KANSAS CITY, Mo. – JJ’s Restaurant turns 28 and a half years old this summer, and while the restaurant is no longer standing on the plaza, its owner says there is still reason to celebrate.
"It's kind of a thank you to Kansas City. This community has been so supportive to my staff, and just in general. We're a family, so this is a celebration. No tears. No tears," said JJ's owner Jimmy Frantze.
But, he said there is one rule for anyone who comes out to this year's block party and that’s don't ask if, when or where he's going to rebuild. He also doesn't want to talk about the gas explosion in February that sent his beloved eatery up in flames.
Frantze 's best friend and JJ's regular, Dean Manion, arrived to the party with a smile on his face, but he said seeing remains of the damage up close again does bring back some pain.
"There's a lot of mixed emotions. It was my home away from home and of course when the explosion happened, it just ripped my heart out," he said.
However, Manion said, pain from the past bring inspiration for the future.
"It kind of gives me a little hope that we'll see JJ's open again and like Jimmy says if not in this location, then an equally nice location," said Manion.
Frantze admitted he doesn't know what's going to happen, but for now he's thankful for his Kansas City family – people he said have always been there, and he knows will continue to be, no matter what.
"Keep the faith. Just keep looking to see what might happen. Just don’t ask!" he laughed.
Proceeds from the block party benefit the Leukemia Foundation and also the former employees of JJ's.
On Sunday, the JJ's family reunited. They remembered the loved one they lost and celebrated the community.
FOX 4 photojournalist Matt Hensley spoke with one JJ's employee who's determined to keep the family together.