Chow Town

A look back at the losses, gains and changes in the 2014 KC barbecue scene

After 50 years in the same location, Earl Quick’s closed in 2014.
After 50 years in the same location, Earl Quick’s closed in 2014. Special to The Star

One constant in the Chow Town barbecue scene that will not change in 2015 is the meat menu. New meats may be added, and new sides are a certainty, but pork ribs, pork shoulder, chicken and brisket are constants. Rib tips and burnt ends will be added to more menus to keep pace with customer demand.

Another constant on the 2015 KC barbecue landscape is change. Hundreds of barbecue joints have thrived in Kansas City since the early years of the past century. Many now rest in peace in the mythical Graveyard of KC BBQ Joints. Some memorable tombstones bear the names Harris, Henry Perry, Charles Bryant, Boyd ‘N Son, Jake Edwards, Allen, Keegan, Porky, Richard France, Santa Fe Trail, Lee, Jones, Hunter, Boardroom, Westport, Rouse, Stephenson, 7th Street, Marty and KC Masterpiece. Earl Quick’s and the Golden Ox transitioned to the graveyard in 2014.

The opening of new joints over recent years adds a silver lining to our cloud of gloom at the loss of old favorites. Thank goodness for Plowboys, Burnt End, SLAP’S, Q39, Char Bar and A Little BBQ Joint, plus the continuing success of Chow Town favorites Jack Stack, Johnny’s, Joe’s Kansas City, Arthur Bryant’s, Zarda, Gates, RJ’s, Danny’s BLVD, Rosedale, LC’s, Brobeck’s, Jon Russell’s, Woodyard and at least 70 other barbecue joints in the metro area.

Despite rising meat and fuel prices, The Great Lenexa BBQ Battle, the American Royal World Series of Barbecue and most other metro contests were as strong as ever in 2014. The year also marked the first year that a kosher barbecue contest was sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS). Hats off to Carolyn Wells, the KCBS Board and Rabbi Mendel Segal for making that happen.

My crystal ball is so clouded with apple and pecan smoke that I can’t see the rest of the 2015 Chow Town barbecue landscape with clarity. As Heraclitus advised us, however, there will be change. May it all be change for the better. Happy New Year!

After 50 years in the same location, Earl Quick’s closed in 2014.

The Golden Ox closed a few months short of 65 years of serving famous flame grilled steaks and Ole Hickory smoked barbecue.

Chow Town squealed with delight when SLAP’S opened on Strawberry Hill.

New in Independence, A Little BBQ Joint is big on flavor and hospitality.

Plowboys carved a major niche in the Chow Town barbecue scene in 2014.

Char Bar ended the Westport barbecue drought in 2014, with a menu that resonates with carnivores, omnivores, vegetarians and pending vegetarians.

Oklahoma Joe’s rebranded as Joe’s Kansas City in 2014.

The first ever Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned Kosher BBQ Contest was sponsored by the Kansas City VAAD in 2014.