Dining » Fat Mouth

Bottoms Feeders

Two caterers stake out new territory in the Hobbs Building in the West Bottoms.

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Now that Don and Joyce Omer have given the long-decrepit Rieger Hotel building on Main Street a dazzling new life with luxury apartments upstairs and the attractive restaurant 1924 Main downstairs (see review, page 39), will other downtown developers lure culinary businesses into uncharted territory?

Yes, in the case of Adam Jones, the distinctively bearded co-owner (with Jeff Krum) of the 100-year-old Hobbs Building in the West Bottoms. Jones has convinced Kathleen and Andy Jacot, owners of the Johnson County-based catering company Feasts of Fancy, to flee the suburbs and move their pots and pans to an industrial neighborhood that at first glance might seem an unlikely setting for a wedding reception or a bar mitzvah.

"But that's exactly why we're so excited by this," says Kathleen Jacot, surveying the scuffed wooden floor on the ground level of the former manufacturing facility -- past tenants included a Beechnut Gum plant -- that over the past seven years has had a checkered career as an art gallery and performance space. "There won't be another space like it in the city."

Jones says the art shows won't end, but starting next April, the 3,500-square-foot first floor will primarily be a multiuse ballroom and special-events location. "There are people who want a more cool, more urban, less traditional location for parties, receptions and meetings," Jones says.

Soon, construction will begin on a new kitchen at the back of the building and new bathrooms (in the old steel vaults). Chef Andy Jacot expects to start cooking by January. Jones has already started clearing out the junk-strewn space directly behind the building to start working on a 2,000-square-foot outdoor courtyard, which will be paved in 19th-century cobblestones he purchased and hauled off last summer from a street in Wyandotte County.

Jones says he had been planning to build a catering kitchen in the building anyway, hoping to generate more income from the venue. But after his Hobbs Building tenant Eric Case, of The Herb Company, introduced him to the Jacots (who ran the American Restaurant's catering operation for a decade), he decided the couple had "the right enthusiasm, credentials and energy" to take over the space completely.

More than forty artists rent studio space in the upper six floors, which might provide an interesting synergy for the new catering hall. Instead of painting a bouquet, perhaps one of the artists could sneak into a wedding reception ... and catch one.

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