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Jack Stack Barbecue: Sharing Burnt Ends and Secrets to Great Barbecue for More Than 60 Years

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Those of us who grew up in Kansas City and have had the pleasure of eating quality barbecue all of our lives have our own way of categorizing barbecue restaurants. I definitely do. I know when I walk into Jack Stack Barbecue that I’m going to get a delicious barbecue meal, and it falls into my “awesome ambiance experience” category.

I loved how Jon Browning, a Jack Stack kitchen manager, described the experience. “Barbecue is messy and fun to eat. At Jack Stack, we never stray from traditional. You’ll get delicious, classic items, and we take special care with our flavor to ensure that it’s served in a way that is remarkable,” said Browning.

If you haven’t dined at any of the five Kansas City locations (soon to be six), the Jack Stack Barbecue restaurant’s ambiance is distinctive. There are no paper napkins, no rolls of paper towels on the table and no wooden benches. It’s barbecue served to create remarkable experiences for its guests, and Kansas Citians are crazy for it! The sixth location is set to open in September at 8721 Ryckert Street in Lenexa City Center. This location, like many of them, will have an expanded patio and covered carryout area.

As a fourth-generation family-owned business, Jack Stack has a lot of time-honored traditions relating to their processes, and that’s what makes their flavor and food stand out. When you can’t say which is your favorite because you truly love all of the barbecue, that’s when you know it’s good. 

Jack Stack’s Burnt Ends are large, crispy on the outside and juicy and tender throughout. They’re known for burnt ends and after I talked with Jon Browning, I understand why. “Our burnt ends are unique because of the time and energy we put into them,” he said.

The process is arduous. The meat is cooked at a low temperature to lock in the juices, and it’s labor-intensive as well. There’s an entire production team that works almost around the clock and every single day, with the exception of Christmas and Thanksgiving, to make sure that the Jack Stack Barbecue restaurants never run out of burnt ends. From the pit master to the people on the line cutting each individual burnt end into cubes, Jack Stack specializes in the process of getting the meat to the guest and ensuring it’s a delicious, fresh product every single time.

The Ribs at Jack Stack start with a quality product and meaty ribs; it’s what Jon called “good meat-to-bone ratio.” You’ll always have your appetite satisfied with these ribs. And just as he said, they’re messy and fun to eat; you’ll always get that extra plate to pile your bones on. With that first bite through to your last, you’ll chomp into a nice bark on the outside where the pork spare ribs have been smoked and seared just right over the hickory.

The Brisket, thinly sliced and cooked to perfection, is the longest process at Jack Stack. The crews are loading the meat in the evenings and then the pit master arrives at about 3:00 a.m. after the meat has cooked cook overnight for 10 to 12 hours. I learned that there are very few hours in a day, if any, that there’s no one in the restaurant; with all of this meat to cook every day and night, I can see why!

“As the process has evolved over the years, we’ve developed a well-crafted system. We never compromise our standards, and that’s how we ensure our quality. We’re cooking 70 briskets a day at one location using our process, and we’ve been doing this 63 years strong,” Browning said.

Just like I got a behind-the-scenes glimpse, Jon and the rest of the team love when customers ask about the process. So many of us in KC are backyard barbecuers, but that’s never going to stop us from enjoying a meal at Jack Stack. “We’re more than open to sharing with our guests about how our process works. There’s not a curtain that we don’t let guests see behind. Before COVID halted everything, we loved taking our guests back for pit tours and offering tips on barbecuing at home,” he said.

You can’t beat the two top selling sides at Jack Stack: the Cheesy Corn Bake and the Hickory Pit Beans. I learned that the beans are cooked for hours in the pit just below the briskets, capturing all the drippings. Whoa, this makes so much more sense!

I learned something else very important. If you love the Jack Stack Mom’s Carrot Cake, and who doesn’t, you can order it to go if you’re dining in, as a carryout or from DoorDash, and it comes as a cupcake! I tried this version for the first time, and I loved it even more.

With five locations in Kansas City–Martin City, Overland Park, Freight House, Plaza, Lee’s Summit–Jack Stack is a great place to take your dad for Father’s Day. It doesn’t even have to be a special occasion; barbecue is ideal any day of the week.

Learn more at

Fiorella’s houses the catering side of Jack Stack Barbecue. It’s the largest restaurant-based catering company in the Midwest, with 19 catering vehicles, a dedicated catering staff and large, tailor-made catering kitchen at their new upscale off-site catering and event facility near 135th Street and Antioch. The company specializes in customizing events for catering clients. Events may feature Jack Stack Barbecue, breakfast, five-course gourmet dinners, boxed lunches, ethnic foods, appetizer buffets and so much more. Visit for details.

Written by: Megan Neher