Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue opened a new restaurant Monday in Lee’s Summit. Although it’s the fifth one in the Kansas City metropolitan area, it’s the first location it built according to its own blueprints.
I’ve always been fascinated by restaurants in general — the coordination between the front of the house and the back of the house; the creativity, or lack thereof, in the kitchen; the ambiance; the service; the wine list — the whole enchilada.
But what fascinates me even more is how and why a restaurant is created. I used the Jack Stack opening as a chance to explore that topic in a conversation with company president Case Dorman, whom I consider a friend.
I first wanted to know why the company chose now to build a new restaurant and why it chose to do it in Lee’s Summit.
“It’s been nine years since we opened our last restaurant on the (Country Club) Plaza,” Dorman said. “We always knew we were going to open another restaurant. It was just a matter of timing and finding the right place. We were ready.”
Dorman said they looked around the city and found Lee’s Summit had the demographic that best fit Jack Stack’s concept. But finding the right demographic fit is just the first step in a very long process.
“This all started about two years ago,” he said. “It took us almost a year just to buy the lot. We broke ground in August of 2014, so it was another eight months of construction.”
Dorman said the biggest challenges were in the engineering details that came with designing not just a new restaurant but a new barbecue restaurant that features a living, breathing fire right in the middle of its space. There were details, he said, Jack Stack had never dealt with before.
All that behind them, however, Dorman and the entire Jack Stack team can now focus on the restaurant’s opening, which, in another first for the company, featured a ribbon cutting. In the past, Jack Stack had always done soft openings, letting the word of mouth fill the seats. That’s not the case this time. And Dorman said he’d be lying if he said he didn’t have butterflies.
“Oh yeah. This is a big risk,” he said. “There are always butterflies. I like to call it healthy nervousness. If I weren’t nervous, that would probably mean I’m not focused enough.”
Dorman said they hoped to be busy for the opening but not to the point of being overwhelmed.
“We want to be able to operate and execute at a high level,” he said. “We want to be 90 percent early on, then hopefully build to that 98 or 99 percent level.”
Dorman wouldn’t disclose how much the company has spent on the new location, but it’s clear Jack Stack has a lot more than dollars riding on this space. It’s out to prove it can do something it has never done before on a pretty big stage yet still turn out those burnt ends, ribs, pulled pork and cheesy corn — a personal favorite — just like it’s been doing at its original Martin City location for 40 years.
The new location is in the SummitWoods Crossing Shopping Center at 1840 N.W. Chipman Road.
Dave Eckert is the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS-TV and Wealth TV for 12 seasons.