In October, Plowboys Barbeque opened in Overland Park, making it the first Kansas City barbecue restaurant to run pits in three states.
Yes, three states — in addition to its new Kansas spot and Missouri locations in Blue Springs, at Arrowhead Stadium and downtown, Plowboys has a franchisee in Lincoln, Nebraska. The owners of Barry’s, a massive sports bar that’s an institution among Cornhusker fans, were looking to overhaul their “bad food and slow service.” They had been to Plowboys and thought its ’cue would be a good fit.
Earlier this year, Plowboys owner Todd Johns — a decorated veteran of the BBQ competition circuit who opened his Blue Springs shop six years ago — dispatched his employees to train the Barry’s staff.
“About two months after it opened, I finally got a chance to go up there,” Johns says. “I sat down at the bar, and I didn’t tell anyone who I was. I’m talking to the bartender, and she’s telling me about the food and what she likes. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, you have to try this. It’s so good.’ I went up to the bar and and grabbed a beer and started eating my burnt end nachos, and it was just like sitting in Blue Springs. For a little company like ours, this was the ultimate. I was taking pictures and texting my team and I’m like, ‘This feels like we just put barbecue on the moon.’”
By that standard, the new Overland Park location is a layup. But expanding in barbecue-dense KC is never easy, Johns says. “We’ve probably looked at one hundred and twenty different locations over the last five years, all over the city,” he says.
But finding an “underserved” corner of a metropolitan area that’s thick with smoke is only half the battle. Barbecue requires a building that can accommodate big, smoke-
“The unique thing about barbecue when you’re picking a location is you have these large pieces of equipment called smokers, and you can’t just drop them everywhere,” Johns says. “As we’ve looked at different locations around the city, ‘Where are we going to put the smokers?’ is always the first question, and if you can’t answer that, it doesn’t matter how great the location is.”
The new Overland Park location is on a dead-end alley, which means plenty of space to make brisket, ribs and Plowboys’ signature platter of pulled pork nachos, which are made with corn chips fried fresh daily and a housemade bechamel with six cheeses.
“I always say we’re the BBQ joint that nachos built,” Johns says. “We probably do more nachos than any Mexican joint in town.”
GO: 6737 W. 75th St., Overland Park. 913-914-7569, plowboysbbq.com.