KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the pandemic approaching its one-year mark in Kansas City, one beloved restaurant is still going strong at its River Market location.
Le Fou Frog brings French cuisine to the community with a resilient spirit behind their dishes.
Barbara Rafael, co-owner of Le Fou Frog, is a lifer.
"I grew up here and moved to New York and met [my husband], brought him back, he fell in love with Kansas City," she said.
Her husband, Mano Rafael, is from Marseille, France, but loves his adopted home.
"My little brother said, Kansas City? It's in the middle of nowhere. When I get here, I say no, it's in the middle of everywhere," he said.
That's certainly true for Le Fou Frog, which thrives in the heart of Kansas City.
"I think it makes you feel like you have been transported out of Kansas City," Barbara said.
She and Mano explained where the name of the restaurant came from.
"Because I'm French, I'm a little bit crazy, so that's what she said… Fou means crazy," Mano said.
"Back in Canada, there was a fort, and the password — it was a French fort — and the password to get into the fort was the French word for frog, which no English speaker can say very well so they would bust the spies," Barbara said.
French wine, French food, French music: it’s a neighborhood spot, for all neighbors.
"Some nights are boisterous and loud and a party, and some nights are quiet and romantic," Barbara said.
But the past year brought a difficult change in atmosphere.
"It was extremely tough. Both of us are immune-compromised, and we love our staff and we were just so paralyzed with fear," Barbara said.
She and the staff made a few cosmetic changes to the dining room with glass panes and curtains to separate tables. They also built out an outdoor patio that has kept their doors open.
Their customers rallied to support them.
"If they don't like to come and dine with us, they'll do takeout food, they'll buy gift certificates. We have a beautiful community," Barbara said.
"They’re very nice, they’re very sweet," Mano said.
The couple and their restaurant is treasured by the community. That love is mutual.
"We just love Kansas City. We love the arts in Kansas City. We love our restaurants and bars and places to go hear live music and, I mean, Kansas City is awesome. We couldn't ask to be in a better city," Barbara said. "We are so lucky that we're still standing and that we're still thriving, and we don't take it for granted."
We've created a Facebook group, We're Open Kansas City, where members of the community can post businesses serving their community.