KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It is only fitting that Hayward Spears Sr.’s family and friends said their goodbyes to the BBQ baron over none other than BBQ.

Spears, originally from Arkansas, started his restaurant in 1972 and was known for his hospitality.

“There are lots of great memories with Hayward just coming up to your table while you were at his restaurant. One of the great stories about Hayward was that he always knew your name, you know,” manager of Hayward’s BBQ, Reilly Sweeney said.

“Before I worked at Hayward’s, that was the place to go,” Brenda Conrad said, who was an employee at Hayward’s.

Conrad has many fond memories from her time working at the restaurant. She loved her job and boss so much, that she worked for Spears for 30 years.

“I loved it from day one. Couldn’t have been happier, loved him. He was kind and nice. Can’t say enough wonderful things about him.”

Spears isn’t just a BBQ legend in Kansas City.

In addition to serving up some mean burnt ends, he was also known for his civic leadership in Overland Park and Johnson County Community College.

“He’s left more than a legacy behind, which is barbecue, you know, he was a big part of his community. And he always had a lot of services there. And he’s just an overall great man,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney, who is the son of the business’s current owner, says he wants to keep the memory of Hayward and his BBQ alive to anyone who comes through their doors.

“You know, being 50 years in the business in barbecue is a long time, especially in Kansas City. And so I just want Hayward and his name to go down as one of the barbecue greats in Kansas City.”