How This Couple Turned A Gas Station Kitchen Into A Legendary Barbecue Destination

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Joe’s KC Bar-B-Que became famous for serving “que” at a neighborhood gas station.

But it was their dedication to the craft that made them a legend.

Joy Stehney, co-founder of Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, embodies the true spirit of entrepreneurship and passion. Alongside her Barbecue Hall of Famer husband Jeff, they transformed a humble gas station kitchen into a legendary barbecue destination that now stands as a beacon of excellence in Kansas City’s legendary culinary landscape .

The Stehneys embarked on their barbecue journey as competitors in Kansas City’s famous barbecue scene.

Their success in barbecue competitions built a fan base that encouraged them to start a catering business. This led them to rent kitchen space at a local gas station and partner with Joe Don Davidson (Oklahoma Joe’s Smoker Company).

Their business began with a restaurant in Stillwater, Oklahoma, followed by their iconic Kansas City location in 1996. Despite early challenges and a later name change from Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Que to Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B -That, they have managed to establish themselves in the barbecue community.

“My husband had this crazy idea to quit his job and we’re going to go into the restaurant business,” Joy Stehney shared with host Shawn Walchef of Cali BBQ Media. “We opened our second restaurant in Kansas City in the gas station in 1996. And we’ve been there ever since.”

Maintaining high food quality has been essential for the brand, particularly in its catering business.

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Despite his personal aversion to takeout, Stehney and his team have perfected the art of providing exceptional food and service to their customers. Through rigorous testing and experienced staff, they ensure their barbecue reaches customers in perfect condition, maintaining the high standards that keep people coming back for more.

“Good food and good service. It’s very important when the food is going to leave the building,” she explained. “We have excellent quality control in our restaurants and food quality is the most important thing.”

Joe’s KC Barbecue has become a staple in Kansas City, attracting fans from all walks of life, including Kansas City Chiefs superstar and Super Bowl champion Travis Kelce. Stehney is ready to offer hospitality to Kelce and his superstar girlfriend Taylor Swift, if they decide to get married.

Related: How to Start a Successful Restaurant? Obsess over the smallest details, says this enterprising chef.

“I mean this. Travis and Taylor, I’ll take care of the wedding. I’ll take care of the rehearsal dinner. Anything you want. Okay? Call me,” Joy offered enthusiastically.

From humble beginnings at a gas station to becoming barbecue icons, Joy Stehney’s dedication to quality and hospitality has solidified Joe’s KC Bar-B-Que as an exemplary family business and has grown stood out in the industry.

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