Barbecue lovers everywhere praise longtime friends Jeff and Joy Stehney and Joe and Page Davidson for building the world-famous “Joe’s” barbecue empire.
Although their businesses are independently owned and operated, Joe and Jeff’s friendship and brotherly competitive bond is forever. Both businesses continue to thrive, thanks to loyal local and global fans.
As ranchers, manufacturers of barbecue pits and products, world championship winners of barbecue contests, and restauranteurs, the Davidson family has secured a significant footprint in American barbecue.
Joe Davidson is Oklahoma Joe’s hands-on founder and chief executive, daughter Breckyn is in charge of marketing and communications and son Ryker heads catering operations.
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I like to say that Page is in charge of Joe. She has played a key role in the development and growth of Oklahoma Joe’s second-to-none management and daily operations team.
When the former Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City was re-branded last year to differentiate “Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que” from “Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Cue,” a few Chow Towners didn’t add the new name to their lexicon. They stuck with “Oklahoma Joe’s” out of habit or because it will always be Oklahoma Joe’s to them.
That’s why Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Cue staffers routinely check the area codes of call-in orders. Kansas City callers are politely informed that they have called Oklahoma Joe’s in Broken Arrow, Okla., instead of Joe’s Kansas City.
In addition to separate ownership, names, management and operations teams, there are some product differences between the two Joes. Joe’s Kansas City smokes with white oak. Oklahoma Joe’s smokes with pecan.
Some menu items overlap; others are unique to one Joe or the other. For example, Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que offers dirty rice, red beans and rice, smoked chicken gumbo and Red Pig Chili.
Oklahoma Joe’s has Joe’s hot links, barbecue bologna, daily burnt ends, Smoked White Chicken Chili, okra, loaded baked potato, sweet potato fries, fried pies, and cherry bread pudding with bourbon sauce — a different twist on a delicious classic, especially if you, like Joe, are not a big fan of raisins.
Oklahoma Joe’s caters private barbecue dinners in downtown Tulsa’s historic Cain’s ballroom and sells barbecue at Cain’s on show nights. In the immediate works is a new, larger restaurant in downtown Tulsa, plus a barbecue products factory. Out-of-state restaurants in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere are in Joe’s future plans.
Another player in the Davidson barbecue legacy is Joe’s brother, Roger Davidson, founder and CEO of Horizon Smokers in Perry, Okla.
When you’re itching for a barbecue road trip, Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Cue will not disappoint. Prepare for an overnight or an all-day round trip drive time of around eight hours.
On your first visit I recommend the Grand Champion Platter with sides of barbecue beans, spicy slaw, potato salad, Texas Toast, pickles and onions.
For a full-on feast, add okra, sweet potato fries, seasoned fries, onion rings, Smoked White Chicken Chili, cherry bread pudding with bourbon sauce and fried pies.
Cookies and brownies are also available. The platter with extra sides and dessert is enough for two or more people. It’s a knock-your-socks-off, truly memorable, palate-pleasing barbecue feast.
Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Cue is at 333 W. Albany St. in Broken Arrow, Okla. Its telephone number is 918-355-0000 and it can be found on the Web at okjoes.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 releases are America’s Best BBQ (Revised Edition), with chef Paul Kirk, and Barbecue Lover’s Kansas City Style .