Up To Date's Steve Kraske talked Wednesday morning with David Frantze, co-owner of JJ's restaurant. A gas explosion Tuesday evening caused a fire that destroyed the restaurant, killing at least one person and injuring at least 14 others.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
David Frantze: Steve, it’s been a pretty rough time for the entire JJ’s family.
DF: We, just like you, are listening. My brother Jimmy, who operates the restaurant, is on site, he’s been there since early this morning. He was out of town yesterday, and traveled back, began traveling back from Oklahoma when the explosion occurred.
DF: I am trying function normally and deal with a lot of folks that are extending well wishes and expressions of hope and support. We’ve seen a lot of that, my brother Jimmy is on site and out there trying to be on top of latest info of what’s going on.
DF: I actually walked in the door of my house and was talking on the phone, and I came back about three minutes later and there was a news broadcast, and it said JJ’s restaurant explosion, and I promptly headed back down to check on the site.
DF: Until we got there, we honestly didn’t know how serious it was. We heard explosion, but didn’t know exactly how serious it was, and when I arrived and parked I parked about four blocks from the restaurant, got out of my car to walk. We could clearly smell the gas smell four blocks away in the neighborhood.
DF: We got to the police checkpoint at 48th and Jarboe, I was trying to explain to the officer who I was, that my brother and I owned the building and the restaurant. And it just so happened that that time, the city manager, who I knew from my professional life...I explained to him, I said, I wasn’t sure if he knew, everyone knew (my brother) Jimmy Frank, didn’t know if he knew my involvement – he immediately said come on down to the command center and let’s see what’s going on.
DF: We know exactly what I just heard on your broadcast – found a body but haven’t identified the person.
DF: It’s not strange to say, but it’s hard to say, in a restaurant, you don’t know who’s in the building at any given time. Its’ a popular place, (there was a) large group there for happy hour – we don’t know who it is. Don’t know if the person was an employee or patron.
DF: We’re just struck. We’re in shock.
For more on JJ's legacy, the Kansas City Star has a piece by Steve Paul: A time of mourning for JJ's and its many guises.
Find more coverage of the Plaza fire from KCUR here.