EJ’s Urban Eatery set to open in August

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With 20 years of culinary experience in a variety of genres, well-known Executive Chef John C. Smith has blended his tastes and experience into his own restaurant bringing a unique creation to Kansas City’s historic West Bottoms.

Scheduled to open in August, EJ’s Urban Eatery is categorized as a “Meat and Three” but with a modern, refined twist. A southern culinary tradition, Meat and Three restaurant concepts are well-known in The South where diners choose one meat entrée and three side dishes from a daily selection usually written on a blackboard showcasing the down-home, comfort-food favorites.

“All throughout the American South, old-school Meat and Three restaurants offer affordable, customizable meals. Now, we are bringing that same idea to Kansas City but with a serious upgrade,” said Smith.

EJ’s – which is named for both of its owner’s first names: Erik J. Gaucher and John C. Smith, is proud to introduce a new restaurant concept to Kansas City. When Chef Smith created the idea for the restaurant concept and began looking for a business partner, he met Gaucher, a leader in wealth management in Kansas City. Gaucher helped finalize the restaurant’s business plan and then jumped at the chance to become a business partner.

“I’ve always been in Corporate America but thought about diversification with the right opportunity. When this came along and I heard his concept, already knowing John and what a great chef he is, I knew that this was the exact opportunity I’d been waiting for,” said Gaucher.

Located in a 100-year old building at 1414 Ninth Street on the north end of Kansas City’s historic West Bottoms, the restaurant owners have reworked and remodeled the entire restaurant. From updating the exterior to remodeling the kitchen, bar and dining space of the former café, they have utilized local materials to give the restaurant a fresh urban, yet southern feel that is fitting for its West Bottoms home.

“Just as the West Bottoms are a blend of industrial workers, antique shoppers and people from nearby downtown, this restaurant is a confluence of flavors and tastes,” said Smith.

Across the country, chefs are bringing this old-school southern dining concept to cities (many full of diners who had never heard of it before) featuring the mix-and-match meal concept of a Meat and Three. Although a traditional Meat and Three is set up as a cafeteria-style luncheonette, EJ’s Urban Eatery will be arranged so that guests enter and walk to a host counter, view the menu on a chalkboard reflecting the daily selection, and place their order which is then served to them at the table.

Some of the Chef Smith’s favorites will include:


  • Shrimp and Grits - Sweet gulf shrimp, local grits, red-eye gravy and caramelized onions with hand-cut bacon

  • Fried Chicken Sandwich - Boneless fried chicken thighs, fried egg, jalapeno hot sauce, English muffin and pepper relish

MEATS: (select one)

  • Espresso-rubbed smoked brisket with Alabama white barbecue sauce

  • Roasted rainbow trout with brown butter and almonds

SIDES: (select up to three)

  • Braised local greens with pork, onions and jalapeño

  • Roasted Brussel sprouts with green apples and honey

  • Lake Charles dirty rice

  • Summer succotash

“We know the first Meat and Three luncheonettes were created because locals were looking for a taste of home during the midday. I took this same idea with the menu, but with a more modern twist that will appeal to a variety of tastes,” Chef Smith said.

A destination for swanky southern-style cooking, EJ’s is designed as a friendly, service-oriented format with a full-service bar. The drink menu will feature specialty cocktails all crafted using KC-made spirits, local beers, wine, hand-crafted sodas, fresh limeades and lemonades, as well as specialty teas.

EJ’s Urban Eatery will offer breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., dinner service Friday and Saturday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday brunch 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Restaurant hours will expand after opening to include Happy Hour during the week and a Sunday Brunch. With a seating capacity of 128 the restaurant at 1414 Ninth Street, Kansas City, Mo., will be available for special events and catering. For more information please visit or call 816-491-8262.

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 EJ’s Urban Eatery is a classic “Meat and Three” but with a modern, refined twist. The southern
culinary tradition is well-known in The South but new to many in the Kansas City area.

“All throughout the American South, old-school Meat-and-Three restaurants offer affordable,
customizable meals. Now, we are bringing that same idea to Kansas City but with a local twist."


—EJ's Chef John C. Smith            

EJ's Urban Eatery in Kansas City's West Bottoms. The Original Meat-and-three.