Oklahoma Joe’s opening Olathe event space - is a name change next?

08/25/2014 11:54 AM

08/25/2014 9:24 PM

Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Que doesn’t want to turn away customers.

But Jeff and Joy Stehney agreed when they launched their first restaurant in 1996 that it wouldn’t be open on Sundays. They wanted one day a week guaranteed for family time.

Now with three restaurants, they’ve often had to turn away customers who wanted to rent the place for a special event.

But while the restaurants are still closed on Sundays, the Stehneys can now accommodate those private events.

They took over a 4,000-square-foot space at 11944 S. Strang Line Road, next to their Olathe restaurant, and have converted it into a private event spaced called The 180 Room.

The 180 Room is named after what it takes to earn a perfect score in some Kansas City Barbeque Society contests. The Stehneys said “180” also is now their code to excel in all aspects of the operation — food, service and relationships with customers and staff.

The room, which is now booking for events after Labor Day, will seat around 80 people for business meetings, wedding receptions, retirement parties and other events (one woman plans to celebrate her 90th birthday there in mid-October). The room also can be divided up for smaller groups.

It features some of the Stehneys’ western art collection for an upscale atmosphere but the space is also “warm and welcoming and extremely versatile,” said Doug Worgul, director of marketing for Oklahoma Joe’s.

Food will be served buffet style and menus can be customized, with options available for those with dietary restrictions and food allergies.

Appetizers will include grilled gulf shrimp, sliders and pork sticks (pulled pork, breaded and fried, with Joe’s sauce).

The lunch buffet will include a selection of three smoked meats, a section of three sides and housemade cookies and brownies.

The dinner buffet will include chopped salad, selection of four smoked meats, a selection of four sides, and a choice of desserts (bread pudding, chocolate cake, carrot cake and pie or cobbler). The 180 Room also has a full-bar.

Name change?

More than two years ago, Oklahoma Joe’s introduced “Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que Sauce.”

Then, about 18-months ago, the restaurant came out with a “Joe’s Original French Fry Seasoning.”

Now it has two new T-shirts — one that says “Quality Smoked Meats Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que;” and “Home of the Z-Man Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que.”

Is the “Oklahoma Joe’s” name being phased out? The owners declined to comment on the name change at this time.

The Stehneys and another partner opened the first Oklahoma Joe’s in January 1996 in Stillwater, Okla. The partner in that location later relocated to Texas. The Oklahoma restaurant was closed and the Stehneys became sole owners of the Kansas City, Kan. restaurant, as well as ones that later opened in Leawood and Olathe.

The corporate headquarters is based in Kansas City, Kan., and some area Oklahoma Joe’s fans have lamented the lack of a local identity in the name.

To reach Joyce Smith, call 816-234-4692 or send email to jsmith@kcstar.com.

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