Growing up in Shreveport, La., Chris Jones was surrounded by rich culinary offerings.
“It is incredible, the flavors. And once I learned how to make an omelet, it was on. I could make anything I wanted to — chicken fried steaks, lasagna, pizzas, gumbo, pies,” he said. “We had vegetarian Saturdays and our family had Thanksgiving feasts for 50 to 60 people, some I wouldn’t see until the next year. And we’d have 30 or 40 people over from church.”
When he turned 18, he decided to move to a place where he knew no one, a place where he could be independent, a grownup.
He pulled out a map and picked the middle of the country — Kansas City. Within a month of moving here, he landed a job with Anderson Restaurant Group’s Hereford House and stayed with the company for a dozen years, helping to open a Lawrence Hereford House and Pierpont’s at Union Station. He even had a stint running its catering operation.
He later helped a local Golden Corral franchise open locations in the Northland and St. Joseph.
He always planned to have his own restaurant selling Cajun cuisine. A food truck would generate funds for a later brick-and-mortar restaurant.
But he ran into delays trying to open one of the region’s first solar-powered food trucks, including shipping a 350-pound lithium battery from California and getting the necessary health permits, with inspectors wanting him to have a back-up generator.
Because of the delays, the food truck won’t open until later this month, but the restaurant opened in January.
Jones took a spot at 4702 N.E. Vivion Road for Mudbug Cajun Po’Boys. It serves five Po’Boys: smoked chicken and andouille served with balsamic caramelized vegetables for $8; classic roast beef served over garlic/lemon seasoned fries and topped with pan drippings for $8.50; Southern-fried basa served over a truffled broccoli slaw and smoked onion aioli for $9; and the KC Po’Boy, which has slow-smoked pulled pork and is served over a lemon pepper slaw and topped with fried onions and barbecue sauce for $8. The shrimp po’boy was a special but was added to the menu and is now the most popular item.
Mudbug also offers Louisiana-style gumbo and a children’s menu with grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken fingers.
On Thursday afternoons, Mudbug gets a fresh fish shipment from the Gulf. Jones places his fish orders based on the best market price and availability so he can set his Friday fish specials at $10 to $13. He posts the menu on the restaurant’s Facebook page by Thursday evenings and the specials can quickly sell out on Fridays.
On June 16 it was blackened amberjack and shrimp served over lemon pepper slaw and topped with truffled pepper and andouille relish, finished with a creamy horseradish aioli.
“We can’t hold onto a soft-shell crab. It sells out in about two hours,” he said. “But it’s an opportunity to educate my young staff and our guests. We’ve had stingray, mako shark, alligator, amberjack, red snapper, red drum.”
When Jones moved to Kansas City from balmy Shreveport, it was December.
“It was so cold I thought I was going to die. But I married a good woman who taught me how to drive in the snow,” he said of wife, Traci O’Connor. “She has a full-time job so it’s myself and me working for us at Mudbug. She is working so hard to pay the bills, but the day will come when I will make enough that she can retire and work beside me in the restaurant.
A new Gordmans opened in the redeveloped Liberty Commons in early September.
Now, after the chain filed for bankruptcy, the store is dark. But Equip-bid.com is auctioning off the assets and fixtures until 7:30 p.m. June 27. Items include safes, security cameras, fire extinguishers, clothing racks and gondola shelving, file cabinets and a desk, rolling office chair and five shopping carts (starting bid $10 each, up to $12.50 as of Friday afternoon), and a Mood audio system.
“All the items are in like new condition. In fact, this store has some of the nicest store fixtures we have ever sold,” said Andy O’Hanlon, president and chief executive officer of Equip-Bid.com.
Liberty Commons is in final negotiations for a tenant for the space.