At Port Fonda, brunch with a slice of the city

03/06/2013 7:02 PM

05/16/2014 9:22 PM

It was one of those hard mornings after a crazy gig. JT Quick was running on less than two hours of sleep. But then he walked into Port Fonda, and the whole scene was, in his words, amazing.

He sat at the bar, waiting for friends. When you are by yourself, you can feel awkward. He didn’t. The woman next to him struck up a conversation about ’90s hip-hop. Just like that, he made a new friend. And the DJs were spectacular.

“They were playing one of my favorite songs, ‘Off the Books,’ by the Beatnuts and Big Pun,” he says. “Miles Bonny was playing along on his horn. I ran into people from back in the days of Blonde and Hip-Hop and Hotwings. To see people from all over the city and hear such good music, I felt good. Where else can you go for Sunday brunch, not order a crumb of food and have a good time?

“I just started calling people. I posted it online. I was doing everything I could to tell people to come out and support. It’s our duty to tell people when we find these kinds of places.”

When he’s not on air at KPRS Hot 103 Jamz or keeping the parties jumping at places like Hotel Nightclub and Empire Room, he considers Port Fonda in Westport on Pennsylvania among the coolest places to kick it. He has been going since last summer. He had heard the hype surrounding Port Fonda and its food truck beginnings. He knew about the delicious dinner and packed Friday nights. But it was brunch that caught his attention.

Last August, when fellow DJs Miles Bonny and Beatbroker were spinning, he decided to check it out. There haven’t been DJs playing during weekend brunch for some time, but JT still enjoys the music. The playlist includes everything from Sam Cooke and Johnny Cash to Michael Jackson and Biggie Smalls. You can hear all of that and enjoy a Bloody Maria and huevos rancheros.

But on this Sunday, JT opted for coffee and the Omelette Special: Green Dirt Farms’ bossa cheese, chorizo verde, poblano rajas and fried fingerling potatoes. Me? You’re fighting a losing battle trying to get me to order anything other than the Donas de Requeson at brunch. How can I pass up ricotta doughnuts sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, maple-mezcal tres leches and fried chicken strips?

JT says Port Fonda is more than a restaurant. It’s a place he takes newcomers to introduce them to Kansas City. Whether we’re talking about the KC hats by Baldwin Denim worn by the staff, local food or the mishmash crowd, it’s a mirror of some of our city’s finer qualities, like hometown pride and diversity.

And for him, Sunday brunch is perfect for getting a new start on the week. For some people, Sunday is a hangover holiday. They are still wearing last night’s clothes and hoping the hair of the dog will see them through. Others are ready for that post-church meal. And there are people who are just out to enjoy themselves. JT says even when they are perfect strangers sitting at separate tables, it feels like one big community space.

As a DJ, he prides himself on that kind of multiplicity. At his gigs around town he plays hip-hop, pop, dub step, moombahton and more. It’s hard getting the hip-hop heads to come over to the dub step side and vice versa. But slowly, the crowds are starting to merge. As he plays a little bit of everything, people are starting to dance outside of their self-imposed lines.

We look around Port Fonda, where there are 20-somethings at one table and a grandmother and her family at another, while a hockey game is on the flat screen and Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” plays — it’s clear change is coming.

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