Josh Eans is leaving The American Restaurant to take over a Columbus Park venue.
His last day at the American is Saturday. Then Eans and his wife, Abbey-Jo Eans, will take over the Happy Gillis Cafe & Hangout 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 in Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale, Arizona, with plans of having their own restaurant one day.
After graduating, they went to work in food service at a five-star resort, The Lodge at Sea Island, St. Simons Island in Georgia. A year later Josh joined a five-star restaurant called Seeger's in Atlanta.
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 Bistro on Martini Corner.
He later helped the Drop owners open Blanc Burgers + Bottles in Westport, creating a menu of specialty burgers, hand-cut fries, and house-made condiments. He also became a partner in the business.
He kept his shares in Blanc but left management two years ago to become sous chef at the American.
But the American position makes for late nights and weekends and with three young children — Elliot, 7 1/2, Henry, 3 in January, and Caroline, 9 months in a couple of weeks — he needed to make some changes.
“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.”