For a small-town barbecue pit, there are three possible paths. First, you can aim to become a destination, drawing comers from all over. Second, you can convince loyal customers to eat brisket or pulled pork on a semi-weekly basis. Or third, you can be more than a barbecue pit—you can be the local restaurant that happens to serve barbecue, along with some specials that broaden the restaurant’s appeal enough to serve the smoke-free.
Out in Eudora (pop. 6,551), Barbwire BBQ has opted for door number three. Jason Musick, who runs the restaurant with his fraternal twin brother Jay, has extensive restaurant experience. He worked for J. Alexanders when he was fresh out of school at K-State and then spent a decade with the Bravo!/Brio restaurant group, living in Dallas, Houston and Memphis along the way. A job with Bread & Butter Concepts had him return home, and that’s when he started talking to Jay, who worked in the printing industry in Olathe, about opening their own place.
“I thought, ‘I’m tired of making all this money for someone else. I want to make this money for myself,’” Jason says. “We’re making some changes in our dining room, and I don’t need to call corporate, I don’t need to go through all that BS.”
Of course, there are downsides—stress and sleepless nights from owning a restaurant in a time of staffing shortages and soaring food costs, to name two. But hard work doesn’t scare the Musick twins.
“We grew up in a family where we had to know how to cook,” Jason says. “That was very important to our mom and dad. You worked hard in the garden, you knew how to cook, you knew how to wash your clothes.”
Barbwire started as a food trailer back in 2016. Just before Covid, they started looking for a permanent physical location. They ended up finding a fixer-upper at 601 E. 10th Street, just east of downtown Eudora. They opened in September 2020 with a menu that was heavier on traditional ’cue than the current one, which includes everything from burgers to a ham and egg croissant.
“We want that slow, methodical growth,” Jason says. “We didn’t want to have a bunch of stuff and then do it badly.”
You’ll also find nachos and quesadillas on the menu.
“I love Mexican food,” Jason says. “It’s my favorite in the whole world. You kind of get barbecued out. You can only eat so many pulled pork sandwiches and pulled turkey sandwiches and brisket before you want something else.”
On a recent visit, I asked the woman working the counter the same thing I do at every pit: “What’s your best meat?” True to form, she told me she always gets the burger—she’d gotten burned out on BBQ.
Of course, if you’re driving from KC, you’ll probably want the barbecue. The ribs were flavorful and tender without being floppy while the cubed and sauced brisket was roasted and spoon tender. Whenever you visit, expect to find a unique special.
“For lent, we did fried shrimp baskets and fried fish baskets, and now people ask, ‘When are you going to have the fish back?’” Jason says. “I would like to sell shrimp po’ boys all day long—the markup is much better than on ribs and brisket.”