Archive for Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Moni’s seeks to be more than restaurant

Jon and Monica Cook have re-opened Moni’s Seafood and Barbecue downtown after approximately a month hiatus. The couple sees the restaurant as a community gathering place and will have a number of fundraising nights in the coming months for school groups.

Jon and Monica Cook have re-opened Moni’s Seafood and Barbecue downtown after approximately a month hiatus. The couple sees the restaurant as a community gathering place and will have a number of fundraising nights in the coming months for school groups.

August 22, 2012

It’s not by chance Moni’s chose last Friday for its grand reopening after closing its doors for about a month.

The reopening coincided with the return of Baker University students to Baldwin City, and the students and the university play an important role in the downtown restaurant’s operation and success.

The husband and wife team of Monica and Jon Cook opened the restaurant at 711 High St. early this year after extensively redecorating the old Hickory Creek Barbecue. The work included installation of a wall to separate the dining area from the bar.

The Cooks see their restaurant, which is open from 2:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, as a venue for community, school and university events, as well as a setting for private parties and gatherings.

Ties with the university are important, Jon said. Among its staff members are university students, including the wait staff manager. Jon said one of the gratifying things about having the business in Baldwin City was the chance to employ students with odd schedules.

“It’s nice to be able to offer jobs, especially with jobs being so hard to find,” he said.

In a further strengthening of its ties with the university, Moni’s will host Baker University football coach Mike Grossner’s weekly radio show starting next week, Jon said. That builds on fundraisers the restaurant has had for university teams at which it gives them a percentage of its food profits for the night. Moni’s has made the same arrangement for Baldwin High School teams and organizations, and a full fall and winter schedule of Saturday fundraising days has been developed, Jon said.

“We’re very immersed in the community, the university and high school,” he said. “It’s easier for the groups to get a percentage of our sales than to have long-term candy sales or something.”

Moni’s also showcases Baker talent as part of its scheduled Friday and Saturday night entertainment, which includes acts from Lawrence and the Kansas City metropolitan area. Among the Baker groups to perform is the improvisational group Loud Noises, Jon said.

Jon said the Cooks were investors in restaurants and decided to open in Baldwin City because Monica didn’t think she or others should have to travel to Kansas City for a quality seafood or steak dinner. After adding a kitchen to the establishment, they opened with calamari, shrimp, crab cakes and other seafood items, chicken and steaks. They also kept barbecue on the menu after buying the equipment from the restaurant’s previous owner.

They hired two chefs from well-known Lawrence establishments and recently added a bartender from the closed Angler’s Seafood House in downtown Lawrence, Jon said.

The Cooks make it a point to listen to customers and respond with menu items they request. Fish and chips are popular, and Moni’s serves a sizable hamburger.

“Our customers told us they didn’t want little, itty bitty hamburgers. They wanted half-pound burgers,” Jon said.

The Cooks plan to add a breakfast and lunch buffet for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Jon said.

“Around 11:30, it will roll over to lunch,” he said. “We’ll have barbecue, chicken and meatloaf, all the trimmings and a salad bar. Right now, you can’t go anywhere in Baldwin and get a breakfast buffet or salad bar.”

Also coming soon will be a 130-inch, high-definition projection screen TV, which should make Moni’s more popular with Baker football players and sports fans, Jon said.


Moni 5 years, 8 months ago

Moni's hours are Wednesdays and Thursdays 5:00pm to 11:00pm and Fridays and Saturdays 11:00am to 11:00pm.


Stacy Napier 5 years, 8 months ago

Did you get some free money from the city like the other businesses with no ties to this community?

That dinner train might give you a run for your money since they are getting something like 25,000 from the city.


oscar 5 years, 7 months ago

notwhatyou think is on the mark!!!!!! way to go with you're comment, it is perfact. I think busineses should pay there taxes just like the rest of us that is what I say.


countrygal 5 years, 7 months ago

It is humbling to see your restaurant wanting to support the schools, but we do not drive to eat at a restaurant based on that. Customers go to a restaurant to eat good food that is a good value. This article did not tantilize the tastebuds to want to drive to Baldwin. Nothing mentioned that was indicating hand-made, special sauces, etc. Many can fry up shrimp or fish out of a bag from Sysco. What are you doing that is sooo extra ordinary to make people want to drive to eat at your restaurant? If you are doing something special with food, unfortunately, this article did not help get your message out.


hyperinflate 5 years, 7 months ago

What I find a bit shocking is that the Signal would actually promote local businesses in this fashion. Myrick made a deliberate point of not mixing "journalism" with being a sounding board for local business messages. Given the industry's decline it's not surprising that Elvyn was probably told by his editor to do something like this. However, in fairness to all the other businesses that have been here over the years, I can't say I like it.


Mike Bosch 5 years, 7 months ago

John and Monica, you guys rock! Great peeps.

@notwhatyouthink point taken. From my understanding, the dinner train will be much needed jobs and a slight boost to the local economy. That's a good thing. I thought the $25K was a loan, but I'm not sure.

@countrygal I went recently and was pleasantly surprised by the friendly staff, fast service, and really good food. You should check it out.

I get excited about local entrepreneurs bucking the trends, creating jobs and doing more than just dreaming about a better tomorrow. Thanks for making it happen. To say thanks, I'm planning on being a regular at Moni's.


jerseykansan 5 years, 7 months ago

Good to see a business giving back!

@countrygirl - I think the article was about the restaurant giving back to the community, and not so much about their food. Maybe the next article will be about how AWESOME their food is - esp the seafood! They serve their entrees on a bed of wild rice smothered in lobster bisque - woohoo - so good - I found their menu, you can see their menu here:

worth the drive!


Stacy Napier 5 years, 7 months ago

The dinner train will bring much needed jobs? How when they only operate three nights? Part time maybe.

Second if think the 25,000 is a loan you have been hoodwinked like the rest of the city is time and time again.


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