The folks at Summit Hickory Pit BBQ have been smokin’ and serving the good stuff for 25 years and are planning a week-long celebration of their silver anniversary during October at the popular Lee’s Summit restaurant.
When Summit’s owners, husband and wife Mike Ghani and Katy Birchfield, decided to open a business in 1992, they weren’t sure what that business was going to be. All the couple knew was that they both loved people and serving the public.
Having prior experience working together at a local barbecue restaurant, the couple decided to start their own and Summit Hickory Pit BBQ was born.
Summit remains a family business 25 years later, but the definition of family is quite inclusive.
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“Our employees, customers, and community are all important,” said Summit manager Genia Mattoon, who is the daughter-in-law of Ghani and Birchfield. “When we serve our customers, we feel like it’s serving our family. Our customers are our friends and we put them first. They’re picking us out of how many restaurants out there?”
Ghani developed Summit’s popular signature sauce and their unique meat smoking process.
“We serve true Kansas City-style BBQ,” Mattoon said. “It has a sweetness mixed with a little tang and spiciness.”
On a given day, Ghani and his son, Allen Birchfield, might be found at the kitchen’s helm, where all of the food is prepared from scratch. Together they supervise the cooking, including the meats which are smoked in open brick pit ovens over hickory wood.
Not much else is added because the hickory wood seasons and tenderizes the meat as it cooks, Allen explained.
Katy and Mattoon have the front of the restaurant covered — and “re-covered.”
Unique to many restaurants, all of the artwork and décor at Summit is for sale. What happens when it sells? Katy and Mattoon head to a market — such as those in Dallas, Atlanta, or the World’s Longest Garage Sale — and bring back jewelry, wall art, collectibles, and other items to display (and sell) in the restaurant.
Katy also works with Mattoon to bring new items to the menu.
One of their most popular items is Pigs on a Brick, which is three pulled pork sandwiches served on an antique red brick with fried and baked beans on the side.
“It’s a real conversation piece,” Mattoon said.
According to Mattoon, one of the restaurant’s greatest challenges is to make sure people know about Summit and keep coming back.
“There are a lot of restaurants to choose from and we are off the beaten path,” she said. “Katy and I do a lot of marketing and networking to grow the business.”
The Summit family also invests lots of time and energy in meeting the needs of the greater Lee’s Summit community.
“It’s so important to be part of our community as much as possible,” Mattoon said. “Everything and everyone is connected, and it’s so important to give back.
The restaurant’s family and staff volunteer for the Lee’s Summit School District and participate in a number of charitable activities throughout the year.
Ghani and Katy not only reach out to the community but they “reach in,” building the restaurant’s culture on a foundation of respect and caring for their employees.
University of Central Missouri marketing student, Natalie Craig, has worked at Summit for three years.
“It’s different here than other restaurants,” she said. You can express your feelings or ask for help with no negative feedback from the owners or managers,” she says. “They see you as successful and wish you success in your life.”
At their current location for 20 years, Summit employees 50-55 people at any one time, including many high school and college students. “We work with a lot of younger people,” says Mattoon. “We have the philosophy that we want to mentor them and set them up for success wherever they go and whatever their next move is in life. It’s a responsibility we take very seriously.”
Summit Hickory Pit BBQ savors 25 years
Summit Hickory Pit BBQ is located at 1012 S.E. Blue Parkway.
The restaurant is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
During the week of October 22-28th, Summit is planning a full week of 25th anniversary celebration specials, including “Back to 1992” prices and more.
In addition to the restaurant, Summit Hickory Pit BBQ offers a full spectrum of catering services — including office parties, wedding receptions, birthdays, company picnics, and other special events. Inside the restaurant, Summit has thee private dining rooms, including one that seats up to 75 people.
Visitors also can check out the SHP Trading Post, featuring apparel and gift items along with the restaurant’s signature barbecue sauce. Artwork and décor throughout the restaurant also is for sale.
For more information, contact Summit Hickory Pit BBQ at (816) 246-4434 or visit their website.