Barkley became a mentor to many local restaurateurs who started their careers at Gilbert/Robinson, including Forbes Cross, owner of the Michael Forbes Grille in Brookside.
"He was one of my bosses at G/R and a great friend. We stayed close long after we had both left the company. He was a very positive individual," Cross says. "He was always an innvovator, very interested in new ideas."
Barkley's career started in the late 1950s when he was hired by Stephenson's Old Apple Farm Restaurant. He joined the Gilbert/Robinson organization in 1971. After leaving that company, Barkley worked for the PB&J restaurant groups and the Anderson Restaurant Group. He was named to the Missouri Restaurant Association Hall of Fame in 2002.
Waiter, Web designer and blogger David Hayden worked with Barkley - then working as an interim general manager for the PB&J restaurants - at the former Paradise Grill restaurant in the Northland.
"One night at the restaurant, I was waiting on a table of businessmen, and Ron took me aside and stressed to me that these were important businessmen," Hayden says. "So I went out of my way to give them excellent service. The following day, Ron sat me down and explained that they had been Sysco executives and had been very pleased with my service. But Ron had not been pleased at all. He looked at me and said, 'I saw empty creamers and used sugar packets on that table.' He was that meticulous."
Ron Barkley's services will be held at the Porter Funeral Home, 8535 Monrovia, in Lenexa; the visitation will be Friday, September 20, from 4 to 7 p.m., and funeral services will be on Saturday, September 21 at 1 p.m. The Barkely family has requested that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association Scholarship Fund.