Party comes 6 months after JJ's Restaurant explosion - KCTV5

Party comes 6 months after JJ's Restaurant explosion

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Former employees and customers of the Kansas City restaurant destroyed six months ago in a deadly blast will gather this weekend at the eatery's old site.

Sunday's party near the County Club Plaza entertainment area is expected to draw more than 1,000 people, The Kansas City Star reported. In recent years, the restaurant has celebrated its anniversary with a party that typically draws 400 to 500 people throughout the afternoon.

"We want to have some fun and celebrate the fact that we all enjoyed JJ's so much," said Jimmy Frantze, who owns JJ's with his brother, David Frantze.

JJ's was leveled Feb. 19 in a blast that happened after a crew for an Olathe, Kan.-based cable company subcontractor breached a natural gas supply line with an underground borer. One restaurant worker died, and at least 14 people were injured.

Teri Lemos, former daytime bartender at JJ's, pet sits for some of her former customers through her new business, Teri the Doggie Nanny.

"We're all one big family — customers and employees," Lemos said. "Other places the customers go, they say, 'It's just not JJ's.' The customers made me feel good, and I made them feel good."

At the celebration, former employees' bands will play and former customers will barbecue.

The brothers are getting bids to rebuild the restaurant on the site. They'd like to put in a new rooftop deck and a terra cotta facade using some of the salvaged pieces from the original restaurant.

But the reconstruction would be costly, so they're also exploring moving to another nearby location.

"I get so many questions about what we are going to do," Jimmy Frantze said. "I'm going to put on a button that says 'Don't ask.' I want to get back into the restaurant business. I'm just now starting to feel half normal."

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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