Kansas City barbecue restaurant shuttering after 46 years

Kansas City Star

A City Market barbecue mainstay will shut down in mid-October.

Winslow’s BBQ, at 20 E. Fifth St., Suite 101 A, got its start as City Market Barbecue in 1971, according to former owner Dave Winslow.

“My brother, Don Winslow Jr., was pitmaster with the nickname the ‘Sultan of Smokes,’ ” he said.

Don Winslow and his parents bought the restaurant in 1984, according to Kansas City Star archives, and later added Winslow’s to the name. When Don Winslow Jr. died at age 40 in 1994, Dave Winslow returned to Kansas City from Dallas, where he had an advertising business, and took over the barbecue.

“My dad was still there. I would go in and catch him in the kitchen sucking the meat off of chicken wings. He would say, ‘Dave I’m just doing quality control,’ ” he said.

Gerry and Tina Heldrich purchased Winslow’s City Market Barbecue in late 2009 and slightly changed the name to Winslow’s BBQ. They also introduced new rubs, sauces, hot baked sandwiches and several new salads. But they will shut the longtime barbecue down at the end of business Oct. 15.

“I’ve been down here eight years and in the restaurant business 40 years, so I think it is time,” Gerry Heldrich said. “I’m ready to do something different that’s a lot lower key.”

In a statement, officials with KC Commercial Realty Group, which manages the city-owned market, said the decision not to renew the lease was mutual and there is no new tenant to announce for the space at this time.

KC Soda Co. recently opened a retail shop in part of Winslow’s bar area and took over part of its patio and entrance off Fifth Street in what is now Suite 101 C. Heldrich said giving up the bar space was a mutual decision in a lease amendment negotiation in November.

Dave Winslow said he was sad to see the barbecue — which has operated under his family’s name for more than 30 years — shut its doors.

“But I’m not surprised. The inconsistency that I saw both personally and through word of mouth was reinforced when he lost the lease on his bar late last year,” Winslow said. “That was the beginning of the end.”

Heldrich declined to comment on Winslow’s statements.

Winslow’s BBQ will a have “farewell party” with live music Oct. 13 to Oct. 15 and a daily all-you-can-eat buffet special ($13.99 per adult, $4.99 for children 12-and-under with a paying adult).

“I told my employees 30 days out, giving them advance notice when most restaurants are afraid of theft or that their employees will leave,” Heldrich said. “But I believe my staff is great and they want to serve their customers to the very best to the end and leave in a positive mode.”

Joyce Smith: 816-234-4692, @JoyceKC