Jim Chappell was born in Keokuk, Iowa in 1942 to his father, Charles Birdsall and mother, Pauline Simpson. Like many young boys, Jim was big into sports. Jim started scrap-booking and collecting sports memorabilia and at a very young age. Little did he know that his hobbies as a boy would turn into a lifelong calling.
Jim attended Keokuk Senior High School and went on to further his education at Drury College in Springfield, Missouri, where he graduated with a degree in arts. He met his wife, Gina, while working after college in the 1960's at Arrowhead Lodge, a popular resort at Lake of the Ozarks. To this day, the Lake of the Ozarks remains a favorite destination for the two who have been married for over 50 years.
Jim moved to Kansas City in the late 1960’s to start a career and has called it home ever since. Upon his arrival, Jim started working for Mobil Oil and after five years, he came to the realization working for a large corporation was not a good fit for him. After leaving Mobil, he then went on to start a successful insurance agency that happened to be right across the street from where Chappell’s Restaurant & Sports Museum is located today. In 1981, he started a license plate agency and was awarded the contract that created license plates for the state of Missouri. Governor Kit Bond awarded him the contract and they have remained close personal friends to this day. Jim’s license plate agency continued on into the Ashcroft administration and ended shortly after he left office.
With the profits earned from his insurance business and license plate agency, Jim decided to pursue his passion and open a sports bar where he could display his sports memorabilia. His plan for the sports bar was to make it look like it had been in business for 35 years before the doors had ever opened. He frequently attended sports memorabilia trade shows and acquired such an astounding collection, that he became a nationally known sports collector across the United States. When Chappell's opened its doors in 1986, success was almost instant and within the first six months, he decided to purchase the 4,600 square foot building that housed his sports bar. With his lifelong obsession of collecting and his degree in arts, it became the perfect storm that birthed the iconic Chappell’s Restaurant & Sports Museum.
Chappell’s has been recognized as one of the nation’s top sports restaurants by multiple national publications and websites. In 2005, Chappell’s was named as a top 10 sports bar in America by Sports Illustrated and has made numerous other top destination lists for Kansas City and the surrounding region.
The restaurant has since become a destination for athletes and sports fans alike while visiting the Midwest. With the restaurant being a popular destination for athletes, Jim has made several lifelong friendships along the way with some of Kansas City’s sports royalty. Len Dawson, Bobby Bell, Lamar Hunt, Hank Stram, Charlie Finley, and the list goes on and on.
Jim has a book published about him entitled: Conversations at Chappell’s. The book is a collection of stories from Kansas City’s sports elite that documents their personal relationships and friendships with Jim.
Jim sold Chappell’s Restaurant & Sports Museum in 2017 to David M. Block, a renown commercial real estate developer and broker. Although Jim sold the restaurant, he still remains extremely active and involved with the restaurant. You can find him there chatting with customers and giving tours of the memorabilia on almost a daily basis.
Timeline of Jim Chappell's Career:
Member of the Native Sons & Daughters of Greater Kansas City
Member, American Legion Post 58
Member of Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
Clay County Fine Ats Commission - President, Board of Directors
Social Rehabilitation Association of Clay County