose Metcalf South for our weekly walk since the snow was piled outside in small mountains. We circled the three floors like hamsters trapped in a cage, seeing the same few stores over and over. It was monotonous, and being there was like stepping back in time. Way back before 1991 as I remember it anyway.

The empty stores left shadows of what was once there, from The Gap to Topsy's and Fox Photo. We did have a great time seeing ourselves reflected on the ceiling mirrors and curved reflective columns that distorted our images like funhouse mirrors. 

It was a bit sad to see so many empty storefronts. Most shops were wholesale and not open to the public or service oriented businesses like a cat shelter. Maybe one day, Metcalf South will go by the wayside like Indian Springs Mall and disappear altogether. But for now, you can lace up your tennies, pull up your sweatpants up above your waist, swing those arms, and become a mall walker for just a little longer.

All photos taken with my iPhone – Linh Trieu

Friday, February 22

Fundraising for JJ's

In the hours and days that followed the explosion, JJ's army of supporters pulled together with lightning speed to raise funds for the employees. I knew that the restaurant community was a incestuous, loving group, but this has been amazing and heartwarming to witness. The love, generosity and support flowing forth from everyone who has ever set foot inside JJ's is a testament to how important one restaurant can be for a city.

This information can also be found on JJ's facebook page. I hope you don't mind me sharing it again here. There are a couple of smaller benefits on their page.

Direct Donations 
Donate to the Employee Fund at directly until March 6. They have met and surpassed their initial fundraising goal of $10,000. Currently, numbers show $16,320 raised. Click here to help. Thanks again to Chef Terry Mille for setting this up. After the deadline, the funds raised through Indiegogo will be deposited directly into a fund set up by JJ's through Country Club Bank. See note from JJ's below.

GKCRC One-Night Benefit
The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association has organized a one-night-only benefit with over 70 participating restaurants. Each business will be donating 10% of sales made on Saturday, February 23, 2013. From fast food to high end, independents to corporate favorites, neighborhood bars to tablecloth restaurants, everyone is stepping up. We will be at Westport Cafe & Bar for lunch and Jasper's for dinner tomorrow in support! Where are you guys going? Click HERE for the updated restaurant list. 115 restaurants as of Saturday morning, isn't that incredible?!

Aixois Brasserie
Anton's Taproom
blanc burgers + bottles (Country Club Plaza)
blue bird bistro
Blue Grotto
Café Sebastienne
Café Trio - Trio is doing this all weekend!
Chaz on the Plaza
Classic Cup
Coach’s Bar & Grill (Kansas City)
Coach’s Bar & Grill (Overland Park)
Coal Vines
Duke’s on Grand
EBT Restaurant
Eden Alley
Extra Virgin
Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue (Freight House)
Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue (Country Club Plaza)
Fogo de Chao
Gaslight Grill
Golden Ox
Grand Street Café
Granfalloon Restaurant & Bar
Jasper's Restaurant
Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen (Kansas City)
Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen (Legends Outlets Kansas City)
Kona Grill
La Bodega (Kansas City)
La Bodega (Leawood)
Le Fou Frog
Lew’s Grill & Bar
Maker's Mark Bourbon House & Lounge
McFadden’s Sports Saloon 
Michael Smith
Minsky’s Pizza (5105 Main Street)
Mio Italian Trattoria
Nica’s 320
Oklahoma Joe’s (Kansas City)
Oklahoma Joe’s (Leawood)
Oklahoma Joe’s (Olathe)
Osteria Il Centro
Piropos Restaurant
Pizza 51 (Kansas City)
Pizza 51 West (Fairway)
Pizza Bar
Popeyes Louisiana Chicken (all metro locations)
Providence New American Kitchen
Room 39 (Kansas City)
Room 39 (Leawood)
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Seasons 52
Snow & Co.
SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza (Kansas City)
Starker’s Restaurant
Tannin Wine Bar + Kitchen
Tavern at Mission Farms
Tavern in the Village
Tengo Sed Cantina
The Boot
The Capital Grille
The Jacobson
The Kill Devil Club
The Roasterie Café (Kansas City)
The Roasterie Café (Brookside)
The Roasterie Café (Leawood)
The Well Bar Grill & Rooftop
Trezo Mare
V’s Italiano Ristorante
Waldo Pizza
Webster House
Westport Café & Bar
Ya Ya’s Euro Bistro

Servers from The Foundry and McCoy's are donating a percentage of their tips on Saturday. If you can't make it out to one of the 70 restaurants on Saturday, make sure you get out on Sunday! Details can be found here.

