Local restaurants team up to help staff at JJ's impacted by deadly fire

It was tragically ironic to see the shell of JJ's so dark and quiet on a Saturday night. But in dozens of other restaurants all over town, people toasted an icon and offered the help they could.

"Box?" asked manager Meghan Murphy, flitting between customers at Blue Grotto in Brookside.

Murphy wasn't just serving customers Saturday night, but an entire restaurant staff with a bond she can understand.

"'You help each other out and become family," she said.

There is also a bond she can't fathom.

"You just can't imagine what they're going through right now."

As a picture of the staff of JJ's sat behind the bar, Blue Grotto was one of more than 100 restaurants donating 10 percent of their Saturday sales to the staff of JJ's. An explosion at the Plaza restaurant  injured several and claimed one life Tuesday.

"I think it just touched me touched everybody," said Rita Svejda.

Word spread fast to diners like Rita in a massive social media campaign. The message? Come dine as a Friend of JJs.

"I said that's a perfect reason to eat out," said Svejda.

"There's actually a pub crawl going on right now," added Murphy.

"This is our dining for JJ's pub crawl," Maggie Fitzgerald proudly declared.

We caught the crawl a few miles away at Coal Vines on the Plaza, where Mayor Sly James and several city council members stopped in on their tour to say thank you. 

Maggie and her friends just wanted to stop feeling so helpless.

"Because we love JJ's," she said. "We love (owner) Jimmy (Frantze), and what else can you do when you're crying but cry in your beer I guess."

If you didn't make it out, you can still send in a donation through Thursday.

Donation Information:

Those wishing to make a donation directly to the JJ's Restaurant Fund may do so by mailing a check or money order by Thursday, Feb. 28, to:

Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association
JJ's Restaurant Fund
4049 Pennsylvania, Suite 204
Kansas City, MO 64111

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