Plowboys Barbeque closed both of its locations in mid-August as co-owners Todd Johns and Audrey Johns pivoted to a booming business in rubs and sauces. “We made the decision, the decision wasn’t made for us, and that felt good to us,” Todd says. “We’re finishing in a way that feels good. It feels good to end on our own terms.”
Plowboys opened its first location in Blue Springs in 2013 and followed up with a downtown location in 2015 and a franchise in Nebraska. They also opened and closed a location in Overland Park, which is now Buck Tui.
Plowboys was doing record business going into the pandemic, Todd says, with sales at the downtown location up almost thirty percent. Plowboys did “dip a little bit” and “had some ground to recover,” he says, but the plan had been to continue.
Negotiations on renewing their lease for another five years sparked a deeper conversation about the future of the business, fueled in part by Todd’s reading Finish Big.
“We’re all ten years older—that was a big factor,” Todd Johns says. “I was recommended a book earlier this year called Finish Big. It talks about how we, as entrepreneurs, put a lot of energy into our concept, launch and vision, and then we either hand those things off or we operate them. But we don’t put the same amount of energy into what the end looks like.”
The decision was made easier by the runaway success of Plowboys’ sauces and rubs, which are available in thirty countries. Their top product, Yardbird Rub, moves a hundred thousand pounds a year.
Speaking of departures, Sarah’s on the Hill, one of our favorite spots in Strawberry Hill, has been sold to a new owner and is now Chentes on the Hill (612 N. Fifth St., KCK). The restaurant was opened by Sarah Breitenstein in 2019 and then was taken over by her brother John. Vincent Galicia of Chentes Pizza took over and plans to keep the pizza recipes the same while adding asada and chorizo Mexican pizzas.
The first chef has been announced for a new downtown food hall . The Strang Chef Collective at lightwell comes from the people behind the popular food hall in downtown Overland Park.
Nicole Shute is being tapped to fill one of the spaces with a concept called Verde which “will feature bold flavors, vibrant colors, fresh ingredients, and mindfully made food interpreted in an approachable way.”
“The roots of Verde stem from my love of Latin American cuisine and other island flavors,” she said in a press release.
Shute is a KC native who was previously chef de cuisine for the Marriot Downtown.
One of our favorite brunch spots is adding a general store. Housewife in Grandview (801 Main Street, Suite 104, Grandview) has become a destination for its scratch-made pastries, sandwiches and soups. Now it’s taking over the “cute blue house next door” to open a Truman General in October. The store’s offerings are headlined by homemade ice cream, charcuterie, new and used books, records and housewares.
Be Kind, Rewind
If you’re one of those people who deeply misses the vibes of Blockbuster Video, there is a place. The basement of the Screenland Armor Theatre in North KC has been turned into a bar called Rewind Video and Retro Dive (410 Armour Road, North Kansas City)—and the bar even plans to do video rentals. The space is decorated with old tube TVs, classic game consoles and posters for movies like Pulp Fiction and Clerks. The drink menus are in DVD cases and list the period-appropriate “Adult Capri Suns” along with hazy IPAs and kombucha (no Josta or Zima). There will soon be a rental library of VHS tapes, DVDs and Blu-rays for rent, pulled from the personal collection of co-owner Adam Roberts, who is “wrapping up cataloging the couple thousand movies into our system.” The rental system will be a flat membership fee per month, and they hope to have it active in September.
Pull of Gravity
The former Blue Moose in Prairie Village is now home to Gravity (4160 W. 71st St., Prairie Village), a new spot by the same owner which has a “Mediterranean-inspired” menu with an “American sensibility” (think: fried calamari, lamb chops). KC Hopps owned Blue Moose and also owns Gravity, but the inside of the Moose has been brightened and accented with abstract art by local painter Kelley Neill Carman. In a news release, KC Hopps mentions that the menu is “almost entirely gluten-free” and that almost any dish with gluten can be modified “at one’s request.”
A new piano bar in Midtown aims to bring both jazz standards and impromptu jams to the corner of 34th and Main streets. Uptown Lounge (3400 Main St., KCMO) hosts regular performances by standout locals like Eboni Fondren and co-owner Alan Stribling. The bar was “built for musicians, by musicians” and claims “unparalleled” acoustics from careful speaker placement and room design. The drink menu includes a handful of house cocktails as well as a nice selection of high-end spirits.
Is it Bettah?
The long-awaited competitor to homegrown chain Hawaiian Bros has arrived. Mo’ Bettahs Hawaiian Style Restaurant is now open on both 75th Street in north Overland Park and on South Strang Line Road in Olathe. The Utah-based plate lunch spot has a similar menu to the Bros and is eyeing four locations around KC.
Speaking of expanding chains: Rise Southern Biscuits and Righteous Chicken will arrive in south Overland Park this fall with a new spot at 7060 W. 135th Street. Rise is a North Carolina-based biscuit chain and opened a spot on Tomahawk Road in Prarie Village back in 2019. Rise’s menu is mainly buttery biscuits and buttermilk-brined chicken.