KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mention Kansas City to people in other parts of the country, and they probably think of the city’s famous barbecue.
Mention barbecue in Kansas City, and many will say Gates Bar-B-Q is among the best.
The restaurant had humble beginnings, starting in the late 1940s when George Gates traded in job a on the railroads to prepare quality barbecue, leading to the grand opening of Gates Old Kentucky or “Gates Ol’ Kentuck” at 19th and Vine.
After several name changes, moves and shakeups, the company blossomed into what Kansas Citians know today as Gates Bar-B-Q. The company now owns half a dozen restaurants in the metro.
George Gates II, his grandfather’s namesake, said barbecue is a family tradition, and they don’t plan to stop any time soon.
“Seventy-five years is a long time to be in business,” he said. “But the restaurant business, that’s something special.”
Gates said the experience starts as soon as customers walk through the door when they’re met with the signature greeting, “Hi, how may I help you?” that the company said makes them unique.
Then, it’s time for the food.
“The flames come up, and the juices go down, and it hits the flame,” Gates said. “All we do is cook with feeling.”
The eatery has flavors famous to Kansas Citians, including the pork ribs, beef brisket and chicken wings.
For those who can’t make it into the restaurant, Gates Bar-B-Q seasonings and sauces are available at many local grocery stores. Gates said these extra items have been delivered all across the world, like Dubai.
“You can go to any supermarket, buy a bottle of sauce, read the instructions, and there you got it,” he said. “It might not be exactly right, but you got it.”
But the food isn’t the only thing that makes Gates unique. As a Black-owned business, family and community are two of the main values, and some of the many things that keep customers coming back.
“This community has embraced us, the Black community and the white and all the colors in between,” Gates said. “We are just happy to represent the community with pride and excellence.”
Those values, plus the good food, will make their legacy stronger for generations to come.
“It’s a whole experience, with the end being a flavor that stays in your mouth after you leave,” Gates said. “When you say Gates, you mean barbecue.”