This employee-driven event is going to be at the Uptown Theater on March 5, 2013. Details can be found here. I'm guessing this is going to be a shoulder-to-shoulder event with tons of food, live music in every corner and one of the best silent/live auctions you'll ever see. This is going to be one of biggest staff parties you will ever get to be a part of.

A Note from JJ's
"Jimmy and the entire family of JJ's restaurant are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, support and prayers that have rained over us the past few days. We have also been flooded with calls asking where to donate financially to the cause. We wanted to share with you a few thoughts on that.

First, JJ’s has met with our insurance company and we have determined that we’re able to continue to pay our staff wages while we regroup and make decisions about the future. Second, JJ’s is currently working with our friends at Country Club Bank to set up a fund to collect donations. Country Club Bank has offered to waive all fees relating to this fund. All money received by JJ’s for staff assistance, including any money from the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association fundraiser, will be deposited in this fund. This fund will be governed by a board to see that this money is properly distributed to JJ’s staff and related charitable efforts surrounding the fire.

We’ve heard there are other organizations collecting donations on behalf of JJ’s staff and employees, but we would encourage you to consider the Country Club Bank fund to ensure that 100% of the money goes to the right place. We will provide more details via Facebook soon when the fund is ready. No words can describe the grief we're feeling from this tragedy. Our hearts go out to all those affected and their families. Please continue to keep our staff, gas workers, first responders and others in your thoughts and prayers over the coming weeks. Thank you."

You can see the original facebook post here.

Wednesday, February 20

Our Hearts to JJ's

One face from JJ's - Teri, a long-time bartender in front of the restaurant in April 2011.
Last night's gas explosion and fire at JJ's was one of those crazy instances that had people going, what the hell happened? And very shortly after, what can we do to help? For readers who still need to catch up on the what, check here, here or google it. News coverage was on-going until late last night and details changed regarding who was hurt and missing and who was at fault. JJ's staff checked in through facebook to let people know they were alive. According to twitter and news this morning, one employee is still missing. From what we can gather trying to piece together streams on facebook and twitter, family and friends of Megan Cramer are still desperately searching for her and hoping for the best. Update: according to Fox 4 news, Megan's family has issued a statement confirming her death and request for the family's privacy. Our continued prayers are with her family tonight.

In the midst of this tragedy, the hospitality and service industry has unanimously raised their hands and their voices in support. A friend texted right away asking for my help to plan a benefit. My heart immediately said, of course I want to get involved. My head, and past experience, made me respond, maybe, let me know what you have in mind. From years of organizing fundraisers, here are some notes and observations:

1. Get in touch with the people this affects first. In this case, Jimmy and Dave Frantze and the staff at JJ's. Since this is about them and for them, don't try organizing things without their input. I've seen a lot of self-hype in the process of trying to help others and it cheapens the efforts of all involved.

2. Act fast. There are immediate needs and long-term needs. Both need to be addressed with expediency because life's obligations and responsibilities don't wait, snowball fast and can devastate lives along with livelihoods. Howard Hanna of The Rieger put this on facebook and said it so well, I will share it below:

