‘Friends of JJ’s’ offer jobs, host benefit

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Less than 24 hours after the explosion leveled JJ's restaurant, the Kansas City community is stepping up to the help those affected by the blast. Employees not only lost a friend but also their job. Other service, arts and music industry workers are making sure that isn't for long.

They wait tables, sling drinks, cook, and take care of customers. Kansas City's service industry community is a small and tight knit group.

"I'm in the restaurant more than I am at home. I'm with these people more than I am with my own family," said Jayson Jamgochian, the kitchen manager at Grinders.

Jim Ligon, a bartender at JJ's for the past 5 years, knows how well of a family JJ's was.

"It starts with the staff and people who have worked there forever. They are not coworkers, they are family," Ligon said.

Now that family and community is stepping up.

"We have had an amazing outpouring of support and people that want to help," said Sondra Freeman who is planning a benefit to help all JJ's employees.

Just hours after the restaurant explosion, a "Friends of JJ's KC" Facebook page was set up. People wanting to help, reach out, connect with their fellow industry family and friends.

"My focus today has been trying to wrangle everything in and trying to keep a common focus on all the efforts being made right now trying to help us out," said Ligon.

By Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 restaurants and bars posted messages about job's available to any JJ's employees now needing work.

One of those, Grinders offering 10 positions.

"They live day to day a lot of the servers. Paycheck to paycheck," said Lisa Schwemin, Grinders assistant General Manager.

"A lot of these people need to work tomorrow or today for that matter and it may be weeks and weeks and months and months until they find a job," said Jamgochian.

And Ligon, with the help of Sondra Freeman, and others, are organizing a benefit, the proceeds going to the injured workers and those now out of a job.

"I can do this so I need do. I want to," said Freeman.

"The focus is to be able to help our family at JJ's," Ligon said.

The benefit is still in the early stages of planning. It's going to be at the Uptown Theater on March 5.

For updated information on the benefit check, the "Friends of JJs KC Facebook page here.


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