Happy Gillis, Ramen Shop, Johnny Lazia, “Little Italy,” Genessee Royale Bistro, ethnic food, Japanese cuisine
Ramen, you say?
With roots in China but popularized by the Japanese during the Meiji Period (late 1850s to the turn of the century), ramen is entering uncharted territory: Kansas City, Mo. The specialty noodle spot is the second restaurant owned and operated by Kansas Citians Josh and Abbey Jo Eans (the other, of course, the thriving Happy Gills Café in Columbus Park).
The once home and haven to the city’s biggest mafia names – Lazia, Civella – “Little Italy” aka Columbus Park boasts quite a different reputation these days. Transformed into an artsy, studio-heavy neighborhood with adorable and eclectic shops and restaurants, well, a ramen shop will blend nicely with the distinct creative flair of the area.
Happy Gillis, owned by the couple since 2013 (founder Todd Shulte sold it to focus on his West Bottoms bistro, Genessee Royale, an old garage-turned-eatery), embodies the current Columbus Park culture. Simple creative touches, like the use of local ceramics master Paul Mallory’s mugs (made specially for the café). They’ll carry this over to the new spot, where Mallory will handcraft the ramen serving bowls.
Interestingly enough, the Eans are taking another leaf from Shulte – turning the Happy Gillis garage, previously used for storage, into the Ramen Shop. Use what you’ve got, I always say. “Eating shouldn’t be hard, it should be fun and delicious,” the Eans always say.
And this ain’t your Maruchan insta-ramen we’re talking here, folks. Slow simmered Japanese broth called tonkotsu, fresh ingredients and even fresher noodles are what you’ll find at the Ramen Shop — and not to mention Happy Gillis. Minus the ramen.