News & Blog

20 Years of Smoking the City’s Best Barbeque

Once upon a time (20 years ago), a farm kid from Kansas named Rick teamed up with competition barbeque team, quit his day job with John Deere, bought an old doughnut shop in Ohio, and opened a barbeque joint. After perfecting their already award-winning recipes, the team catered tailgates out of Rick’s garage during construction delays on their new restaurant and used the time to decide what sort of place they wanted to be: one that took care of everyone, from guests to employees to the community at large.

 It is mind-blowing to us that it’s been 20 years, and that we’ve grown to 42 (soon to be 46!) locations across seven states. But with everything that’s changed in those two decades, some things are exactly the same: our award-winning meats are all  still smoked on-site over local hickory wood. Our scratch-made sides and desserts are still made fresh, by hand, every day. We’re still catering tailgates—plus everything from fancy formal weddings and massive company picnics to buttoned-up board meetings and good ol’ backyard BBQs.

And we’re still living by those company values we established in 1999: serving competition-quality barbeque with genuine backyard hospitality; improving ourselves and our processes a little every day; and staying true to our purpose of serving and creating happiness.

We serve and create happiness for our guests however we can, taking that extra step to help them out, cheer them up, make their day. More than a million guests have come through our doors since 1999, and we want each and every one to feel like they’re just hanging out in our backyard for some barbeque (that’s why we call it “backyard hospitality!”).

Our team may have grown from five folks to more than 1,600, but we know creating happiness for them still means supporting them all with industry-leading pay, continuously improving benefits, scholarship opportunities (with $145,000 in financial aid for our teammates and their dependents), and more.

And service to our community has grown exponentially in 20 years: we are honored to have been able to give millions of dollars to thousands of local nonprofits and community organizations in the 41 individual neighborhoods we serve. That 10% of pretax profits each joint donates to local groups every year adds up, and that doesn’t even include donated food. Nothing makes us happier than feeding our friends and neighbors, whether it’s donating ‘que to an event around town, or working with Food Rescue to put our BBQ on the plates of food-insecure folks in our community.

From all of us at City Barbeque, from the bottom of our BBQ-loving hearts: thank you. You’ve helped us bring the city’s best barbeque to so many folks, and we appreciate your support more than we can say. We can’t wait to see what the next 20 years have in store!