BBQ is often considered the life blood of Kansas City. With over 30 plus barbecue sauces calling KC home, and in a city that houses enough BBQ joints that you could visit about 2 per week for a year and never feed from the same smoker twice. But the heart of KC BBQ is the people who consume it, the thousands of everyday locals, and those who travel far and wide to see if the legend rings true. Our true to stereotype Midwestern hospitality helps make anyone feel at home when their dining on a cheap table cloth and a plate of burnt ends in front of them.
This month we’d like to tip our spatulas at our next BBQ All Star, Mary Fiorella McPharn, a key member of the family that brought us Jack Stack restaurants under several teams of ownership with their own unique style. Parents Russell and Flora Fiorella opened the original Smokestack in 1957. They had such a positive impact on their kids that all 6 Fiorella children grew up to work in the BBQ business. During the late 80’s, 6 different BBQ establishments were operated by 5 different Fiorellas’, within 4 separate business enterprises. Maybe that’s what living above their original busy restaurant in south Kansas City will do for a family. The smoke just seeps into you and you can never sweat it out. The whole family pitched in to make Smokestack a KC favorite, and they continued a unified effort in its success until Mary opened her own Smokestack at 8920 Wornall Road. That was the location I remember visiting when I was a kid. Every once in a while on Sundays, my dad would take our whole family to that location. As a kid, not knowing the geography, it seemed like a strange place in the middle of nowhere.
Mary became known for her personal commitment to customer service along with fantastic BBQ at a fair price, which went a long way with her mostly blue collar and faithful customers. Her legend stretches beyond ribs or root beer floats, legend has it that Mary would help untold numbers of families and people with a meal or more. Mary Fiorella McPharn, learned more than about how to make and serve BBQ , from her parents and from growing growing up in a ” Smokestack”.
The smoke went out in Mary’s original location in 2011. But under new ownership and a brand re-fresh, The Stack BBQ, continues Mary’s tradition in the old location. On a recent visit, we had the ribs and burnt ends – and ate them too quickly we didn’t
even get pics, and they were great. As a BBQ sauce company you would think we only stick to our products. It’s impossible not to appreciate the people who inspired us. They are the masters, and gave us so many personal memories growing up that we’ll never forget. We might
not even be here doing this if it weren’t for people like her.
As a new face of BBQ in Kansas City, we are trying to find ways to ingrain ourselves in the community and help however we can. That’s why every month we donate a case of sauce to Food Equality Initiative, which is a food pantry for families with celiac disease here in town. As former skaters, we loved helping grill food and give away sauce to help raise money for a new skate park in a run-down area of town.
If you have a personal story about someone who should be included in our BBQ All-Stars blog series, contact us and tell us about it. And if you have an idea for a way we can help the Kansas City area community we wanna know about that too!
PS – We’d love it if you share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or just emailed it to a friend. Cheers!
Photo from: http://www.thestackbarbq.com