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Crossroads restaurants, businesses ready to welcome back First Fridays

First Fridays is back in Kansas City
Posted at 9:12 AM, May 06, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — First Fridays is a popular Kansas City event that draws thousands of people to the Crossroads Arts District for a night of food, fun and art — and it's finally back in full force.

The event is free and stretches all along different art alleys between Baltimore Avenue and Wyandotte Street from 18th Street to Southwest Boulevard.

The pandemic kept crowds away in recent years, so Crossroads businesses are excited to have the masses back.

"First Fridays for Ollama, it is our highest sales day, it's very important for us. We solely depend on the First Friday," said Cafe Ollama owner Lesley Reyes.

Ollama is owned by the Reyes family and their goal is to bring authentic Mexican flavors to Kansas City. The cafe stays open late on First Fridays due to the volume of sales it generates for their business.

However, Ollama continues to face challenges in getting certain items imported from Mexico and having the right materials to serve their menu. On top of supply chain issues, inflation continues to take a toll.

"Our piloncillo actually comes from Mexico, so when that runs low, it's like who is going Mexico," Reyes explained. "It's a little difficult also the quality of cinnamon, we use a very high-quality cinnamon for our Cafe de Olla, and when that goes, runs out, it also turns into a problem but we always figure it out."

The Crossroads Community Association coordinates First Fridays and held their first First Friday of 2022 in April, but the weather drove down the large number of people they typically see.

The association predicts attendance will pick back up this month and be back to what it was pre-pandemic.

For businesses like Cafe Gratitude, the large crowd means more people in their doors.

"Not a lot of people are like looking for vegan or plant-based foods, so when they're walking around and they see us, it's kind of a surprise," explained Jacklyn Pierce, a server at Cafe Gratitude. "So I would say in that way, it brings new people in here."

Crossroads Community Association told KSHB 41 News the Food Truck Plaza will be back nestled between 19th and 20th streets by Grand Boulevard. However, there will be fewer food trucks compared to previous years because the mobile restaurants are dealing with supply issues, inflation and surging gas prices.