LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — News Friday that Summit Hickory Pit would be closing its doors after 30 years that same night came as a surprise to many long time customers of the Lee’s Summit, Missouri BBQ restaurant.

“I heard about it about an hour ago now and I don’t live too far away and I’m like I’ve got to go up there,” Bob Rowden said.

They gobbled up shirts and sauce from the restaurant’s gift shop, most people unaware of the real story behind their closing.

Mindy Methner worked at Summit Hickory Pit BBQ in college. Now her two sons are also servers at the restaurant.

“It’s good to anticipate the needs of others. It’s just a good life skill so when they said that they would wait tables we said why don’t you go to Hickory Pit,” Methner said.

After getting through the pandemic, the restaurant found the biggest challenge is hiring and has been operating at 2/3 of normal staff.

“We’ve done the food cost increases like we need and we have not been slow. Our business has been outstanding, more than you could ask for. But it doesn’t matter even if you pay the employees more money they aren’t coming into work,” Genia Birchfield said.

The family business is choosing to focus on 30 years of memories with their customers.

“We’re a part of graduation parties, birthday parties events and celebrations and we’re so blessed today is a substantial feeling when you see the line out the door of people that want to give their love right back and have one last meal with us,” Birchfield said.

The remaining employees at the restaurant posed for a photo at 9 p.m. Friday before officially locking the doors and turning out the lights.

Owners haven’t announced future plans for the building but say they are speaking with interested parties.

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