Chow Town

Ardie Davis: A tribute to Earl Quick’s

Ribs, wedge fries and a bolo make a memorable Last Lunch at Earl Quick’s.
Ribs, wedge fries and a bolo make a memorable Last Lunch at Earl Quick’s. Special to The Star

Last week marked the last chance to enjoy a bolo, hickory smoked spareribs, burnt ends, brisket, 1/4 pound spiral cut hot dog, wedge fries, waffle fries or anything else the famed Earl Quick’s Bar-B-Q has been pleasing customers with over the past 50 years.

Ron Quick, son of the founder, the late Earl Quick, and his wife Janet and son Dustin decided to close the restaurant when a number of factors added up to making it the right decision.

Soaring meat prices and construction projects on Merriam Lane that made restaurant access difficult and at times impossible contributed to the decision. Ron told me he’s at peace with it, that he knows it was the right decision, and that he’s ready to move on to other projects. He is young enough to focus his business, culinary savvy and positive energy in new directions.

Quick’s was one of a diminishing number of Chow Town barbecue establishments that cooks with all wood, no gas. Hickory was the wood of choice at Quick’s, where every bite of tender barbecue has a just-right kiss of smoke.

The barbecue business has been a significant part of Ron’s life since he was in diapers. His dad, the late Earl Quick, learned the art and business of barbecue from Uncle Tony Sieleman, who, with Anthony Rieke operated the famous Rosedale Barbecue on Southwest Boulevard. Earl established his own restaurant on Merriam Lane in 1964, where the restaurant still stands today.

The good news is that the heavenly smell of hickory smoked barbecue will still waft from the pit chimney at Earl Quick’s, producing quality barbecue for sale from the Quicks On Wheels food truck staffed by Dustin Quick. Catering by Earl Quick’s will also be available. That takes some of the sting out of the restaurant’s closing.

I have been a fan of Earl Quick’s since the 1980s, when the late Earl Quick was semi-retired. He made regular stops at the restaurant to make sure his son Ron remained true to Quick’s high standards. Ron did it then and has stayed the course ever since. The Quick family makes Chow Towners thankful that in Kansas City, “quick food” means slow-cooked hickory-smoked barbecue, not fast food.

We’re not at a loss for other great barbecue options in Chow Town. To the many regular loyal customers, however, there is only one Earl Quick’s, and we will miss it like the loss of a loved one. Here’s wishing the Quick family and staff a bright future.

Thank you for 50 years of legendary Kansas City barbecue, Earl Quick’s. Turn out the lights, but keep the pit fires burning.

Ardie Davis founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub & Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on food shows and writes for barbecue-related publications. He is also the author of books on barbecue. His most recent release is “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”