When Casey Lueck opened his business on the main drag in Grandview, he intentionally left the word “barbecue” off the sign.
“I was kind of afraid to put barbecue on the sign just because it’s such a saturated market here,” he says. “But the barbecue took off because that’s what everyone wanted.”
Right now, that barbecue is available to-go from the small carryout shop, a general store with homemade provisions from Lueck’s mom.
But soon it’s going to be a much bigger business a few miles south in his native Belton. Lueck recently inked a deal to buy the old Bank of Belton building, built circa 1884. It was the first masonry structure in the southside suburb and sits in the middle of a main drag the city has recently, in Lueck’s words, “dumped a bunch of money into.”
The two-story building has its three original vaults and a skylight that was its source of light. There’s plenty of room for outdoor seating and increasing foot traffic thanks to downtown antique shops and a street beautification project that’s set to tackle sidewalks next. The project was announced at a golf tournament for the city’s Chamber of Commerce and “kinda blew up” with attendees. Lueck’s goal is to be open next spring—and with a background in the lumber business, he might have a better handle on the build-out process than many newbie restaurateurs.
“Belton is making that change and you can see it,” Lueck says. “I think the community’s excited for it. Anything that has outdoor seating, where you can smell the barbecue and hear live music and get a cold beer, is going to do well.”
Lueck’s barbecue is made very much to his own taste. The brisket is super tender and super lean. The burnt ends are real burnt ends, cut from the point. My preferred way to eat them is as a topper to a salted baked potato—for some reason a rare format in these parts but always a personal favorite.
Everything Lueck smokes is done on stick-burners using cherry, with no pellets or gas assist. Lueck says he does it this way for several reasons, but “definitely not to save money.”
“I used to swear by hickory, and I’ve tried all the woods out there, but hickory has sort of a numbinginess about it,” he says. “You can overpower the meat really easily with it. Cherry just turns out the way I like it. That being said, it’s barbecue, and you can’t please everyone in the city. I learned that real fast.”
One place he’ll never try to please people is at a barbecue competition. Competition standards vary too much from his own taste, Lueck says.
“Mine would fail,” he says. “It’s too tender. My ribs fall off the bone and that’s the way I like them, and that’s the way people who come to my place like them. If I ever go to a competition, I’ll be standing behind the judges taking all the stuff they throw out.”