History buff Kevin Fossland and filmmaker Martin Diggs of Burnt Ends Media snag a table at the original Arthur Bryant’s during a recent lunch rush.
By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA
The Kansas City Star
The longtime JJ’s servers look relieved to sit down, breaking for at least a few minutes from the tidal wave of social media and whirlwind of benefits planned in the aftermath of the restaurant’s fiery explosion.
But when manager Willis Simpson stops by their table they can’t help but perk up, slipping into interview mode for their 90-minute barbecue documentary.
“What’s your documentary called?” Simpson asks.
Diggs hesitates. “Right now we’re calling it ‘The Kansas City Barbecue Documentary.’ We don’t want to commit until we’ve done more interviews, because someone might say something that gives us the name while we’re filming.”
“Someone already said, ‘The white bread is the napkin,’” Fossland adds. “Right now, that’s pretty good, but who knows what we are going to come up with?”
Fossland and Diggs, both 40-somethings, grew up in Kansas City and, like most of us, have until recently taken Kansas City’s barbecue culture for granted.
“We were shocked at how little information there was out there,” Fossland says. “Take the Food Network or the Travel Channel. Almost all of that is about restaurants. There is not much about the whole barbecue culture. It’s constantly going on at sporting events and in backyards and at churches, but no one has told that story. We keep learning stuff every time we turn around.”
Fossland and Diggs are soliciting stories from residents. They also want to dedicate their film to close friend and fellow JJ’s server Megan Cramer, who died in the explosion.
“She is part of the project,” says Diggs, who calls her one of the project’s earliest supporters and his “guardian angel.”