KANSAS CITY, Missouri — An upscale Kansas City restaurant leveled by a gas explosion that killed one worker and injured several others will reopen next week less than a block from its original location.
Brothers Jimmy and David Frantze, owners of JJ's restaurant, have spent nearly a year recreating the original restaurant in a 5,000-square-foot lobby space of a new 10-story building. The space, which is opening Wednesday near the upscale Country Club Plaza shopping and entertainment district, also will have a 1,600-square-foot patio, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/10IEu7b) reported.
The business has been closed since Feb. 19, 2013, when the explosion caused by a natural gas leak killed server Megan Cramer, destroyed the restaurant and damaged two neighboring buildings.
The blast occurred after a crew for Heartland Midwest, an Olathe, Kansas-based cable company subcontractor, breached a natural gas supply line with an underground borer. Fumes from that leak filled the building and were ignited, possibly by a pilot light, according to a Kansas City Fire Department investigation.
Although it has been 20 months since the blast, more than 90 percent of JJ's 35 former employees are returning. Besides the staff, restaurant-goers will recognize other familiar elements.
The bar and dining room are still separate, and new paintings by local artist Mike Savage will be focal points throughout the space, just as they were at the original restaurant.
The dinner menu — featuring upscale Italian and Napa-inspired contemporary cuisine — will be the same. Also, much of the restaurant's award-winning wine holdings were stored off-site, so some of its prized older vintages will be available.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com
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