There have been talks about hiring on JJ's staff as part-timers until the smoke clears literally. Update: The restaurant community is doing not just talking. The following is a list of job postings we have seen shared. We will update this information as often as we can.
  • Michael J Thorne at Nica's 320 has 1 FOH and 1 BOH position available. via Nica's
  • Aaron Confessori at Westport Cafe & Bar/The Boot has a server position available. via Brian Jewell
  • The Farmhouse has room for one or two FOH positions, servers. via The Farmhouse
  • English Renshaw at La Bodega has one line cook position available for 4 shifts per week. via La Bodega
  • Orien B. at Tannin Winebar + Kitchen could pick up a bartender. via Orien
  • Shannon Hawkins Hickey at Lidia's has a spot available on the Lidia's Culinary team. via Lidia's
  • Beau Williams at Manifesto is hiring a server. via Manifesto
  • Patrick Ryan at Port Fonda has positions for 4 full-time cooks and one dishwasher. via Port Fonda
  •  Leigh Huddleston has kitchen and host openings at Anton's Taproom. via Anton's
  • Cheesecake Factory is actively hiring cocktail servers, hosts and line cooks. Call Jackie. via Extra Virgin and Highwood Properties
  • Salty Iguana at 135th Street in Overland Park via Extra Virgin
  • Dave & Busters at The Legends in KCK via Extra Virgin
  • IHOP at The Legends in KCK via Extra Virgin
  • Kona Grill looking for evening line cook, greets and wait staff. Call Darren. via Kristene Thrall and Highwood Properties
  • Louie's Wine Dive will also open up their schedule. via Kristene Thrall
  • Power & Light is hiring for all positions. Open call at McFadden's, next two Mondays from 3-7 pm. via Kathy Denis
  • Chipotle' via Andy Orwig
  • Diego Paulin at Nara says they are hiring. via Nara
  • Providence New American Kitchen hiring for two line cooks, servers and FOH manager. via Brock Schulte
  • NoRTH in Leawood has room for both FOH and BOH. via Justyn Brogan
  • Cascone's has positions available. via Elaina Cascone Riesman
  • Megan Garrelts at bluestem and Rye is looking for people. Contact info in comments below. via Becky de Wit
  • Classic Cup. via Alia Johnson
  • The American has a cook position open. via Debbie Gold
  • Flying Saucer needs servers. via KC Dwyer
  • John Cedric Smith at The Jacobson has openings for BOH, FOH and management. via The Jacobson
  • Barb Rafael says Le Fou Frog is hiring. via Le Fou Frog
  • Gram & Dun has room for a couple of FOH positions. via Bread & Butter Concepts
  • BRGR Kitchen + Bar is looking for servers and a couple of BOH positions. via Bread & Butter Concepts
  • Urban Table needs servers and bussers. via Bread & Butter Concepts
  • Tomfooleries is hiring servers, hosts and a day busser. Call Shawn or Barton. via Highwood Properties
  • The Granfalloon has three server positions available. Contact Tim. via Highwood Properties
  • Remedy Food + Drink is hiring. via Aaron Michaelis
  • P.F. Chang's needs dishwashers and line cooks. Call JR. via Highwood Properties
  • McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant actively hiring servers, hosts and line cooks. Call Cary. via Highwood Properties
  • Ruth's Chris Steakhouse has multiple server assistants and one server. Call Terra. via Highwood Properties
  • Fred P. Ott's has various positions open. Call Joe for details. via Highwood Properties
  • Houston's has positions open. Call Dan between 2-4 to discuss. via Highwood Properties
  • Michael Smith/Extra Virgin looking for a line cook. via Nancy Smith
  • Red Door Grill in Leawood is hiring. via Shannon Kimball
  • Bo Ling's has open positions. Contact via Rebecca
  • Jasper's is hiring for FOH servers and BOH cooks. Contact Via Jasper Mirabile
There is already a JJ's Restaurant Employee Fund set up through Indiegogo. You can find the link and fundraising status here; this fund has been set up by Duane Daugherty and Chef Terry W. Mille but we have no details on how and when those funds will be allocated. If you know someone affected by this tragedy and is in need of help, avoid all the hoops and don't hesitate to write them a check directly.

3. Strike while the iron is hot. A benefit to help JJ's employees needs to happen in one month or less. When the media attention dies down and another news story is in the headlines, you will see just how fickle people can be. If you want to help lead in these efforts, contact Sloane Harper at to volunteer on the planning committee. 

Contact Sloane Harper to help with initial efforts in spearheading a benefit for JJ's.

4. Work together. Events like this often take up to a year to plan. To have a successful event in such a short time will be challenging. Have key people take lead and everyone else, follow quickly and don't muddle the efforts or try to take charge down the road. It's not going to be perfect and won't suit everyone's grand plans, but keep this in mind: there will be many great ideas from many voices so you will need to have laser focus.

5. Iron out the details ASAP.
  • The Basics – Date, venue, and how you want sponsors/volunteers to get involved.
  • Operating Costs – Who will sponsor this until money rolls in?
  • Financial Logistics – Get an accountant and a lawyer on board.
  • Allocating Funds – Which employees will be assisted first? Is this fund for entire staff affected or just physically affected? How do you assess dollar amount each employee receives? Is there additional funding for those who will have long-term health care needs related to the explosion? Who will oversee and administer the funds after all the money is raised?

6. Be cautious! There has been TONS of talk about varying fundraising activities, new facebook pages popping up, etc. Everyone, please be very careful that your message doesn't get diluted by having too many sources. Organize behind the scenes first. Get all your ducks in a row and then share your message. Let Jimmy, Dave and the JJ's family find their bearings first and then follow their lead. When people give you money, you have their TRUST. Do not lose that trust by acting rashly.

We have seen two facebook pages thus far: Friends of JJ's KC and KC Servers for JJ's Relief Fund. The goals are the same but people involved and agendas may differ. It's hard to tell at this point.

7. Long Term. Can these efforts and funds be partially allocated to assist future tragedies in the restaurant community? What about creating an employee fund where people can apply for assistance? 

These are just some of the things that come to me immediately and is only my personal opinion. What are some other things the planning committee should be thinking about? Feel free to leave a comment and share your own advice and experiences. We continue to think of and pray for the entire JJ's family. Along with the rest of the Kansas City restaurant community, we're here to help in any way we can and we are so sorry for the loss of your beloved restaurant.