Steve Schussler, creator of Rainforest Café and T-Rex Café, spent three years developing his Backfire BBQ Featuring Orange County Choppers before going up against Kansas City’s famed operations.
It opened in late 2009 - in what is now the Legends Outlets Kansas City. It has custom-built motorcycles by Orange County Choppers, an open flame "hot pit" where customers can make s’mores, and a retail shop with motorcycle themed merchandise.
Chicago’s Levy Restaurants oversaw day-to-day operations.
But less than three months after opening, Backfire was hit with nine critical violations during an inspection by the Department of Agriculture following a complaint.
Now Levy is out and Kansas City’s PB&J Restaurants has taken over management of the restaurant.
PB&J has the local Red Robin Gourmet Burgers franchise and its own concepts, YiaYia and the Burnt End BBQ & Catering, as well as other management contracts.
"We love the concept. We’ll just fine-tune it a little bit, expand the menu, expand the barbecue with burnt ends, add steak and salmon, more variety," said Paul Khoury, co-owner of PB&J. "We’ll bring in more Harley-Davidson merchandise and get more involved in the community."
PB&J said the retail store also was understocked with only size XXL in some shirts.
In a statement Levy Restaurants said: “Levy Restaurants and Schussler Creative have reached a mutual agreement to end their partnership at Backfire BBQ restaurant effective June 13. We have enjoyed our partnership and wish the Schussler team much success."
Schussler said it was especially important to ramp up operations at Backfire now that the Legends is experiencing a rebirth with its repositioning as an outlet center and the influx of people coming to the new Livestrong Sporting Park nearby.
"Local management is really important. We wanted to have someone with a vested interest in the community," Schussler said. "These guys with PB&J have great ideas and great enthusiasm."