If you want barbecue at Raytown brewery, get in line. And fast, before they sell out

Kansas City BBQ: What’s so special about it?

Famous Kansas City barbecue restaurants, from Arthur Bryant's to Joe's Kansas City to Q39.
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Famous Kansas City barbecue restaurants, from Arthur Bryant's to Joe's Kansas City to Q39.

Barbecue fans line up every Saturday, patiently waiting in a long line that runs through the back rooms of Crane Brewing Co. in Raytown.

They banter. They exchange business cards. They discuss what to order. They “ooh and aahh” when customers pick up their trays piled with brisket, ribs, pulled pork, jalapeno cheese sausage, pastrami, and sides such as cheesy corn and baked beans. There are splashes of color on the plates — bright green house-made pickle slices, juicy strawberries and ribbons of red pickled onions.

But there’s a sense of unease.

That’s because once Harp Barbecue sells out of an item, that’s it for the day. As the offerings disappear, they are crossed off the list up front. The bad news quickly spreads down the long line of hungry patrons.

The barbecue is owned by Tyler Harp. As a child he would tag along with his father, uncle and their friends on the barbecue competition circuit. After graduating from high school, he worked in a butcher shop for five years, and then the Hereford House for five more. Meanwhile, he honed his barbecue skills at home.

Harp hit every barbecue in the metro and visited other famed barbecue cities to learn about the different styles from top pitmasters. Along with “random catering jobs,” he started business in his driveway and counted on word of mouth.

In March 2016, he set up in the parking lot of Crane Brewing Co. at 6515 Railroad St. in Raytown. Earlier this year he was invited indoors, as a pop-up from 11 a.m. to sell-out on Saturdays. The taproom fills up with barbecue and beer customers, and spills out to the picnic tables in front.

Crane’s owners Chris Meyers and Michael Crane are putting in a commercial kitchen so Harp Barbecue can be a full-time operation. Crane Brewing opened in the heart of Raytown in 2015.

Harp said: “We’re trying to bring really cool stuff to Raytown. They’ve kind of been neglected.”

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