Chow Town

Tired of turkey? Consider a little barbecue

A Little BBQ Joint’s Harry S with a side of hot potato salad.
A Little BBQ Joint’s Harry S with a side of hot potato salad. Special to The Star

Don’t get caught up in the frenzy of shopping and competing for bargains tomorrow.

Go rogue with some “give ‘em hell” barbecue that national food celebrities have not yet discovered. A Little BBQ Joint in Harry Truman’s hometown is Chow Town’s little secret.

It takes courage, energy, savvy, capital and a can-do attitude to open a new barbecue joint in the Barbecue Capital of the World. Fabian Bauer brings that and more to this little barbecue joint on West U.S. 24 highway in Independence.

Fabian’s auto body repair and painter skills are evident outside and inside. The “Welcome” canopy over the front door is an old school bus roof. Repurposed junkyard trunk lids, car doors and other parts work as signs and functional art. Old Cadillac and Chevy Impala bodies emblazoned with Fabian’s signature flames support the bar counter.

Booth lampshades are auto paint guns with the bottom cut out. Booth seats are car seats. The creative art in this joint could almost distract your appetite. That’s not going to happen.

Try the burnt ends with a side of Snail’s favorite hot potato salad — hot temperature-wise, not spicy hot. The joint’s cubed bites of smoke-kissed beef brisket are melt-in-your mouth tender, with a choice of three sauces.

Fabian won’t say if he had some specific people in mind when he came up for the names of his three sauces. The hottest sauce is Mean Mother-In-Law. Mad Housewife pairs sweetness with a spicy kick. Sweet Sister is sweet and mild.

Tomorrow is a good day to honor Harry “The Buck Stops Here” Truman with a Harry S. This 1/4-pound splayed grilled hot dog topped with melted jack cheese and barbecue pulled pork in a hamburger bun makes a perfect “buck stops here” Black Friday statement in the spirit of POTUS 33.

Fabian, with no prior restaurant experience, got his game on so quickly that he sold out on opening day and routinely sells 300 pounds of burnt ends, 500 pounds of brisket, 350 pounds of pork, 220 pounds of chicken and 14 cases of ribs every week.

He’ll soon need to add a new barbecue pit to keep up with escalating demand. Odds are it will be another Fast Eddy pellet cooker from Cookshack in Ponca City, Okla.

“Fast Eddy is my mentor,” Fabian told me.

Ed “Fast Eddy” Mauren is a Chow Town native with impeccable barbecue credentials. Who better to mentor you than a former professional firefighter, award winning competition barbecue pitmaster, former board member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society, and inventor of one of the most popular barbecue pits in the barbecue restaurant industry?

Fabian’s dad, Don Bauer, daughter, Amy Bauer, pitmaster/right-hand man Nick Alonge, Jose Gonzalez, and the other attentive, talented kitchen crew and waitstaff play key roles in the success of this little joint.

Thanks to my good friend, Jay “The Snail” Vantuyl, for telling me about this joint. A Little BBQ Joint is actually Chow Town’s BIG secret.

A Little BBQ Joint is located at 1101 West U.S. 24 highway in Independence. Its telephone number is 816-252-2275 and can be found online 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. 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.”