The owners of Happy Gillis and Columbus Park Ramen Shop are bidding adiós to Kansas City.
With dual culinary careers spanning 16 years in Kansas City working as chefs, restaurant owners and consultants in the local food scene, Abbey-Jo and Josh Eans – along with their three children, Elliot, Henry and Caroline – have announced their plans to move to Valencia, Spain, at the end of April.
Over the course of the last two years, like many others in the restaurant industry, the couple realized there was more to life than trying to both keep their businesses alive and homeschool their kids during a pandemic. So, they decided to put their own “great resignation” plan in motion.
“We realized we were always working way more than we were at home with the kids and each other, and we also saw how easily everything we had been working so hard for could be taken away,” Josh says. “We realized that maybe it was time to take our family on a new adventure in a new place.”
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They thought about running a number of culinary businesses before eventually deciding just to rent an apartment in Valencia within walking distance of their children's future school, which is also close to a number of shops and restaurants. As for everything else? They'll figure it out as they go.
“We have been working seriously on this relocation plan for over a year, which has included multiple trips to Spain to figure out where we wanted to be, securing visas for the entire family, selling our family home and two cars and finding good homes for our two pet cats,” Abbey-Jo says. “We have saved enough money to not have to work the first year, so we have time to figure out what comes next for us.”
They leave behind the their two restaurants: Happy Gillis, their brunch-lunch spot, and the crowd-funded Columbus Park Ramen Shop, which has not reopened since the beginning of the pandemic. The restaurants will continue to be managed by their longtime general manager, Jeffery L. Gatton, who has been working for the couple for seven years. Although there are currently no plans to reopen the ramen shop, Happy Gillis will continue to keep guests happy with sous chef Christopher Davis in the kitchen, serving up its signature biscuits and sausage gravy, kale Caesar salad and Gillis “Cuban” sandwich.
“Jeffery is the perfect fit for this leadership role, and Chris will be heading up the culinary side of Happy Gillis,” the couple said in their Facebook announcement. “We are excited to offer them a place to grow and continue the legacy of Happy Gillis. We will be involved virtually during this process. We know Happy Gillis will be in great hands.”
Josh and Abbey-Jo purchased Happy Gillis Café + Hangout in 2013 from chef Todd Schulte and opened Columbus Park Ramen Shop next door in 2015. By the end of 2017, Josh had launched a restaurant consulting company, What a Treat, and Abbey-Jo had taken over full culinary direction and operation of Happy Gillis, overseeing a complete refresh of the restaurant.
In their announcement, the couple expressed their excitement for what lies ahead for their family and gratitude to their loyal customers.
“We feel like this new chapter is a chance to lean into each other as a family, choose each other first and embrace a whole new adventure together,” they said. “We are excited for our kids to experience a new part of the world, while learning a new language and culture.”
Those wanting to bid farewell to the culinary couple and their kids are welcome to join them at Alma Mader Brewing on Mon., April 18, where they are hosting an open house from 5 to 9pm to share one last beer before departing on Wed., April 20.
Happy Gillis, 549 Gillis St., Columbus Park, Kansas City, Missouri, 816.471.3663, happygillis.com