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First Fridays helps West Bottoms businesses bounce back

West Bottoms BBQ
Posted at 8:05 PM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 23:45:28-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After years of perfecting his Texas-style brisket, Justin Easterwood decided to open up a barbecue spot in the Historic West Bottoms.

The day after he signed his lease, the Big 12 Tournament canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Then, the West Bottoms shut down for two months.

“(I) took a couple weeks off, basically tried to decide what we were going to do,” he said.

He stuck it out and Easterwood’s Chef J BBQ opened May 16. Since then, the demand for his brisket has not stopped and now he's hoping for a little more business thanks to First Fridays.

“It’s great,” he said. “First Friday in the (West) Bottoms, it’s really great to be down here.”

Other businesses in the West Bottoms have struggled since they were forced to close.

The West Bottoms “has now become the largest vintage market in the United States,” Vice President of the Historic West Bottoms Entertainment District Amber Arnett-Bequeaith said. “Prior to COVID shutting us down, we really had a great thing going, so these businesses struggle and work hard to come back.”

Dusted Attic is one example.

Deserae Minor opened her store five years ago, but she said this year has been the toughest.

“To go right to what is supposed to be our best months, which is March, April, May, and to be shut down during those is tough,” Minor said. “Just seeing our customers, seeing them walk the streets and be out and about, it’s been great.”

She and Easterwood agree that First Fridays has been helpful bringing foot traffic to the various stores.

The First Fridays event runs throughout the weekend. The district will be accepting donations Saturday for Great Plains SPCA Pet Adoption Center.

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