Eric Sweeney says barbecue must have gotten in his blood way back in 1972.
That’s when the then-13-year-old got his first job loading wood into the pit of the new Hayward’s barbecue in Overland Park.
He’s been in the restaurant business ever since. And since late January, he’s has been at the helm of Hayward’s, purchasing the restaurant from founder Hayward Spears Sr.
Sweeney’s goal is to revamp the decades-old operation and return it to its glory days. His tagline: “Old school Hayward’s for the 21st century taste.”
Sweeney wants to use only the highest-quality ingredients and local vendors, including produce from the Overland Park Farmers Market.
He’s added a smoked salmon salad entree (smoked Alaskan salmon on spring mix, with carrots, cucumbers and grape tomatoes) and a Hayward’s Pit Master sandwich (one pound of beef brisket on a 12-ounce bun with a large side of french fries), as well as pies from Sysco. The restaurant also is offering a delivery service within a five-mile radius.
Sweeney spruced up the decor — repainted, new carpet, new televisions — and put in some new kitchen equipment. The restaurant, 11051 Antioch Road, seats 221 customers and has a banquet room that can hold more than 140.
Hayward’s Pit BBQ also hopes to start offering live blues and jazz on Friday and Saturday nights starting this summer. Sweeney’s wife is local jazz singer D.J. Sweeney.
Sweeney had been a production manager at the famed Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue. A former Oklahoma Joe’s pit master, Roland Stephens, is now pit master at Hayward’s. Spears is still coming in most days as a consultant and public “face” of the barbecue.
Spears learned how to barbecue from his father over a backyard pit at the family farm near Hope, Ark. He opened Hayward’s in the Cherokee South Shopping Center at 95th Street and Antioch Road in 1972. Customers were lined up the first day.
Spears later moved the restaurant to Antioch Road and College Boulevard. His children didn’t want to take over the restaurant, and attempts at taking on partners didn’t pan out.
Sweeney said the brand name is still strong.
“Business is good and getting better,” Sweeney said.Updates for Overland Park’s Corbin Park
Oklahoma restaurant chain Ted’s Cafe Escondido is coming to Overland Park.
The developer of Corbin Park said Ted’s will open in a 7,500-square-foot free-standing building near Sprouts Farmers Market, with construction to start in October and the restaurant opening in early 2015 opening. Ted’s officials did not return phone calls.
Ted’s has several restaurants in Oklahoma. Menu items include tamales, nachos, enchiladas, tacos, tostadas, quesadillas and burritos.
Zales and Spin Neapolitan Pizza also are looking at opening in the center at 135th Street and Metcalf Avenue.
In other Corbin Park updates:
Ulta Beauty, a national beauty product retailer, has opened at 6403 W. 135th St. The shops offer cosmetics, fragrance, hair care, skin care, bath and body products, and salon styling tools, as well as salon hair care products.Retail and restaurant closings
• J. Hathaway Shoe Boutique has closed after four years in Park Place, 11531 Ash St., Leawood. The owner did not return phone calls or emails seeking comment.
• Less than a year after opening, Marco’s Pizza closed recently at 7060 W. 135th St., Overland Park, and the franchisee, who planned an Olathe location, couldn’t be reached for comment.
In a statement, Cameron Cummins, vice president of franchise development at Marco’s, said: “Marco’s Pizza remains a vibrant and growing brand with more than 470 locations nationwide. In fact, we are moving forward with expansion plans partnering with Family Video to add additional locations in the area. There is currently one location open in Shawnee...and we are working with Family Video on site drawings for Haysville and Olathe in addition to vetting more locations throughout the state.”
• Less than a year after opening, Pacific Buffet Sushi Steak Grill has closed at 8725 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park. Fuddruckers also had operated in the spot before Royal Buffet took over for a short stint.