Local Flavor: KJ’s Grill
Inever wear this jacket,” chef Eli Tapia said and laughed in his pristine, white chef ’s jacket. “It’s really hot back there.” Just six months in, Eli Tapia, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Dallas, and the new owner, Cindy Kellogg, have been working tirelessly to put their stamp on the Hot Springs neighborhood bar and grill. Their ingredients? Fresh food and laughter. Cindy Kellogg, who is also the owner of Luna Bella, and her husband, Dick Kellogg, decided to make an offer and acquired the restaurant in January of this year after falling in love with the food and atmosphere.
Fresher ingredients, a new wine menu and homemade dressings and desserts are just a few of the additions that have helped to improve the already welcoming and familiar environment of KJ’s.
“The soups are made fresh each day,” Kellogg said. “We are
bringing in a lot of fresh seafood as well.”
Comfy country food with a twist of sophistication is their goal with new original menu items including Eli’s personal favorite, ahi tuna — rare-to-medium-rare tuna lightly seared with Cajun seasoning and served with fresh salad or vegetables.
“We’re known for our prime rib, but when we serve a special of ahi tuna they just come through the door in droves.” Cindy Kellogg said. “We’re adding it to the regular menu.”
Cindy and Eli hope that the food draws in the customers and their friendliness keeps them coming back.
“I even babysat last night,” Cindy beamed as she described holding a young family’s 10-month-old girl while they ate dinner. Although Cindy added that she did not want to offer babysitting services, Cindy and her staff enjoy seeing families in KJ’s.
“We just like people,” Cindy said. “I think that’s what people look for when they come in.”
In August, KJ’s will have an open house announcing who they are to the city and in the meantime Eli will build Hot Springs’ trust with new and innovative recipes.
“We want it to be that comfort place,” Cindy said. “As our sign says, ‘Good Food, Good Friends.’”