Joe Tulipana said his family has owned fast food and full-service restaurants in the Kansas City area for more than 25 years. But when it came time to open a restaurant of his own, barbecue was his cuisine of choice.
“It is a fun process, to see it develop over hours, and the whole science behind it,” he said. “It takes a lot of patience and love.”
Tulipana, 25, earned a civil engineering degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2012, and worked in software programming in the area for a couple of years before “taking the leap” to become a restaurateur.
He took a space at 13214 W. 62nd Terr., in Shawnee, and has spent the last few months converting the former Happy Banzai Japanese Steakhouse into Blind Box BBQ.
He used walnut that his father, a former lumberjack, had held onto for 15 or more years to build the “bourbon bar,” and he built the wood table tops and barn door leading into the private dining area with his brother, John Tulipana, 19, giving the spot a modern rustic/industrial decor.
Joe Tulipana named his new restaurant after the “blind boxes” that barbecue teams submit to judges in competitions and described his menu as “old-school Kansas City barbecue with a modern twist.”
Along with bourbon cocktails and craft beers, he has BBQ Street Corn instead of traditional cheesy corn. There’s also signature sandwiches like the Notorious P.I.G. (local smoked sausage topped with pulled pork, onion straws and mac-and-cheese for $13), the Lil’ Juicy (named after his first smoker, it has smoked shaved steak with a horseradish cream sauce for $11), and the Carolina Q (“low and slow” pulled pork, topped with onion straws and house slaw for $8). Barbecue dinners include burnt ends, bourbon chicken breast, Kansas City strip, Mediterranean shrimp pasta and baby back ribs and spare ribs.
Appetizers include The Butcher’s Block with a variety of its Blind Box BBQ’s smoked meats and artisan cheeses, barbecue nachos, wings, and housemade potato chips, as well as specialty burgers and entree salads.
“Everyone in Shawnee tells me they have been waiting for a barbecue restaurant serving upscale bourbon drinks. It is just very convenient for them to have a new spot,” Tulipana said.
Tulipana’s family currently owns the nearby PowerPlay Family Entertainment Center.
Johnson County restaurants opening soon
▪ McAlister’s Deli plans to open a location at 11330 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Shawnee, in early 2016.
The Alpharetta, Ga.-based, fast casual restaurant chain was founded in 1989. Its menu includes sandwiches, baked potatoes, soups, salads, desserts and sweet tea. It currently has nearly 340 restaurants in 24 states.
▪ Qdoba Mexican Grill plans a late fall opening at 6350 Johnson Drive, Mission, former home of Schlotzsky’s Deli. The chain, which was founded in Denver in 1995, specializes in customizable Mexican entrees, including burritos, tacos, nachos, Mexican gumbo, quesadillas and taco salad. It now has more than 600 restaurants in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. It also is opening new locations in the Northland and in Westport.
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