Josh Eans is leaving his position as sous chef at The American Restaurant to take over ownership of a venue in the Columbus Park area.
His last day at the American is Saturday. Then Eans and his wife, Abbey-Jo Eans, will take over Happy Gillis Cafe & Hangout at 549 Gillis as owners/operators starting Dec. 16.
“Happy Gillis has always been our favorite spot on Sunday morning to get breakfast,” he said. “It's one of the few places we consistently recommend.”
Shortly after they were married in late 2002, the couple enrolled at Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Scottsdale, Ariz., with plans to open their own restaurant one day. After graduating, they went to work in food service at a five-star resort in St. Simons Island in Georgia. A year later Josh joined a five-star restaurant in Atlanta.
But when their son Elliot was born, they moved back to Kansas City to be closer to their families.
Josh joined the former 40 Sardines restaurant in Overland Park in 2006. He also created a menu and helped open The Drop Bar & Bistro on Martini Corner. Then he helped the Drop owners create another menu for another new concept, Blanc Burgers + Bottles in Westport.
He left Blanc management two years ago to become sous chef at the American. However, he still kept a minority interest in Blanc.
Now with three young children — Elliot, 7 1/2, Henry, 3 in January, and Caroline, 9 months in a couple of weeks — Eans needed to make some career changes, something that wouldn’t keep him at work on nights and weekends.
“If we own a breakfast and lunch place we can still be in the industry and do what we do and at five o'clock we can be a family,” Eans said.
The couple plan to keep the Happy Gillis name. Abbey-Jo will do all of the breads in-house — scones, English muffins. Josh also plans to occasionally offer dinners with beer pairings, which he has been doing at venues around town.
“Happy Gillis is well-loved and has a good reputation,” he said. “We'll make a few little changes here and there on the decor. And obviously we will change the food — but slowly— to put our stamp on it. Very seasonal and fresh and interesting.”
Todd Schulte and his wife, Tracy Zinn, opened Happy Gillis in 2008. Two years later they opened Genessee Royale Bistro in the West Bottoms. In 2012, they became a partner in Uncommon Stock, a gourmet soup take-out next to Happy Gillis.
“We’ve loved Happy Gillis, it’s been fabulous,” Schulte said. “It’s afforded us incredible opportunities and we are looking forward to other opportunities in the future.”