“Fifth Street” isn’t really a thing—yet. But it could be in a few years with more openings like the new Wolfepack BBQ, which is right next to wildly popular Vietnamese coffee shop Cafe Cà Phê and down the block from Swoon Cookie Crafters.
Just over a year ago, Jared Wolfe opened his ’cue concept, which uses live-fire pits to make Texas-style sliced brisket, juicy turkey breast and pulled pork. His plan was to stay in his original location, Callsign Brewing in North KC. But then a friend spotted a storefront in Columbus Park
“It’s almost a destination,” Wolfe says of the strip. “We’re kind of creating this little Fifth Street small-business district where people can come and support us.”
As of our deadline, Wolfepack was still cooking and serving out of its original trailer as they waited for red tape and finishing touches on their building. But sometime in April, Wolfepack will open its own space. Although the obvious parallels to the Pack are next-wave spots like Harp and Chef J, which make a similar style of modern barbecue, Wolfepack’s restaurant will be more like a small-scale version of Q39 and Jack Stack.
Even from the cart, Wolfepack is serving smoked duck breast with apricot glaze, truffle celery soup and blackened shrimp with grits. “We’re playing around with all kinds of stuff now,” Wolfe says. “We’re going to do barbecue, and we’re going to do the best damned barbecue we can. But it’s about listening to your people and then saying, ‘Can we do this, this or this?’ and ‘Let’s try not to do this.’”
But at the full restaurant, expect a grilled flank steak with chimichurri and serious cocktails.
“The cool thing about this spot is we have control over liquor, beer and such,” Wolfe says. “We’re still going to be known as a barbecue joint, but secondary is as a bar. We’ll have seasonal cocktails that rotate.”
To the extent possible, though, those cocktails will use local products. Wolfe’s philosophy is to “support Kansas City while remaining profitable,” and you can see that in the brisket wagyu hot dogs that come from a ranch in Weston to the buns from Roma bakery topped with fermented hot sauces from a small-batch local producer.
“I’m a small business guy,” Wolfe says. “The only way we survive is to help each other. We’re going to try and focus on keeping things local as much as possible around here.”
Also new at the standalone restaurant: french fries. Wolfe will be offering fries, which are an essential part of the experience at classic local pits like Gates, Bryant’s and Joe’s but which have thus far been avoided by the new class of pitmasters with a strong Texas influence.
“Kansas City is always pretty big about having fries with their barbecue, and we can have fries now,” Wolfe says. “Having fryers available opens a whole new menu of things we can do. I’m excited to do fries and to do things like brisket rangoon.”