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Famous barbecue eatery dropping Oklahoma name

Published August 28, 2014 5:24 pm

Restaurants • Oklahoma Joe's sheds its Okies roots since it's only in the Kansas City area.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Kansas City, Kan. • The nationally recognized Oklahoma Joe's Bar-B-Que restaurant in Kansas City plans to change its name by the end of the year to reflect that it hasn't had any connection to Oklahoma for 17 years, the co-owner of the business said.

The restaurant, which has three locations in the Kansas City area, will be known as Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que, co-owner Jeff Stehney said.

Oklahoma Joe's has made several national lists of top barbeque restaurants and has drawn some famous diners. During President Barack Obama's July visit to Kansas City, about $1,400 worth of ribs, pork, sausage and side dishes was shipped to Air Force One. And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback chose the restaurant for a campaign stop earlier this month, The Kansas City Star reported.

Stehney said the name change is no disrespect to Oklahoma but simply acknowledges the company made its reputation after opening a restaurant in a gas station in Kansas City, Kan. in 1996. That eatery is still operating, along with later expansions in the Kansas communities of Leawood and Olathe.

"We are super proud of our Oklahoma beginnings," Stehney said. "But it has been 17 years that it has been 100 percent Kansas City-owned. This will better represent the city as one of the top — I think it's the best — barbecue destinations."

The company began slowly phasing in the new name three years ago, introducing Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que Sauce and later adding a seasoning with the new name. It's adding two new T-shirts with the name change. Menus and business cards with the Kansas City name will appear Nov. 17.

Outdoor signs are scheduled to change to the Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que name by early December.

Stehney and his wife, Joy, along with another partner, Joe Don Davidson, founded the Oklahoma Joe's Smoker Co. in January 1996 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Davidson sold the smoker company in 1997 and moved to Texas, while the Oklahoma restaurant closed and the Stehneys moved to Kansas.




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