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The West Side is where the bulk of Jones' real-estate holdings are, and it's here that he has formed the friendships that evolved into lasting business partnerships. This is his neighborhood. He sits on the board of the Westside Housing Organization. He's helping guide the renovation of West High.
"He puts people together for conversations," says Boulevard founder John McDonald. "It's all kind of crazy stuff at first. But then, the more you kind of think about it, the more it has a reason and path."
Jones and McDonald have found their paths intertwined since their sons were born a few weeks apart. They have traveled together ("These old Indian women in Peru literally got down on their knees with their rosaries out because I really think they thought he was Jesus Christ come to Cuzco," McDonald recalls), invested in property together (the Carnival Building, at Eighth Street and Broadway) and launched a business together (Ripple Glass). Boulevard keeps its marketing department in one of Jones' buildings, and he's helping renovate the old Heim bottling plant owned by McDonald and Krum in the East Bottoms.
"He can go into a building that literally everyone else looks at and sees as only fit to be demolished," Krum says. He and Jones haven't bought a building together in 15 years, but they still jointly own seven pieces of property. "He sees the essence and is able to strip away everything else in a way that's really remarkable. I just follow behind with a dustpan and broom."
Jones first made his name here with a restaurant, repurposing a shuttered gas station to open the West Side Café on Southwest Boulevard. (That space is now the tattoo shop called Irezumi.)
"They used to call it the postage-stamp restaurant," says former partner Ali Shirazi, who now runs the test kitchen for Original Juan. "It seemed like overnight, it became so popular. It was like a destination for Kansas City."
The tiny restaurant had a menu that changed daily to feature cuisines from around the globe. Jones' gas-station retrofitting predated restaurants that would make the idea fashionable: Oklahoma Joe's, the Filling Station, Pizza 51.
"It's always easier to destroy things," Shirazi says. "It's harder to keep and make things beautiful. But Adam is one of those people. He can make beauty out of trash."
The success of the West Side Café led Jones and his wife to open the adjacent Blvd. Café. (They would also briefly operate Noori's Café, on the first floor of the Marietta Chair Building, at 20th Street and Baltimore.) Jones still owns the building at 703 Southwest Boulevard; La Bodega is the tenant.
"The restaurant caused me to meet up with all these big business people," he says. "I'm not from here. My dad's not from here. But that was my way in."
Jones was born in Texas, where his adoptive dad (Jones' biological father is from Iran, as is his wife) worked as a computer engineer for Texas Instruments. The family briefly lived in the Kansas City area, in a house off Pflumm Road, when he was in junior high, a time he recalls as one of riding a bike through "a neighborhood of 30 houses and cornfields." His parents moved the family again, eventually settling in Dallas. Jones applied to the Art Institute and returned to KC.
At the base of Summit, Jones encounters fellow West Side developer Ryan Gale. They stand in the road and chat briefly before Gale gives Jones an egg from the chickens in his backyard. Jones hands Gale one of the apples he just picked.