Chow Town

With the Golden Ox saying farewell, what’s next?

The Golden Ox parking lot has seen better days, including the first American Royal Barbecue.
The Golden Ox parking lot has seen better days, including the first American Royal Barbecue. Special to The Star

Joyce Smith announced the Golden Ox is closing. Cindy Hoedel shared some Facebook posts about it.

The Ox is the one Chow Town steak and barbecue destination that most of us took for granted would always be there.

No more signature Ox-flamed KC strip steaks or Ole Hickory Pit smoked, crunchy-outside, tender-inside spareribs with salad, pit beans and a loaded baked potato on the side.

No more monastic feel with dim lighting, dark woodwork, soft carpeting, quiet and reverent like the Trappist chapel in Gethsemane, Ky., prior to sunrise Mass. The final days will fill the Ox with the buzz and hubbub of diners feasting and chatting one last time.

When we’re finished with the necessary lamentations and nostalgia, it’s time to go from what-was to what-could-be. A fast food joint or fast food court is off the table. Same goes for chain-style table service fast food.

This place is a destination. You want to go there because it has something to attract you. Many ideas will be kicked around as to the next use of the Golden Ox space. The building owner and chosen developer will have final say.

A new concept may already be in place, but here’s a thought:

Build a boutique hotel nearby, featuring themed suites that pay tribute to Chow Town’s agribusiness history. For example, a Tom Bass American Royal Founder’s Suite, a Barbecue Hall of Fame Suite, Cowgirl Hall of Fame Suite, Cowboy Hall of Fame Suite, Cattle Barons’ Suite and Ranch Hand Bunkhouse Suites. Some of the artifacts from the Golden Ox restaurant could adorn the suites.

The totally renovated restaurant could feature American regional barbecue at its best, with a Memphis section, a Texas section, a Carolinas section, a Kansas City section and a Competition Pitmasters section.

The décor in each section would reflect a respective region, but diners could order any style of barbecue they want from one menu. Memphis menu items would include barbecue spaghetti; charcoal-grilled Rendezvous-style babyback ribs, dry or wet; pulled pork sandwiches and fried pies.

Texas would include beef ribs; beef brisket; cabrito; big pork chops; big sirloin steaks and pork spareribs.

The Carolinas menu would include pulled or chopped pork sandwiches with bark or pig cracklins; coleslaw; vinegar and vinegar/tomato sauces; skillet cornbread; a King-style Pig in a Puppy and banana pudding.

The Kansas City menu would feature burnt ends; rib tips; pork spareribs; specialty sandwiches and sweet potato pie.

The Competition Pitmasters Room would feature the standard competition Kansas City, Texas and Memphis meats, trimmed to perfection, heavily seasoned and glazed.

Monthly specials could feature barbecue from other states: Kentucky mutton, lamb ribs and burgoo stew, for example, or northern Alabama barbecue chicken in white sauce.

I expect this idea will take on as much traction as my Planet Barbecue proposal for the Kemper Arena/American Royal campus complex.

Meanwhile, the Golden Ox will close after dinner on Dec. 20. Reservations are booked solid. Regrets and a fond farewell to owner Bill Teel, general manager Mike Holland and staff.

The Golden Ox is at 1600 Genessee St. in Kansas City. Its telephone number is 816-842-2866 and more information can be found at goldenox.com.

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 release is “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”

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