Chow Town

Bichelmeyer Meats’ success lies in its ‘come back sauce’

Don’t forget the sauce at Bichelmeyer Meats.
Don’t forget the sauce at Bichelmeyer Meats. Special to The Star

Marketing experts and businesses of all sizes continuously search for the “Success X-factor.”

A “country boy” with eight years of formal education and a lifetime of learning by doing figured it out years ago. He called it “come back sauce.”

“Come back sauce” is the customer relations metaphor of the late John Bichelmeyer, founder of Bichelmeyer Meats. His common sense, effective formula treats all customers with respect, gives them what they want and always thanks them for their business. “Come back sauce” builds trust and confidence in you and your products. It makes first-time customers into regular customers.

Bichelmeyer is a familiar name in the Chow Town barbecue community and meat industry. Joe Bichelmeyer refers to its niche as “a dinosaur,” since no other meat business in the city limits owns a ranch, raises and slaughters the livestock, dry ages the meat and custom butchers meats in-house. It also smokes meats, makes a fantastic assortment of sausages that are second to none, renders lard, makes “Piggy Pops” (pig cracklings) and hosts a thriving Mexican restaurant every Saturday.

Although Bichelmeyer Meats started in 1946, its agribusiness roots go back several generations. Family patriarch Mathias Bichelmeyer brought his professional butcher skills from Germany to Kansas City, Kan., in 1880.

Bichelmeyer is my favorite go-to place for the ham hocks that are essential to my navy, pinto and red bean soups. As for bologna: there’s bologna and there’s Bichelmeyer’s bologna. Its garlic bologna is the best I’ve ever eaten. Bacon, souse, snoots, tails, ears, goat, lamb, whole hogs, you name it and Bichelmeyer has it or can get it for you.

I love the Bichelmeyer Meats Mexican dine-in or carryout feast on Saturdays. Rows of tables with plastic red-and-white checkered covers line the front windows for dine-in. A serving line to your right as you enter is set up to serve a variety of taco options, plus cheese or meat and cheese quesadillas and pork tamales. Get your free sauces and lime wedges to the right of the serving line while you wait.

Last Saturday my carnitas taco, beef and cheese quesadilla and pork tamale were delicious. I sampled each and brought the rest home to enjoy later with Gretchen. She loved it too. What a fantastic tradition.

Inspired by Mary B. Lucas’ delightful and insightful book, “Lunchmeat & Life Lessons — Sharing a Butcher’s Wisdom” (Arbor Books, 2013), the official barbecue sauce of Bichelmeyer Meats, Dad’s Comeback Sauce, is now available on location. Joe Bichelmeyer especially likes it on chicken but agrees that it’s good on everything.

It is uncomplicated and delicious, with a smooth, brown sugar-sweetened tomato base splashed with apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, liquid smoke and a gentle spicy finish. I like it straight out of the bottle as is, but you could have fun experimenting with enhancements such as raspberry preserves and pickled jalapeno vinegar or with infinite other possibilities.

Brush the sauce on barbecue meat as a finishing sauce or serve it on the side as a dipping sauce. Enhance your Sunday Bloody Mary with two shots of Dad’s Comeback Sauce.

Find your Success X-Factor at Bichelmeyer Meats, and get some meat, Dad’s Comeback Sauce and Lucas’ book while you’re at it. Joe Bichelmeyer might call it a dinosaur. I call it a not-to-be-missed Chow Town treasure.

Bichelmeyer Meats is at 704 Cheyenne St. in Kansas City, Kan. Its telephone number is 913-342-5945 and it can be found on the Web at

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. His most recent releases are America’s Best BBQ (Revised Edition), with chef Paul Kirk, and Barbecue Lover’s Kansas City Style .